Based in the heart of the Duke of Devonshire’s Bolton Abbey Estate, the quintessential country house that is the Devonshire Arms Hotel and Spa, provides a luxury break for those looking to relax and unwind in the Yorkshire Dales. It may be just 30 minutes from Harrogate and 45 minutes from Leeds but you will feel a whole world away as you relax into the glorious, green surroundings.
On arrival, we were warmly greeted by the team in the hotel lobby, before the friendly porter gave us a tour of the hotel to show us where everything was. After this, we checked into our room which was cosy and bright, with a large comfy bed and the most delicious homemade parkin to tuck into as a mid-afternoon snack. One of the perks about the room we were in, was that it had the most spectacular view out of the window of Beamsley Beacon, a 1300ft prominent summit that is one of the standout landmarks in the Lower Wharfedale area.
On our visit, we were blessed with glorious, sunny weather so a quick stroll down to Bolton Abbey was first on our agenda. From the hotel, this is a short 10-15-minute walk down along the River Wharfe. As the weather was so good, the grounds to the Abbey were filled with families unwrapping picnics, playing ball games and splashing around in the river. The closer you get to the ruins, the more the views develop and it’s not difficult to see why Bolton Abbey proves to be one of the most iconic, photographed areas in the county – it’s truly stunning. For those wanting to head further afield, there’s the Strid Wood and the Strid, an ancient woodland that is one of the most visited in the Yorkshire Dales. We’re lucky on our visit that we’ve come right at the start of the bluebell season and parts of the woodland was awash with vibrant, purple and blue colours. It was time to head to the hotel for us though, as we had an important date with dinner.
The Dev has long had a reputation for fine dining and the 3AA Rosette award-winning Burlington restaurant led by Head Chef Paul Evans, is the envy of many hotels in the country due to the quality of the food on offer. Before we got to the food though, we were presented with what could only be described as a wine bible – a leather-bound treasure trove of a book with hundreds of wines to choose from. There’s a heavy French influence with lots of wines from our friends across the Channel but there’s also a wealth of European and New World wines on offer too, so there’s something to fit everyone’s tastes and budgets.
After a selection of tasty canapes, we’re then brought dish after dish of delicious treats to digest. There’s a delightful sweetcorn panacotta, with smoked haddock and pickled mushrooms, there’s salmon served with crispy salmon skin, cucumber and three different types of beetroot all sourced from the kitchen gardens, there’s beef short rib with white onion and a lapsang souchong sauce – course after course is as visually impressive as it is delectable.
There’s something really satisfying about a chef who knows exactly what to put on the plate to make a dish truly memorable. What is also satisfying is the quality of the waiting staff here as well – all know the dishes thoroughly, are passionate about the food and where it comes from and are engaging and friendly to boot. We head to bed more than satisfied after an outstanding evening meal.
The area surrounding the Devonshire Arms is ideal for those wanting to experience the great outdoors. Walking in and around the Bolton Abbey estate and the Strid Wood has already been mentioned but the area is also becoming increasingly well known for cyclists with many heading to the area to experience riding on the same roads as the pros did during the Yorkshire Grand Départ and subsequent Tour de Yorkshire editions. However, we’ve got a rather more relaxed day planned as we’ve got a booking at The Devonshire Spa.
The Devonshire Spa is in an ancient barn which is just across the other side of the road from the hotel. As you walk in, you’re instantly welcomed by yet more friendly staff who check you in, pass you comfy robes, towels and everything else you need to enjoy your spa break. Once changed there’s a variety of options to enjoy from an indoor swimming pool to a jacuzzi in the main part of the barn to a steam room, sauna and tropical shower in rooms adjacent.
If you’re fancy a treatment or two, then you’re also in luck as they have a range of packages on offer. There’s ESPA facials, ESPA massages, detox and mud wraps, specific treatments for men plus a range of other treatments like waxing, manicures and pedicures. The treatments are also very reasonably priced considering the skills and expertise of the staff involved. We opt for a 30-minute back massage which was half an hour of bliss. The spa is as stylish as it is relaxing and within minutes we’re feeling recharged and rejuvenated.
All in all, a trip to the Devonshire Arms is a perfect escape to the countryside. With superb, knock out food on offer, acres of land to get out and explore and a luxury spa for those who want to just relax, you’re guaranteed a stunning stay when you visit.
The Devonshire Arms Hotel and Spa is located near Bolton Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales. The hotel won the coveted Large Hotel of the Year in last year's prestigious White Rose Awards. Visit http://thedevonshirearms.co.uk/ for more information.