TRAVEL REVIEW: Feversham Arms is a home away from home...
I'm feeling pretty special right now.
On arrival at The Feversham Arms, nestled in the lovely historic town of Helmsley, in the North York Moors, we hand our keys to a valet, who parks our car, whilst another member of staff takes our bags and leads us to our room - a gorgeous suite overlooking the hotel’s south-facing terrace garden.
Pampering and relaxation, I quickly realise, is what this place is all about. Our suite features a generous bedroom, a sitting room with a cosy sofa, real fireplace with basket of wood, and a table with an overflowing hospitality tray. The bathroom has a giant tub, with candles, a separate shower, and some fabulous complimentary products from the hotel’s in-house Verbena Spa. Our suite is one of 33 individually designed bedrooms and suites at the hotel, each with its own unique décor. All of the rooms feature luxurious Egyptian cotton sheets and Smart TVs with internet access. We’re here for a lightning quick break from the world, and have arrived just after breakfast, determined to eek out every ounce of restoration we can. So far it’s working.
“From our location it would be easy to assume we’re a country house hotel, but that wouldn’t be entirely true,” a hotel spokesman reveals.
“That said, strictly speaking, we’re not a boutique hotel either. What we are though is a luxury hideaway, designed to help our guests retreat, relax and indulge.”
Relaxing and indulging sounds like just what the doctor ordered, so our first stop is the spa. We slip straight into complementary dressing gowns and slippers and head downstairs. There are a wealth of treatments available in the spa’s seven treatment rooms - everything from facials and massages, to body scrubs and wraps, and even couples and pregnancy treatments - but today we head straight for the Heat Experience and spend the next hour exploring the aromatherapy room, salt inhalation chamber, saunarium, monsoon shower and foot spas. Once our skin is tingling and warm, we decide - despite the autumnal temperatures - to brave a visit to the terrace garden to try out the outdoor heated swimming pool and jacuzzi tub, which are both well-heated and utterly delightful. As we sit in the jacuzzi, enveloped up to our necks in soothing warm bubbles, while a dusting of cool rain peppers our faces, I can feel all my tension ebbing away. Perhaps that explains why our next visit to the spa’s relaxation lounge - with sofas you can sink into, plus plenty of books and magazines - turns into a 45-minute snooze. Perfection. After another go around the Heat Experience, we decide to shower and dress, and head out to explore the town.
Helmsley is the height of escapism; quaint and idyllic, and I half-expect to turn a corner and bump into Geraldine Granger, aka Dawn French, and the other Dibley residents. The town is very pretty, with lots of stone buildings set around a market square featuring a host of interesting craft and gift shops, pubs and cafes. The nearby Black Swan seems an ideal place to sink into a sofa and enjoy a cheeky daytime drink or two - and a delicious scone - whilst people watching.
Back at the hotel itself, we discover there’s plenty still to explore. The beautiful building, originally an old coaching inn that was rebuilt and renamed in 1885 by the Earl of Feversham, has a number of rooms and snugs where guests can spend time. It’s a little cool to sit out in the terrace garden today, so we head to the library instead, where we order hot drinks, and pull open a nearby Scrabble board box. It’s been years since my husband and I played Scrabble together - with a three-year-old at home, who has the time?! - and it is the perfect way to spend an hour. The library, with huge squishy armchairs and sofas, and its own bar, has a range of board games available, plus books, magazines and the day’s newspapers. In another room, by the main reception, we discover a shelf of DVDs, which can be borrowed and taken back to your room at any time, so we find a few favourite titles and call dibs.
After another hour reading books side-by-side in leather wingbacks, we head back to the suite, where my husband has to jump on a conference call, and so I decide to take advantage of the large bathtub, squeezing every delicious-smelling product I come across into the running water until it’s a sea of bubbles, waiting for me to dive in.
We’re booked in for dinner at 8pm, in the hotel’s Weathervane Restaurant. Its ethos, we’re told, is entrenched in its location, with locally sourced produce and food foraged from the North York Moors at the centre of many of the dishes. There are a number of options when it comes to dining, and the six-course tasting menu does sound incredible - especially when you add in the option of pairing the meal with a selection of wines and liquers chosen specifically to enhance each course - but we decide on this occasion to opt for the a’la carte menu.
Hubby’s starter is a confit duck and ham knuckle that is packed with flavour, accompanied by delicious celeriac remoulade, caper jam, hazelnut and quail egg, while I choose the tasty sea bass with courgette, melt-in-the-mouth risotto, summer beans, tomato and basil.
For the main course we both select the salt-aged 225g fillet of Hereford beef, with roasted carrot, roscoff onion, fine bean and truffle salad. It’s jaw-achingly good, and I can’t quite manage to finish the plentiful slab of meat that is cooked to perfection.
Though the strawberry souffle on the dessert menu does sound wonderful, we both have to admit defeat, and choose instead to retire to our room with our glasses of wine, and a selection of DVDs in our arms.
24 hours after we arrived - and following a delicious mouth-watering cooked breakfast back in the Weathervane - we take our car keys back from the cheery valet and head off home, thoroughly well-rested, relaxed, pampered and already planning our next visit.