A hotel that feels as homely as Middlethorpe Hall is a rarity. 
Perhaps that’s because it was a home at one time.

Built at the beginning of the 18th century, the country house in York belonged to Thomas Barlow, a prosperous master cutler who bought the estate in a bid to establish himself as a country gentleman.

Three hundred years on, and it’s easy to picture yourself as a guest in Mr Barlow’s residence, such is the attention to historical detail in the hotel’s décor. 

A large, but cosy, drawing room is furnished with antiques and oil paintings, and old hardbacks line the shelves of an adjacent library.

And with only 29 bedrooms, a peaceful ambience fills the hotel that only adds to its homeliness. 

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Our two-night stay was in the Sir Francis Terry suite in a restored courtyard building adjacent to the hotel.

Entering the room, we were greeted by a spacious and tastefully decorated sitting room, complete with a sofa, two armchairs, and writing desk. A combination of fine prints and antique mirrors adorned the walls.

The television looked almost out of place in the room – more befitting was the row of books on a table.

My partner and I enjoyed the luxury of a bathroom each. And while they did not feature the power showers of more modern hotels, a soak in the capacious bath was the preferable choice in the historical setting.

We enjoyed a comfortable night’s sleep in the king-size double bed, and fresh water was provided in a bottle on a tray on the bedside table.

Surrounding the courtyard building are some of Middlethorpe Hall’s 20 acres of gardens. While the main house backs onto a traditional lawn, this leads to a series of planted areas including a beautiful walled kitchen garden that features a dovecote dating back to 1681, now used as a wine cellar.

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Leading from the kitchen garden is a spring garden, followed by a park and arboretum. A short stroll will eventually take you to a lake.

Produced in the gardens is a variety of fruit – apples, pears, plums, peaches, rhubarb, and greengages, all of which are used by the hotel’s head chef, Ashley Binder, and his team in their menus.

The restaurant, which features two dining rooms, has two AA Rosettes. Dishes are seasonal and traditional, with guests offered the choice of either the three-course a la carte or six-course tasting menu.

Following some delicious canapes and a glass of champagne on the terrace, we were led to our table. Friendly and attentive waiting staff offered us bread before taking our order. 

Opting for a three-course meal from the a la carte menu, I started with the heritage carrot, served with goats’ cheese, herb bavarois, and curry granola. The opposing textures and flavours of the cheese and granola worked wonderfully with carrot as the main component. 

For the main course, I chose a vegetarian dish – herb gnocchi with summer vegetables, tomato consommé and ricotta. Again, the flavours of the dish proved a perfect combination, and the crystal clear consommé was a delightfully light accompaniment to the soft pillows of gnocchi. 

My summery, seasonal dessert featured especially sweet Gariguette strawberries with clotted cream, shortbread and basil.

Dorset Echo:

Breakfast the following morning saw a wide variety of options offered, including a full ‘Yorkshire’ breakfast and a tasty range of continental choices.

Later in the morning, I stepped across the road to the spa opposite the hotel and was treated to a tailor-made facial. With the attractive façade of two listed Edwardian cottages, the spa is bordered by its own private garden.

Once handed your robe and slippers, you are free to saunter round in a bubble of relaxation while enjoying a large indoor swimming pool with views onto the garden. Guests can also take a dip in the spa bath, or spend a session in the steam room or sauna.

In the treatment room, I was asked about my skin care routine and a hydration facial was recommended. Breathing in the scent of frankincense, I was sent straight to the summit of relaxation with a head massage.

My face and neck was then cleansed, toned and moisturised, with each Aromatherapy Associates product expertly massaged into my skin. Even my arms and hands were given some attention while one of the facial masks worked its magic.

I came away from the treatment better informed about my skin’s needs, and my face felt soft as a feather.

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