Shirl reviews the best of British in the heart of Yorkshire – Yorebridge House.
There are many things that make Yorkshire, well, Yorkshire, but some of the first things that spring to my mind are;
Well, to this auspicious list you can now add that it has my favourite hotel in the UK, Yorebridge House. Previously a Headmaster’s House and School it was lovingly transformed into a boutique hotel in 2006. Then they’ve only gone and created a superb 3 AA Rosette restaurant too. And, to top it all off, they are located in the pretty village of Bainbridge in Wensleydale in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. What more could you ask for? Oh, you want some more details. Ok, here goes…
Yorebridge House is a Victorian grade II listed, award winning 5 Star hotel set in 5 acres of land and flanked by 2 rivers. Inside it is warm, cosy and luxurious with 11 bedrooms, some with their own hot tubs. There is also a large Barn Suite in the village a 5 minute walk away. Each bedroom has been individually decorated and furnished to reflect a favourite place visited by the owners or on their wish list. Over our 5 visits we’ve stayed in 3 of the rooms; Jasper, the Canadian room; Mougins, the French room; and, my favourite Pienza, the Italian room. This is a spacious room decorated in shades of grey with a roll top bath in the bedroom overlooking the dale, but also with a generous double shower in the separate modern bathroom. And, as a greedy person, a welcome sight is always the jar of delicious homemade cookies just waiting next to the kettle and the coffee machine.
Then there are the squishy sofas in the public rooms, next to roaring fires, piles of newspapers and magazines and always a welcome glass of fizz. It takes about 2 seconds to relax here. And the other thing that separates Yorebridge House from so many other “fine”, “boutique”, “superior” etc hotels is the warmth of the welcome. Always immediate, always genuine. In fact on our visit last week it happened before I even got out of the car. Dave, the owner was straight across the car park to welcome us back as if old friends. And the day after we came home I got a phone call just to check we’d been happy with our visit. You can teach people how to welcome guests, you can teach them customer service skills, but you can’t feign the art of being genuine. And everyone we encounter at Yorebridge House has it. Even the staff cleaning the rooms have it; they smile, wish you a nice day, and you know they actually mean it. Priceless.
So I suppose that you’d like to know about the food (and drink). Drinks first, they do a mean cocktail. I should know, I’ve tried most of them. And they have their own beer, a Yorebridge Ale brewed just down the road. Apparently it tastes like “old pennies” and that, according to my husband, is the ultimate accolade for a pint of bitter! For the third year in a row, they have been awarded the AA Notable Wine List, accredited to only 150 UK restaurants. They do wine and champers by the glass with bottles from £28 for wine and £65 for Laurent Perrier champers.
Then there’s the food. With 3 AA Rosettes I’d argue it is severely underrated. There are several Michelin starred restaurants we’ve eaten in that don’t serve food this good. Even the Amuse Bouche are super special. Oh, and the butter. Marmite Butter, why didn’t I ever think of that? And, if there’s something wrong with you and you don’t like Marmite, there’s “normal” butter too. Our visit this time included delicious veloutes, fresh halibut and meltingly tender beef. My dessert of Caramac and rhubarb probably ages me as how many of you remember Caramac (I must find out if they still sell it) and the rhubarb was a revelation. No doubt from the Yorkshire Rhubarb Triangle a few miles away, it was served crisp. And it was amazing!
The kitchen is open to the restaurant and, if you position yourself in the right spot at the table you get to watch the chefs in action. Head chef Dan Shotton has a young brigade and they work smoothly and quietly to deliver plates of beauty and total deliciousness.
Finally, the location. If you haven’t stayed in Yorkshire before what’s been keeping you? At the top of this article I’ve listed 5 fab facts about Yorkshire, but I could list dozens more reasons to visit. The hotel is within walking distance of the beautiful little villages of Askrigg and Bainbridge. Hawes, home of the aforementioned Wensleydale Creamery, is only 4 miles away and has enough cheese to keep even Wallace happy. Reeth and Richmond, pretty market towns are 10 and 20 miles away respectively. There’s fantastic walking (I’d recommend the quite strenuous 9 mile walk straight from the hotel car park up the long roman road, around Semer Water, then back for a shower, a drink (or two) and dinner (there are shorter versions of this walk). For cyclists there’s the opportunity to test yourself against the best in the world by following some of the Tour de France/Yorkshire routes which pass close by.
Then there are Castles (Howard, Middleham and Bolton), Falls (Hardraw, Ingleton and Aysgarth), Rocks (Brimham), Caves (White Scarr ), Abbeys (Fountains), Historic Buildings (Newby Hall and Bowes Museum) and breweries (Black Sheep and Theakstons). And that should keep you going for a while.
So, as they (might) say in Yorkshire “Aye up. Get yersels to Yorebridge Hoose and ‘eee by gum, yerl soon be feelin’ champion!” Translation – “Hello. Take yourselves off to Yorebridge House and oh my goodness, you’ll soon be feeling fantastic.” (With apologies to the entire population of Yorkshire).
Bainbridge, North Yorkshire Dales, Great Britain, DL8 3EE
STOP PRESS – Yorebridge House has just been recognised as Gold Award Winners in the Boutique Guest Accommodation category at the 2018 Visit England Awards for Excellence. Now, didn’t I tell you they were good!
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