The Feversham Arms, Helmsley, North Yorkshire
The Feversham Arms Hotel is one of the north of England’s most luxurious country house hotels and is a perfect place to come and unwind. The hotel is located on the edge of the attractive town of Helmsley within the North York Moors National Park and being just off the A170, it is a short 40 minute drive from York.
The charming small town boasts an array of high quality independent shops and is the starting point for the Cleveland Way, a national trail that runs 110 miles (175km) between Helmsley and Filey taking in some dramatic moorland and coastal scenery.
Arrival and check-in:
Check-in is from 3.00 p.m. and it was close to that time when we arrived at the hotel. Instructions were to drive to the rear of the property where there is a small car park for guests arriving and dropping off luggage. The reception lobby is large and welcoming, modern in style and with a galleried landing adorned with local paintings.
On duty at the reception desk was Ian who warmly welcomed us. He had us checked-in very quickly enquiring if we would like a morning newspaper and then assisting us with our luggage to our room.
On the way there he pointed out the spa facilities, restaurant and bar lounge before opening the doors out to the swimming pool to take us across to our room.
We had been booked into one of the hotel’s newly refurbished poolside suites which face the main hotel building with just the pool in between. Our suite was gorgeous and more like a cosy cottage with its own furnished patio which would be a lovely spot to relax on warmer days.
Our entrance porch contained useful coat hooks and a large umbrella to keep us dry going across to the main building in case it rained. Moving into the lounge, we discovered a comfortable sofa, coffee table and dining table which was also useful as a work area as it had numerous sockets close by.
On the table was a welcome card from all the staff featuring a beautiful view of the hotel and alongside it a small box of the most divine handmade chocolate truffles specially made for the hotel by local chocolatiers Park House Barns.
The room also came equipped with a television, well stocked hospitality tray containing both a kettle and Nespresso maker, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and packets of melt in the mouth Wild’s luxury biscuits. Fresh milk was brought round from the hotel’s kitchen and we had everything we needed for a relaxing stay.
Double doors lead through to the bedroom with its feature king size bed, a second television, dressing table, ample wardrobe hanging space, hairdryer, iron, ironing board and direct line phone to reception. Along with some brightly coloured cushions and a throw I fell in love with a small furry cow sitting on the bed whose attached label suggested that we put the soft toy out on the doorstep should we not wish to be disturbed.
The spacious en-suite bathroom was off to one side of the bedroom and came with both a free standing slipper bath and large walk-in limestone shower. The luxury Temple Spa brand of toiletries are one of my favourites and I was pleased to find a complimentary selection to pamper myself with. As is to be expected with a hotel of this type, fluffy bath robes, slippers, bottled water and a large bale of thick towels were also at our disposal.
Dinner is served in the light and airy 2 AA rosette Weathervane Restaurant with head chef Jon Appelby utilising locally-sourced produce from Yorkshire to create memorable seasonal menus bursting with flavour.
We dined in the restaurant on both evenings, discovering that the Weathervane seemed to have got everything right from the meticulous preparation and careful presentation of each course to the stylish decor, starched white tablecloths, napkins, excellent service and relaxed atmosphere.
Menus range from a three course à la carte to a six course gourmet tasting menu, both of which are fine dining experiences. We feasted on starters of rabbit terrine with parkin toast and partridge breast served on a bed of pear. Mains of fillet of beef accompanied by a red wine jus served on a bed of winter vegetables and oven baked North Sea Halibut with a fresh soft herb and lemon crust with a flavoursome mussel broth were superb and worthy of any Michelin starred restaurant. My husband raved about his croissant and marmalade pudding drizzled with a crème anglaise sauce whilst I opted for the lighter but equally mouthwatering Dulce de Leche caramel tart. To accompany dinner, there’s a comprehensive wine list which covers all budgets with wine by the glass also available.
Breakfast is also served in the Weathervane and is a relaxed affair with a table of juices, cereals and freshly baked pastries to help yourself to.
From the cooked menu I ordered porridge which was up with one of the most delicious I’ve ever eaten, followed by my favourite of smashed avocado and poached eggs on toast. Across the table my husband tucked into smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on one morning and a full Yorkshire on the other, both setting him up nicely for the day ahead.
Verbena Spa – The hotel’s Verbena Spa is renowned as a haven of beauty and relaxation and with its outdoor pool heated year round it felt as if we had been transported to the Mediterranean as we enjoyed a twilight dip.
The terrace also boasts a hot tub and within the spa itself there are other temperature–based restorative treatments to experience, including the sauna, steam room, aromatherapy room, monsoon shower and foot spas.
