Step back in time for a peaceful country getaway…
Perfect for a romantic weekend away, Middlethorpe Hall is a country hotel that manages to be both in the middle of nowhere and a short riverside stroll from York city centre.
An 18th Century stately home, Middlethorpe Hall was once owned by the High Sheriff of Yorkshire, spent some time as a nightclub, and is now run by the National Trust as a dangerously relaxing hotel and spa. Fires roar in the grates, and the staff are friendly and not intimidating, which is the important bit (let’s face it, we all dread tiptoeing through a weekend in a hotel where omnipresent Jeeveses whisk away every breadcrumb as it lands on the tablecloth).
Middlethorpe Hall has a dream-like quality to it. You can wander among the deer in the park, explore the walled gardens, or relax in one of the many sitting rooms. We marvelled as the world’s quietest bride drifted gently down the grand staircase and wafted through the library, barely disturbing a little old lady who had clearly come in case there was a murder that needed solving.
The bedrooms are the size of a London flat, handsomely decorated with paintings and there’s a wealth of antique furniture to sprawl on. Some rooms even have a four-poster bed. Huge sash windows give you a handsome view of the grounds. The bookshelves even have books you’d want to read on them – I sat up reading Father Brown as the gales did their worst.
The spa offers facials that declare war on spots, massages that make you even more relaxed, and can even provide you with a professional tan on the off-chance that York’s wintry weather doesn’t provide one.
Food and drink are a similar delight. Staff will happily serve you with afternoon tea in your room, but the real joy is in the restaurant, where there’s an emphasis on creative combinations (scallop with pork, and butternut squash wellington). The other joy of the restaurant is the chance to eavesdrop on other peoples’ conversations. One table viewed it as a second home, and another couple had dreamed of staying there for 20 years.
If you fancy a break from being pampered, or just want a break from each other, York itself offers a huge array of entertainments. There’s a band on every street corner, quaint shops to explore in The Shambles, the childhood delight of the National Railway Museum, the Jorvik Centre, a sunset stroll along the medieval city walls, and a variety of ghost walks to choose from every evening, before heading back to the hotel to wonder if the tapping noise at your window really is just a tree stirred by the wind….
Middlethorpe Hall is at Bishopthopre Road, York. Details and bookings at middlethorpe.com
Words James Goss