The Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey Estate

View from our room window
View from our room window

Only a 45 minute drive from my Yorkshire home, The Devonshire Arms is situated on the 30,000 acre Bolton Abbey Estate and is owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.

We pulled up to a grand ivy covered property with immaculately maintained gardens standing in all its splendour. Greeted by a porch filled with green wellies and a roaring log fire, there’s nothing understated about the arrival (or the rest of the hotel for that matter). Magnificent paintings and antlers hang from the walls and the lounges are furnished with antiques, heavy draping curtains and sofas you sink into.

We were welcomed by a tour of the hotel before being showed to our room – a contrast to downstairs, the room was light with soft creams and pastels and a stunning view across the estate towards Bolton Abbey. The wall between the bedroom and bathroom featured a large glass window which caused much amusement but fortunately had sliding canvas doors for privacy.Room Window

A gentle stroll alongside the river leads to the ruins of Bolton Abbey. After weeks of dreary weather, we couldn’t have been luckier to spend the day in glorious sunshine and a blue cloudless sky.Bolton Abbey

The Burlington Restaurant is the highest rated restaurant in Yorkshire with a Michelin star and 4 AA rosettes and the Devonshire Brasserie and Bar is lively and vibrant and wouldn’t have been out of place in a city setting. Feeling like a more informal atmosphere, we opted for the brasserie for dinner.

We began with an aperitif of prosecco. Fortunately for me my partner had a change of tune and I began the evening with two glasses of prosecco. Perfect. The menu had just the right selection – not too many you’re stuck for choice and few enough to make you try something different.

GnocchiDan’s Wild Rabbit & Tomato Ragout with Pan Fried Potato Gnocchi and Pesto was light, well-seasoned and the meat was succulent and tasty. This contrasted with my heavier starter of Pan Fried Pigeon Breast with a rich accompaniment of Brussel Sprouts, Pancetta, Juniper Jus. WePigeon ate half and switched over, not wanting to miss out on either.

My pork fillet medallions were cooked very well, moist and tender and came with a Bacon & Apple Potato Rosti, Wild Mushrooms, Celeriac Puree and Thyme Jus. Dan’s Pan Fried VenisonVenison Haunch Steak came with creamy Dauphinoise Potatoes, Braised Red Cabbage and a sharp Blackberry Jus.

Portions were a healthy size without being overwhelming and we had just enough room to squeeze in a cheese board of Harrogate Blue, Gjetost (with a sweet caramel flavour and colour that could easily be confused with fudge), Livarot, Cooleeney, Wensleydale Special Reserve andPork Black Crowdie.

The Devonshire Arms prides itself on having “one of the finest wine lists in the country” and we were successful in wangling an envied tour of the hotel’s wine cellar courtesy of the lovely Ben. The list includes over 2,500 wines with the oldest vintage dating back to 1900. Whilst there are a number of reasonably priced bottles, the prices for the fine and the rare frequently reach 4 digits.

We retired to the interestingly themed “dog” lounge for cocktails after dinner, decorated with velvet dog print wallpaper, dog paintings and everything else dog related and reclined into another deep sofa with a very potent Apple Martini (seriously, that’ll put hairs on your chest!). The hotel is dog friendly and we had the company of 4 canine guests sprawled contentedly in front of a log fire.Dog Lounge

Breakfast the following morning was just what the doctor ordered. A Yorkshire fried breakfast and pot of tea in The Burlington Restaurant set us up for a work out in the hotel’s gym. The Health Barn consists of a small gym, swimming pool, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and cold plunge pool – I tried all bar the cold plunge (not that I’m a wuss or anything). There’s also a good range of spa treatments but book in advance, I left it a week before and both days were fully booked.

It was a wonderful few days and the perfect romantic getaways so fellas, get your hands in your pockets and whisk your lady away – http://www.thedevonshirearms.co.uk.

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The Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey Estate

White Swan Inn, Pickering

 

This weekend I had the great pleasure of staying at the stunning White Swan Inn, a 16th century coaching inn located in the beautiful Yorkshire market town of Pickering, just on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors.

It is in a prime location, only 45 minutes from York and 30 minutes from the picturesque fishing village of Whitby on the Scarborough coast. The quintessential fishing village of Whitby, nestling beneath it’s 13th Century abbey, is packed full of charm. We parked at West Cliff, where you can climb down steps to the beach, and strolled down the prom and around the Bay – the smell of fish and chips radiates from the streets where there are a number of seafood restaurants and chippies serving the day’s catch of fish. I’d packed a picnic and we sat on the windy beach looking across at the beautiful town. Feeling enthusiastic after lunch, we then tackled the 199 steps up to Whitby Abbey with splendid views overlooking Whitby Bay and had a stroll along the cliff tops.

Not afraid of being the clichéd tourist, we stopped at Goathland on the way back to Pickering, a village which Heartbeat lovers will recognise as Aidensfield. We visited all the iconic Heartbeat sets, including the Aidensfied Garage and Grocery Store, saw Greengrass’s farm and had half a pint in the Aidensfield Arms – unfortunately, in a moment of excitement, I accidentally threw my drink all over Dan who spent the rest of the afternoon looking as though he’d had an accident. Safe to say I was in the bad books!

