OASIS OF CALM
Victoria Wade checks into the Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa in Helmsley and discovers a Med-inspired haven of tranquillity and the perfect tonic to beat those post-holiday blues.
I once described the Feversham Arms in Helmsley as the Joanna Lumley of hotels, meaning posh but down-to-earth. But this time I was visiting with my 18-year-old daughter and Ms Lumley isn’t really on her radar, so metaphor lost, I decided to start afresh.
I love the Feversham, something wonderful happens when you get there, whatever your woes, they start to fade away on arrival. The setting helps, obviously – Helmsley is a joyous spot, the décor is lovely – country chic meets Mediterranean cool, and a heated outdoor pool in a north Yorkshire hotel is a definite crowd-pleaser, but there’s something else. Slightly more nuanced and all-encompassing is the overall sense of calm, a quiet but assertive suggestion to slow-down, relax, take a minute, breathe and smile.
Experienced lollers, we were easily persuaded to do all these things, so after checking in, we kicked off our shoes and headed straight to the poolside terrace for a quick game of cards and a snack from the Spa-tisserie where Mediterranean-inspired dishes are served between midday and 4pm. The perfect start to our sleepover.
We were very fortunate to be staying in one of the newly refurbished pool suites with its own little terrace and a definite ‘Feversham abroad’ quality about it.
Philippa Martin, Helmsley-based interior designer worked closely with Ingo Wiangke, general manager of the hotel, to cleverly create a stylish, contemporary, Mediterranean-feel in the suites, uncluttered and simple, with sky blue hues and pops of sunshine yellow, yet still in keeping with the more traditional, country-style aesthetic of the main hotel interior.
Beautifully equipped and proportioned with a spacious living area, separate bedroom and luxurious bathroom, it took us no time to make ourselves at home, robing-up for an afternoon round the pool, where it seemed all guests had fully taken on board the unspoken but clear Feversham guidelines to relaxation.
After a little pre-dinner stroll around the pretty market town of Helmsley, we dined at the two AA rosette Weathervane hotel restaurant where head chef Jon Appleby’s emphasis is on locally sourced and seasonal produce to create a tantalising modern British menu. Having convinced my teenager that now was not the time to be looking at the children’s menu, although I’m sure it’s a cut above the usual nuggets and chips, we opted to share a starter of Cauliflower Veloute, as velvety as the name suggests and served with a mini gruyere and pickled onion toastie, devoured in record time, along with the moreish organic sourdough bread.
For mains, we picked Salt-Aged Duck Breast and the Oven-baked North Sea Halibut, both beautifully presented, rich and totally delicious. We topped it off with the gorgeous Poached Peach and two spoons before heading back to our suite, comfortably full and all-smiles, with a plate of hand-made chocolates and the promise of a glorious night’s sleep.
Our stay was over all too quickly. Next time, we decided we’ll book a beauty treatment at the hotel’s beautiful Verbena Spa and make full use of the heat facilities, which include a sauna, steam room, aromatherapy room and hot tub, but there’s only so much two lazy oafs can do on an overnight stay and this visit was perfect for a bit of quiet, quality time together at a fabulous hotel in a stunning setting.
Experts in the art of creating calm, The Feversham team are kind, approachable, attentive and talented. They want you to enjoy your stay because they care, so I stand by my first thoughts about the hotel, it’s luxurious but has its feet firmly on the ground and in a crazy, fast-paced world of madness, isn’t that what we’re all looking for.