Set in verdant parkland as beautiful as a film set, Grantley Hall has become synonymous with quintessential British luxury. It seemed the perfect place for my very first visit to the north of England as a Londoner who was suspicious of anything beyond the bubble of Zone 1. This Relais & Châteaux-listed hotel is a striking example of Palladian architecture, and those in the know flock to North Yorkshire to stay for a few days. Here, they can dine in the head chef Shaun Rankin’s selection of exquisite restaurants, swim in the hotel’s marble-adorned pool and train in the world-class gym facilities.
Having been passed down through many aristocratic families over the years, the property is now owned by Valeria and Paul Sykes and is the definition of an elegantly reinterpreted hotel for the 21st century. The interiors cleverly mix the old and the new, with soft creams, Wedgwood blues and oak panelling blending effortlessly with velvet furniture and modern fairylight-flecked indoor and outdoor terraces. An eclectic collection of art covers the walls, there are pots planted with wild orchids and tropical greenery at every turn, and its modern extension has a first-floor atrium filled with olive-trees and Greek-style marble statues.
Comfort reigns supreme in all of the 47 bedrooms and suites, which have a country-house aesthetic. Muted greys, shades of golds and creams, huge upholstered bedheads and bespoke marble-topped furniture decorate every nook and cranny. In our signature suite, the shelves were lined with coffee-table books (including fashionable tomes on Chanel and Tom Ford), there was a help-yourself decanter filled with gin and a television hidden behind a painting. The vast marble bathroom had a freestanding tub, a walk-in shower and luxurious products.
The food at Grantley Hall is exceptional. There are five options, which range from fine-dining to pan-Asian, but the star of the show is undoubtedly Shaun Rankin’s main restaurant. The Michelin-starred menu is creative, unpretentious and celebrates the hotel’s north Yorkshire setting. We enjoyed 10 courses, including baby vegetables on a bed of mushroom ‘soil’; bread and butter with dripping beef tea (akin to a piping pot of gravy); tender venison loin drenched in a delicious blackcurrant jus; locally sourced goat’s cheese served with honey; and a medley of desserts. Breakfast, which is also served here, is less extravagant, but you can order local charcuterie, eggs Benedict, a full Yorkshire and veggie fry-up, and fluffy pancakes crowned with berries and clotted cream.
Perhaps one of the major perks of staying at Grantley Hall is the hotel’s excellent wellness facilities. The magnificent Three Graces spa offers a thermal experience and snow-room, an 18-metre pool and an outdoor cedar hot-tub in which to relax. When it comes to treatments, expect wonderful facials and faultless mani-pedis. Elsewhere, the Elite Performance Centre has all kinds of high-tech training, from underwater treadmills, to 3D body scanners, and if you can brave it, a cryotherapy chamber.
Other than the epicurean delights, long soaks in the bath and romantic champagne picnics, what else is there do at Grantley Hall? Cycling, horse-riding and afternoon tea are clear choices, but once you get an idea of the enormity of the place, nothing tops the countless opportunities for England’s most cherished rural pastime: a long country walk. The artful gardens scattered with beautiful statues, rows of seasonal blooms and the beautiful Kyoto Garden, are good places to start.
For more information and to book visit www.grantleyhall.co.uk.