People travel from all over the world to experience the grandeur of Chatsworth House.
For Sheffield folk it’s familiar enough, but for something equally impressive there’s a different brand of Devonshire hospitality to be enjoyed – at the estate’s North Yorkshire outpost, Bolton Abbey.
The Devonshire Arms country house hotel is part of the group owned by the Duke. It’s the up-market sibling of our own Devonshire Arms, at Beeley and Pilsley, with own spa to boot.
It’s the kind of place where you settle down, forget the world and immerse yourself in a touch of luxury amid elegant surroundings, spectacular views, cosy log fires and exquisite food.
Our room had a lounge area and en-suite bathroom as well as a sumptuous four-poster bed. There were views over the hotel grounds and the countryside beyond and artwork including pieces from the Chatsworth collection.
A visit to the spa is a must: housed in an ancient barn, just over the road from the hotel, it has a good-sized pool, a hot tub, steam room and sauna.
There’s also a series of therapy rooms where the team will sooth away the stresses of city life with a massage, or coax the vibrance back into tired skin with a relaxing facial.
But for us the highlight of our stay was the food!
There’s a choice of places to eat, depending on your mood: a bright, contemporary brasserie, a more formal dining room, a number of lounges and a conservatory too.
We began here, overlooking the gardens, as we tucked into afternoon tea. It was a taste of quintessential English charm, all presented on a classic tiered stand, with silver teapots and china cups.
In the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, the hotel is the perfect base for walkers. We set out to burn off a few calories by exploring nearby Bolton Abbey, a picturesque ruin on the River Wharfe.
The estate alone extends to 50 square miles of unspoilt countryside, with beautiful limestone gorges and pretty villages that make the perfect backdrop whether you’re walking, cycling or simply admiring the view.
There are plenty of focal points for visitors, from historic castles to craft shops and galleries. And for those who enjoy a spot of retail therapy, Skipton and Harrogate are both nearby.
The Devonshire also lays on its own entertainment from time to time: and food events are a speciality.
Next week (December 1 - 7) is Food & Wine Week, with guest appearances and demonstrations from big names including The Dev’s own head chef Adam Smith, Michelin-starred Andrew Pern of The Star at Harome and Mark Birchall from L’enclume.
We got a taste of delights to come with the Dev’s regular seven-course tasting menu: a beautifully executed feast that looks as good as it tastes. With a wine to complement each dish, it showcases fresh Yorkshire produce - some of it grown in the hotel garden - as well as the kitchen’s skills.
The experience started with canapés in the bar and continued with seven courses of exquisite delights.
Highlights included succulent scallops and little pork croquettes garnished with flower petals and herbs; delicious salt-baked carrot, pickled in star anise; turbot with champagne sauce; and apple and creme fraiche in a crisp brandysnap tube.
Completing the experience with coffee and petit fours, we reflected that there was no better way - and no more welcoming place - to appreciate the delights of the Yorkshire Dales.
Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa, Bolton Abbey, Skipton, North Yorkshire BD23 6AJ
Tel: 01756 710441 www.thedevonshirearms.co.uk
Spa by candlelight, plus dinner, bed & breakfast - from £125 per person
Food & wine week: December 1 - 7, for details see website