‘Wow wow wow!!!! This was the best hotel I have ever stayed at’, reads one review of the Feversham Arms on TripAdvisor. As you drift contentedly to sleep to the surreal sound of sheep bleating in the darkness, you’ll probably be inclined to agree.
Like the Mas Candille of which it is strongly reminiscent, this luxurious retreat in the market town of Helmsley is an ultra-grown-up hotel that’s also surprisingly welcoming to families – three of the suites around its outdoor pool (heated to a delicious temperature all year round) have separate bedrooms for kids in addition to a sofabed, and there are children’s menus at lunch and early dinner as well as high teas served either in your room or in the restaurant.
'Helmsley itself with its ruined castle and tea rooms is charming, or you might walk to nearby Rielvaux Abbey, one of several evocative ruined abbeys dotted about this deeply spiritual landscape. But with that outdoor pool (and the poolside eats and drinks available in warmer months), it’s tough going convincing yourself to brave the outside world.'
A very deserving past winner of the AA Hotel of the Year England, the Feversham oozes hospitality on a human-scale: there are only 33 suites and rooms, and the atmosphere is so cosy that no one bats an eyelid if you want to sit in the lovely garden surrounding the pool or on the spa terrace in your bathrobe, decadently scoffing a cream tea.
The Verbena Spa is utterly dreamy: the treatments themselves are some of the best I’ve ever experienced. But what really makes this spa stand out from the crowd is its large yet intimate lounge area full of fat scented candles, plump sofas just crying out to be snuggled up on, and a massive selection of books and mags. You could spend all day just hanging out there and be happy, helped along by free iced teas and a bar serving coffees and teas, drinks and an enticing tapas menu.
Chances are, you won’t want to leave the hotel, although Helmsley itself with its ruined castle and tea rooms is charming, or you might walk to nearby Rielvaux Abbey, one of several evocative ruined abbeys dotted about this deeply spiritual landscape. But with the addition of that pool (and the poolside eats and drinks available in warmer months), it’s tough going convincing yourself to brave the outside world.
I spent much of my time at the Feversham mentally listing people I’d recommend the place to at the first opportunity, for a special celebration or anniversary, and I’d also like to bring the kids – although I’ll wait until they’re a bit older as the pool is not the place for the wild splashing and noisy water games young boys tend to indulge in. I’d probably bring them for a night or two’s splurge after revisiting the Forest Holidays lodges in nearby Cropton Forest.
Or we’ll come as a Christmas treat – last year saw guests swimming outdoors surrounded by several inches of snow, and the hotel hosts festive family games and a guided walk to Rielvaux Abbey for hot chocolate and mince pies. But first on my list is to return with girlfriends for a sybaritic couple of days of cream teas, cocktails, magazine reading and spa indulgence.
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