Set amongst lush green countryside and surrounded by dense woodland lies one of North Yorkshire’s finest country house hotels – Crathorne Hall Hotel.
Built in 1906 by the Dugdale family, this Grade II listed house was designed for large scale entertaining and has long been a favourite with lords, queens and diplomats over the years. Now, following a £4million investment, it is more popular than ever.
Despite being only a few minutes away from the busy A19, which links the North-East with Yorkshire, Crathorne Hall gives the impression of being a million miles away from civilisation – indeed, the only sound that greets us as we arrive at the magnificent country house after a short drive up the narrow, sweeping driveway was the sound of a cool winters breeze rustling through the nearby trees.
Housing 37 bedrooms (17 of which were refurbished after the fire), a two AA rosette restaurant, drawing room, lounge areas and extensive conference facilities, the first thing that strikes you about this glorious stately home is its size – it was the largest country house built during the reign of Edward VII and is a fine example of Edwardian architecture and design.
But rather than being intimidated by the grandeur, you’re instantly made to feel at home by the cosy interiors and friendly staff who are on hand to help with anything, from carrying your bags to making your drinks. After a warm Yorkshire welcome we’re whisked up the stunning grand staircase to our room in the newly-built east wing, which is bright, modern and filled with luxurious furnishings.
The luxury doesn’t stop there though. Our room, Ormesby - named after the nearby Middlesbrough suburb – is nothing short of perfect. With sophisticated decor, an elegant super king four poster bed, plush sofa and huge bathroom with Villeroy and Boch fittings, it oozes luxury and opulence. Formerly Lord Crathorne’s nanny’s room, the suite is large and open plan, and features a beautiful original fireplace, as well as stunning views across the beautiful 15 acre private grounds and Leven Valley.
The elegant Nancy Tennant Bar – the original billiards room - is open to anyone to relax and enjoy, and serves morning coffee, light lunches, delicious looking afternoon tea, and pre-dinner drinks. We opted for the latter and enjoyed a couple of hours of relaxation before heading to dinner in The Leven Restaurant, where the award-winning food is quite simply spectacular.
We chose from the festive menu which had a great range of inventive-looking starters, mains and desserts made using the finest local produce, some of which has been grown on-site in the herb garden created by Head Chef, Alan Robinson.
After devouring some freshly-baked bread rolls and trio of delicate canapes (all of which were stunning), I finally settled on the terrine of duck liver and port, toasted brioche with pear and saffron salsa to start, while my partner, Mike, chose the tian of crab with lemon puree, fennel and radish salad. Both were divine and not too filling. Main course for me was an elegant Christmas dinner while Mike chose the ribeye steak – a perfectly cooked piece of meat which he declared the best steak he’s ever eaten.
The style at Crathorne Hall is leisurely and relaxed, and the same goes for dinner - diners are encouraged to unwind, sit back and savour their food. Thanks to this unhurried pace we had just enough room for dessert. We opted for a huge piece of warm treacle tart with orange marmalade and crème fraiche ice cream, and Crème brûlée, beautiful biscotti and fruit cake ice cream, which to my surprise tasted just like the real thing!
We really couldn’t fault anything. Every morsel was delicious and the waiters friendly and welcoming - a theme which continued through to the next morning at breakfast.
Back in the Leven Restaurant we watched pheasants and rabbits playing on the manicured lawns outside while perusing the extensive menu filled with delicacies like kippers, eggs benedict and waffles with bacon and maple syrup, as well as a huge continental offering with pastries, cereal and fresh fruit. Eventually we settled on a full Crathorne breakfast, which was filled with everything you’d expect from a proper Yorkshire breakfast - perfectly cooked and absolutely delicious, setting us up for a day of Christmas shopping in the nearby market town of Yarm.
All in all, if you’re looking for a relaxing stay with divine food, fantastic surroundings and a Yorkshire welcome, you’d be hard pushed to find a better place than Crathorne Hall.
For more information, visit www.handpickedhotels.co.uk/crathornehall