Grantley Hall – Yorkshire’s latest luxurious unveiling in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales – is a moveable feast in more ways than one. Emma Rowbottom enjoyed a taste of what’s on offer…
E xpectation – a word loaded with anticipation, that’s not always met and rarely exceeded. In a world where consumer knowledge is at an all-time high, it can be hard for brands – both old and new – to provide a truly immersive experience and an offering that leaves a wow factor long after a guest has gone. But that’s what Grantley Hall – the newest Yorkshire outpost nestled near Ripon in the heart of the picturesque Yorkshire Dales – has done, in spades. This three-and-a-half-year, multi-million pound restoration project has returned the 17th century Palladian mansion to its former glory and its inventive new chatelaine, Valeria Sykes, has managed to breathe new life into the 300-year-old building, merging classic with contemporary to great effect.
And what an effect it has. Partridges and pheasants roam free on the majestic oak-lined drive along the River Skell to the statuesque Grade II listed mansion house (which has welcomed royalty, members of parliament, celebrities and socialites in a former life). Once you arrive, you’re met in thoroughly modern Downton Abbey style, and ushered in to a truly spectacular art-lined, fresh flower adorned reception. Greeted by a smiling, efficient and unhurried array of staff and enveloped in the signature scent (bespoke sensorial fragrances permeate all areas of Grantley Hall, from spa to bar), it’s exactly the kind of welcome you’d expect, given the grandeur, and sets the scene for what promises to be a stay to remember.
It’s no surprise then that the hotel, which offers 47 exquisite rooms and suites (starting from £345 up to a cool £2,750 per night) has already been awarded the ‘Best Wellness Retreat’ by The Sunday Times Travel 100 Best Hotels since opening in July 2019. Rooms are located in both the Hall (with period rooms and views of the gardens) and the new Fountains Wing (where a more contemporary approach to interior design has been executed to great effect). Our room, The Lady Caroline Suite, overlooked the formal gardens and fountain, with a luxurious king size bed and a pillow menu for those, like myself, who take their sleep seriously. Large bottles of delicious damson gin feature in all bedrooms for guests to sample, while a hidden pantry provides complimentary soft drinks and snacks including ‘nowt on’ Yorkshire crisps and salted caramel shortbread. An oversized marble bathroom features a roll-top bath, twin basins and walk-in shower leading into a dressing room, for the ultimate in luxury.
This luxury extends to the exceptional variety of dining options available, catering for every age range and palate. Guests can choose from the seasonal delights of Michelin-starred chef Shaun Rankin, take afternoon tea in the Drawing Room, enjoy all-day dining in Fletchers (where breakfast is also served) or luxuriate in the dark oak-panelled Norton Bar. If modern dining is more your vibe, then the Pan-Asian Bar and Restaurant EightyEight has your name on it (step inside and you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to a city centre outpost, while safely nestled in the heart of the countryside). A unique fusion of Yorkshire produce and far Eastern flavours, the décor boasts a Japanese cherry blossom-adorned ceiling and teal velvet seating for the ultimate in luxuriously relaxed dining. We enjoyed a delicious eight-course tasting menu, boasting delights including Sea Bream poke with yuzu oil, kumquat and melon radish; Korean Fried Cauliflower with chive aioli and house shichimi; finished, literally, with the icing on The Lucky Peach cake (Yuzu mousse, poached peaches, peach foam and walnut streusel, designed and developed by executive pastry chef Stefan Rose). Try the Insta-friendly dry ice-adorned Happiness cocktail while you’re there too (made from Chambord reduction, belsazar rose, strawberry infused Campari and lychee), and if you don’t want the night to end, Valeria’s nightclub is a stiletto-clad step away – attached by a walkway.
Adjoined to the main hotel is the tranquil Three Graces Spa, where a marble-lined pool, indoor-to-outdoor hydrotherapy pool, steam and snow room sit alongside a state-of-the-art gym, underwater treadmill and altitude training facility – should the temptation arise. If this all sounds too taxing, however, relaxation is offered via restorative spa treatments using Ila and Natura Bissé products. I enjoyed an hour-long Prana Vitality massage courtesy of Fabio – a full body massage that helps restore physical and mental strength (if your stay hasn’t done that already!) If that’s not enough to truly relax and unwind, hotel guests are also invited to a complimentary yoga session the morning after, which I enjoyed, luxuriously, as a one-to-one session.
While it’s true to say it’s what’s inside that usually counts, Grantley Hall really is as beautiful on the outside, too, and a selection of Le Chameau wellies means you’ll have no excuse not to explore. Set within its own perfectly manicured mature grounds, bespoke sculptures sit alongside a kitchen garden, apiary, and historic Japanese Garden – created using Brimham Rocks by former owner, Lady Jane Furness. Within the grounds are weirs and waterfalls, and gardens are thoughtfully and meticulously maintained, ensuring every area has been planted with precision and care, no stone left unturned. With the stunning Yorkshire Dales the backdrop, this location is perfect for guests looking to immerse themselves into the locality, but what Grantley Hall has done to great effect is to make it so impressive on every level that you’ll have no reason to leave. This Relais and Châteaux approved luxury hotel and wellness retreat is, without doubt, one of the jewels in Yorkshire’s crown, led into a new era by its new visionary queen of the castle.