So, with beer stained trousers, we headed to check in at the White Swan Inn. We were welcomed by friendly and attentive staff who led us to our room – the ‘Hideaway Treat’ –

White Swan Inn

situated separate to the main hotel in a very attractively converted stable block.

Our luxurious two-storey room had a downstairs sitting room with a large free-standing bath (equipped with candles and bath soak for the more romantic guests), a chaise longue and a wide-screen TV. Leading from the sitting area was a stunning wet room with a double shower (plenty of room for two). Upstairs, the spectacular bedroom with king size bed had French windows and a ‘Juliet’ balcony

I was blown away by the interior design of the hotel and our room – hats off to the designer! Each room is individually themed and every item has been specifically selected with this in mind – it really is incredible and extravagant. Our contemporary room was light and spacious with blues and creams, gleaming metal and a chandelier. A stunning portrait of a woman hung on the wall in the bedroom and I had to try my best not to run away with it! The hotel is owned by Marion and Victor Buchanan and it is Marion’s eye for design that is behind the creative and imaginative decor of the hotel. This is a talent she carries out professionally outside of the White Swan Inn and something she is passionate about developing.

There is a real personal feel to the place – from the attentiveness of the staff, to the human touch that’s evident in the decoration and the care and thought that has gone into producing all the great information about the hotel. Dan and I sat for a good 20 minutes reading the welcome booklet which is written with wit and personality. I almost felt like I’d been friends with the owners for years. I particularly enjoyed the bar information; “a late bar may be available to those that have dined with us at the discretion of the manager on duty. Bribery often works. Anyone crawling in after hours from other hostelries should go straight to bed in disgrace”.

The private club lounge for guests is a perfect space to relax – again designed to be a homely, welcoming place for guests to unwind, there is an honesty bar, a selection of the day’s newspapers and a pool table. As we had a little time before dinner, we went inside and I wupped Dan at a game of pool – five years and I’m still surprising him with my endless talents!

We headed over to the main hotel for dinner where we were greeted by a member of staff and taken into the bar to have a drink and look over the menus before dinner.  The menus change regularly as the hotel is renowned for using fresh, seasonal local produce. On the website, chef Darren Clemmit guarantees that over 80% of the ingredients used in the kitchen are sourced locally within Yorkshire.

There is an extensive wine list of reasonably priced wines – I ordered a bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc for £17.95 which was waiting for us at our table when we moved into the dining room. Again, the dining room – low ceilings with warm reds and browns – had been designed to reflect the era and style of the 16th century inn. One wall has ingeniously been collaged with the lids from wooden champagne boxes.

We were impressed to note that even though we’d ordered our dinner from the bar, the waiting staff in the dining room knew exactly who had ordered which meal and our plates were placed confidently in front of us, no questions asked.

To start, I had grilled Rowley round goat’s cheese, beetroot relish, wild rocket and pesto (£7.95), followed by slow cooked plum pudding breed belly pork, braised red cabbage, bramley apple sauce and mustard mash (£16.95). The goat’s cheese was delicious, warm and caramelised on top. The pork was sublime, beautifully tender, melting in the mouth. Both dishes were extraordinary.

Dan’s potted pork with apricot chutney and roasted sour dough (£7.95) starter was equally delicious and he described it as ‘the best starter he’d ever had’ – this is far more significant than you realise. Usually a lot less enthralled by food then me, I rarely get any feedback, especially of the enthusiastic nature. This was followed by seared salmon, white wine, chive veloute, buttery mash and green vegetables (£17.95). Based on the scraped clean plate and the sighs of appreciation, I’m guessing this too was a big hit. I was slightly nervous at one point that he was about to lick the plate clean.

In our struggle to pick a dessert from the list, a helpful waitress recommended the trio of desserts; strawberries with mascarpone cream, glazed lemon tart and sticky toffee pudding (£11.95) and it was nice to be able to sample a mixture of tastes. My favourite was the lemon tart which had been caramelised on top to add a crunchy texture.

Breakfast was equally spectacular. After we had tucked into helpings of cereal from the breakfast buffet table, we both tackled a Yorkshire breakfast of bacon, egg, sausage, black

Trio of desserts… I have half eaten the lemon tart and tried to disguise it with raspberries.

pudding and toast. Coming from a girl who isn’t a great fan of sausages, the sausages were amazing. All meat, except feathered or with antlers, comes from the Ginger Pig, the prestigious chain of London butchers whose farms are in North Yorkshire only seven miles away from the White Swan Inn. If I can offer you any advice, do not, whatever you do, live a life having not sampled one of these sausages.

We both agreed that it was the most perfect dinner and overnight stay we’ve had. Although the majority of other guests appeared to be around the 40+ age group, I’d certainly recommend the White Swan Inn to couples my age. Although it’s family-friendly, I’d say it is more suited to couples looking for a romantic retreat. The only disappointment of the stay was having to leave the next day – I’d have quite happily stayed forever. That, and the fact that I had to return home to my boring shower after experiencing the delights of a double shower – I don’t think showering will ever be the same again.

White Swan Inn, Pickering