THE NORTH YORKSHIRE town of Helmsley is home to the AA’s latest Hotel of the Year, a luxury spa hotel tucked away in an ancient coaching inn.
FROM THE outside, The Feversham Arms Hotel looks impressive enough. Its mellow sandstone walls and traditional frontage fit perfectly in the picturesque North Yorkshire market town of Helmsley. But given the fact it is also an award-winning spa hotel you soon realise its true beauty lies within.
It is only when you get inside this former coaching inn that you discover the outdoor heated pool glistening at the centre of its courtyard terrace. And only once inside the rooms do you appreciate the attention to detail in their design. It comes as no surprise that the ‘Fev’ as it is affectionately known, scooped the AA Hotel of the Year 2009 – 2010.
The hotel is wrapped around the lovely RHS-designed Mediterranean-style terrace. Its 33 bedrooms each offer something different. Our roomy Spa suite had a separate living room and spacious ensuite. At night its balcony overlooked the poolside terrace illuminated by fairy lights entwined around espaliered trees. By day it offered a great view of Helmsley’s 12th century castle.
Traditional William Morris wallpaper, tongue and groove panelling and sumptuous fabrics contrast with the hi-tech Bang and Olufson TV and sound system. Add champagne, L’Occitane toiletries, local Sheep Dip bubble bath, magazines and books and it’s a wonder we made it to dinner.
The glass-roofed restaurant serves up locally-sourced food. It’s a simple menu but beautifully presented and cooked to perfection. Our set price menu at £33.00 included a melt in the mouth, slow-cooked pork cheek and fillet with an excellent choice of cheeses to tantalise the taste buds, notably the deliciously tangy Swaledale Blue. Dinner options also include an à la carte and a tasting menu.
Comfy corners, stacked with books and magazines, log fires, oversize lamps and plump cushions make it easy to relax whether in the library, snug bar or by the pool. The attentive staff are ever helpful and friendly too. The décor is country chic, luxurious without being ostentatious.
The Verbena Spa, reached via a glass walkway, is a heavenly retreat. The newly launched Anne Sémonin Royal Ice Miracle Facial was an hour’s worth of sheer relaxation as therapist Sarah massaged essential oils into my skin, finishing with an exhilarating ice massage leaving my face cleansed and glowing.
Should you wish to venture out the North York Moors is right on your doorstep; Rievaulx Abbey is down the road; the coast is a short journey and York a few miles south. Alternatively, you could just browse Helmsley’s boutiques, cafes and galleries.
However you spend your time, you will leave with spirits lifted. Our stay was 24-hours of indulgence but with memories lasting much longer.
The Feversham Arms Hotel and Verbena Spa (4-star), Helmsley, North Yorkshire YO62 5AG; tel: (01439) 770766. Prices range from £150-£385 for a double room. Report by Sarah Banks