The country house hotel offering in the south of England has never been better.
We’ve seen a six-year renovation completed on Hampshire’s 18th-century mansion Heckfield Place; the sprawling former home of press baron Lord Beaverbrook has given Surrey an exquisite hotel — and world-class spa — in the form of Beaverbrook; and just this summer, South African hoteliers Karen Roos and Koos Bekker unveiled the eagerly anticipated country pile The Newt in Somerset.
Now, it’s time to turn our attention to the North.
A 17th-century stately home in the Yorkshire Dales, Grantley Hall has been through a myriad of guises, from family mansion to a convalescent home during the Second World War — to an adult education college. After falling into some disrepair it has been rescued, undergone a £70 million revamp, and turned into a Relais & Châteaux, five-star hotel which opened in July.
Evidence of the investment hits you the minute the car door is opened by attentive staff at the entrance. Inside, charming landscape paintings adorn the walls and vases of white roses decorate the surfaces.
Attention to detail is key, from the restoration of period features, such as the Grade II-listed Japanese garden, to the Norton Bar, showcasing some of the original wood-panelling alongside deep velvet sofas — an appropriate setting to sample a Grantley gin, created up the road especially for the hotel.
A pillow and robe menu is on hand to personalise your comfort, while the Victoria + Albert baths in each of the 47 rooms are so deep you could almost swim in them. But a spin in the 18-metre pool in the Three Graces Spa should suffice for those seeking a morning workout. To really unwind, book in a treatment — the benefits of the Manipura massage include increased vitality and positivity, thanks to the Himalayan Crystal Scrub which purifies and detoxes the body.
Dinner is served in Shaun Rankin’s restaurant, with a tasting menu inspired by his childhood growing up in Yorkshire, including bread and beef dripping. For a more laid-back vibe book the EightyEight restaurant to sample pork belly bao and spiced lamb, all with a Northern twist.
Before you fall into the sumptuous beds, party the night away in the champagne bar. Valeria’s, named after owner Valeria Sykes, brings a glamorous vibe to this lovely part of the country.
Rooms start from £275 per night; LNER trains run from King’s Cross to York.
Grantley Hall, Ripon, HG4 3ET. grantleyhall.co.uk.