Most of us are glued to the latest ITV period drama ‘Vanity Fair’ and who isn’t excited about the upcoming Downton Abbey movie, for some reason we all love a period drama, whether it’s the romance of it all, the amazing period houses or just a way for us to see how life was in bygone years, whatever the fascination there’s no denying we’re hooked.
Which is why whenever we get invited to visit a country house hotel we can’t wait to see what delights hide behind its doors.
This time we were heading off to York to spend a couple of days at Middlethorpe Hall, a William III country house built in 1699 and set in 20 acres of its own beautiful gardens and parklands and just two miles from York’s city centre.
Entering the house, through iron railings we are carefully watched by the stone eagle positioned on the top of the house (the Barlow family crest). Walking through the doors into the slate floored entrance hall, we effortlessly check in and are whisked up the large oak staircase to our room.
Middlethorpe Hall, has 29 bedrooms which are spread out across the main house, with the exception of 4 Courtyard suites.
Our room was on the first floor, a large space overlooking the impressive gardens, with large windows that allowed light into the room and gave us spectacular views as far as the eye could see. Traditionally decorated and full of character, with a large four poster bed taking pride of place in the middle of the room. Floral and chintz fabrics dressed the windows and the bed, and the feature fireplace was complimented with elegant antique furniture including a writing desk, large wooden wardrobe and dressing table all creating a traditional period style room, without being old fashioned. The perfect retreat to sit back, relax and enjoy the feeling of being Lord and Lady of the Manor.
The bathroom was stylish and spacious, with the added bonus of white fluffy gowns, slippers and Floris toiletries to pamper yourself with. The temptation to slip on a gown and snuggle up on one of the window seats looking out over the magical gardens nearly won me over, but then hubbie mentioned a glass of bubbles on the lawn and the pull was just too great.
After a ramble around the gardens, a soak in the bath and a glass of wine in the drawing room that was adorned with paintings, beautiful antiques and a twinkling ornate chandelier, we made our way into the wood panelled dining room. Offering tranquil vistas over the lawns, and an ambience that has you waiting in anticipation of the delights to follow.
The restaurant has twice been awarded ‘Restaurant of the Year’ in the Visit York awards and still retains 2AA Rosettes, so you can see why we were slightly excited to be experiencing this culinary journey. Pursuing the menu over a glass of wine and canapes it is evident from the dishes that a lot of thought has gone into the ingredients used, which only made it harder for us to decide.
Finally, starters were chosen, crab ravioli with coconut, lemongrass and lime, the ravioli was delicious and cooked perfectly, the crab was plentiful and full of flavour a real hit. For me though, the stand out dish from the whole menu was my starter of beetroot risotto with whipped goats cheese and horseradish, this was absolutely divine, not only did it look exquisite it filled my palette with flavours of beetroot mixed with creamy goats cheese and textures that merged together effortlessly.
After the risotto the mains had a hard act to follow. We both chose the salt aged spring lamb with asparagus, goats curd, baby turnip and lambs fat potatoes, the lamb was tender and literally melted in the mouth, the combination of flavours were executed to perfection.
Dessert was just as appetising gariguette strawberry clotted cream served with shortbread and basil and Yorkshire rhubarb with white chocolate and gingerbread, exquisite and flavoursome, the perfect end to a culinary delight.
Breakfast the next morning was served in the restaurant, and it seemed only right that as we were in Yorkshire it was only right to have the Yorkshire breakfast, with produce sourced locally, this was definitely the right choice.
The pull of a walk round the gardens after breakfast was a must, beautifully maintained with their own secret garden which has an almost magical enchantment about it that had us glad we’d decided to explore. All too soon though, it was time to make our way to the spa for a pampering facial.
The spa is housed across the road, built behind the facade of two listed Edwardian cottages, in its own secluded garden. There’s an indoor swimming pool, steam room and sauna, so I left hubbie to enjoy all the facilities whilst I went and experienced the ultimate Aromatherapy Associates Facial that had me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to explore York.
Everywhere we turned the narrow-cobbled streets lead us to hidden delights such as The Nutcracker Christmas Shop (open all year round), Pivni Real Ale House (be sure to try their cheese and pickle pie) the traditional fudge shop (you can watch how they make the fudge and taste it before you buy). Don’t forget a visit to York Minster to explore 2,000 years of history – there’s just so much to see and do, the list is endless, which means you’ll just have to come back for another visit, which will of course mean you’ll have to have another stay at Middlethorpe Hall and play at being Lord and Lady once again.
Prices start from £153 per night for two people including breakfast in October, and from £239 per night for two people including breakfast and dinner in October.
*Please note prices may vary from those quoted.