Guests staying at the hotel are able to relax in the spa as often as they wish and I enjoyed my visits on both the days I was staying there. A range of spa treatments can also be booked with the spa suite having its own relaxation room with comfy sofas and some of the latest glossy magazines to sit back and read.
The Spa-tisserie operates in the summer months serving afternoon teas and light bites during the afternoon in the bar and out on the poolside terrace.
Lounges: The hotel boasts cosy lounges with board games to keep the entire family entertained, a small library and an inviting bar serving its very own Feversham Gin amongst other tipples.
Car parking: There’s an underground car park where guests are asked to move their cars to after unloading luggage and this is easily accessible from the main entrance.
Out and About:
There are a wealth of interesting places to visit in the surrounding area and with the North York Moors National Park being popular with walkers, there’s something for everyone. Do take a look at my suggestions.
Helmsley – take a stroll from the hotel to explore this picturesque town, a previous winner of the Great British High Street award (best market town category). The town has independent bookshops, boutiques, antique shops, galleries and a branch of the high quality Browns department store.
Friday is market day and we enjoyed wandering the stalls ranging from artisan cheese, fresh vegetables to cashmere knitwear.
Helmsley Castle – maintained by English Heritage, winter opening Friday – Sunday (standard admission £9). From the stylish visitor centre and gift shop follow the path through the castle ruins with information boards and audio guide points along the way. Discover how the castle evolved over the centuries from a medieval fortress to a Tudor mansion and a Civil War stronghold. Parts of the castle are still intact and contain a fascinating exhibition on the 900 year old castle’s history.
Rievaulx Abbey – a ruined Cistercian abbey on the North York Moors. This was one of the great abbeys in England until it was seized by Henry VIII in 1538 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The abbey is an easy three mile walk from the hotel taking around an hour or you can drive there as there is a good sized car park. The abbey is maintained by English Heritage with standard admission £10. It’s very atmospheric to wander through the abbey ruins and then visit the exhibition, cafe and gift shop.
Rievaulx Terrace – the park and garden was laid out around 1758 and has views of the Rye Valley and the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey. The gardens are maintained by the National Trust and contain Tuscan and Ionic temples adorned with paintings and intricate plasterwork. Closed during the winter months so we were unable to explore them on this visit. Standard admission £6.50.
Thirsk – a bustling market town located 14 miles from Helmsley. The town centre is arranged around an attractive marketplace with a clock tower as its centrepiece. With lots of inviting shops, pubs and cafes it’s a pleasant place to spend a few hours. If you are a fan of All Creatures Great and Small then you might also like to visit The World of James Herriot as Thirsk is the home of the original veterinary surgery on which the books and programme were based.
Pickering – enjoy exploring this bustling market town just a 20 minute car journey from Helmsley. Its streets are lined with characterful shops and cafes and with Pickering Castle and the Beck Isle Museum there’s much to see. Undoubtedly, the town’s main attraction is to take a ride through the stunning North York Moors on the famous North Yorks Moors Railway.
This service carries 350,000 passengers annually and is the most popular heritage steam railway in the U.K. The line runs a distance of 18 miles from Pickering to the seaside resort of Whitby. I would love to return to take this journey sometime as it does not operate during the winter months.
Malton – the town has become North Yorkshire’s foodie capital with its streets filled with small independent butchers, greengrocers, bakers and delis alongside numerous inviting cafes and restaurants.
The hotel has 33 rooms including pool side suites and main house rooms which have all been individually styled to a luxurious standard and I would have been happy staying in any of them. All members of staff have been well trained, taking a genuine interest in the well being of their guests. Dining in the Weathervane restaurant is a memorable experience and with the head chef popping out from the kitchen occasionally to speak to guests, a welcome change from a stuffy restaurant. The highlight for me was being able to swim outdoors in England in January without being freezing cold, who needs to go to the Caribbean when you can enjoy all this in North Yorkshire!
If my review of this gorgeous hotel may have tempted some of you to a winter break at The Feversham Arms then their current offer of a Gourmet Getaway may be of interest. At £337, this covers overnight accommodation for two people in a classic room and includes the six course tasting menu, breakfast, a bottle of house champagne in the room on arrival and full use of the Verbena spa facilities.
Details: The Feversham Arms Hotel and Verbena Spa 1-8 High Street, Helmsley, North Yorkshire YO62 5AG.
During our stay we were guests of the Feversham Arms Hotel and as always all views and opinions are entirely my own.
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