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Middlethorpe Hall, York
This handsome William and Mary mansion ticks all the boxes for a country house hotel: period building, elegant rooms, spacious gardens, excellent food - but it's just two miles to the south of the city, and neatly opposite York Racecourse. The good-looking red-brick and limestone building doesn't disappoint inside. A sweep of dining and sitting rooms are rich with wood-panelling, vast windows and over-stuffed sofas while bedrooms, some in converted courtyard buildings, are plump with comfort and classic fabrics and antiques. Fine-dining food is served in intimate dining rooms, plus there are gardens to wander and a small spa and indoor pool to relax in.
It offers a delicious country house cocoon - but York's shopping, culture and pubs are just a 10-minute taxi-ride away. There's a pleasant walk, partly by the river, into the city; around 45 to 60 minutes. By whatever mode of transport, it's lovely to retreat here from the centre.
Middlethorpe Hall is in 20 acres of private grounds two miles outside York.
By car: the hotel is 40 minutes from Leeds, 1 hour 30 mins from Manchester and 4 hours 10 mins from London. There is free private parking at the hotel.
By train: London Kings Cross to York takes around 2 hours. The station is a 10-minute taxi ride from the hotel. thetrainline.com
Style & Character
The hotel suits anyone who likes the solidity and reassurance of a country house that's true to its age, and hasn't gone all designer-y. It's like staying in a National Trust property - in reality, it technically belongs to the Trust - but one without red ropes and annoying hordes of visitors.
Service & Facilities
We love being spoilt for choice over whether to take tea in the library room, hall, drawing-room or on the terrace. Dogs are allowed in the garden or cottage suites (not in the main house) and are royally welcomed with bed, bowl and treats. Even dog-walking is offered.
- Indoor pool
- Free Wi-Fi
- Free parking
The upstairs Courtyard rooms - choose one with a garden view - are cottagey and cosy; otherwise, if money to splash, go for the Lady Mary suite with its window seat overlooking the beech avenue. Every guest, in whichever room, is greeted with fresh fruit and flowers, chocolates and homemade biscuits.
Courtyard Rooms, Courtyard Suites, Main House Bedrooms, Cottage Suites, The Garden Suite, Main House Suites
Facilities include: ensuite bathroom, Penhaligon Quercus toiletries, TV and DVD player, free Wi-Fi, trouser press, alarm clock, tea and coffee tray with filtered water
Food & Drink
The setting in the Oak Room with its panelled walls, silver candlesticks and crisp white linen - with a wine list as fat as an encyclopaedia - is fairytale perfect. Puddings are works of art: try and resist Yorkshire rhubarb, crème anglaise, parkin, beurre noisette and mint.
The restaurant: 2 AA Rosettes, smart fine dining, inventive British cuisine, tasting menu. Two courses £39, three courses £45. Open every day for breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner, plus Sat & Sun lunch.