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Swinton Park, Masham, Yorkshire
Swinton Park offers a taste of country-estate living in a grand, castellated manor house surrounded by 200 acres of grounds. From its sweeping drive and impressive entrance tower to its public rooms and bedrooms, everything is on a big scale. Still owned by descendants of the Victorian Yorkshire wool merchant who turned it into a castle, it's furnished in traditional, English stately-home style rather than any fancy designer makeover. The exception is the chic spa wing with its indoor and outdoor pools, among other modern facilities. There are two dining choices - formal fine-dining and more contemporary - and heaps to do without leaving the estate, from country pursuits and golf to a cookery school. Romantics or friends and families will all be entertained.
The Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park has a superb collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias, and striking sculptures.
The hotel is surrounded by the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with lots of country walks on your doorstep. The cathedral city of Ripon is 20 minutes' drive away.
By car: Swinton Park is 1 hour from Leeds, 2 hours from Manchester and 4 hours 20 mins from London. There is plenty of free parking on-site.
By train: London Kings Cross to Thirsk station (via York) takes around 2 hours 50 mins. The hotel is a 30 minute taxi ride from the station. thetrainline.com
Style & Character
Romantics, spa bunnies, country-pursuits lovers and multi-generation families will all find entertainment and relaxation. Sinking into a sofa in the startling peppermint-and-jade, semi-circular drawing room is like being on the set of a period drama.
Service & Facilities
After a walk through the woods, we explored the four-acre walled kitchen garden, and felt like we'd found a lost Eden. Dogs are allowed in certain bedrooms, one of the lounges and can join owners for meals either in the bar of the Terrace Restaurant or at outside tables. Towels are provided for muddy walks.
- Two restaurants
- Indoor and outdoor pools
- Kitchen garden
- Free parking
- Free Wi-Fi
While the top Turret Suite spreads over three floors, and Bradford has a bath in a bay window, we like Harrogate best - with its double-aspect, bright colours and huge walk-in shower. All the rooms come with coffee machines, homemade biscuits and a small decanter of sloe gin.
Knights, Barons, Dukes, Earls, Suites, Signature Suites, Swinton Cottages
Facilities include: ensuite bathroom with walk-in shower and bath, hairdryer, robes, slippers, tea and coffee facilities, mineral water, TV, free Wi-Fi
Food & Drink
The views are lovely - over the grounds and woods in Samuel's, or over the garden from the Terrace - so bag a window table. The more casual Terrace restaurant has more choice, and great veggie dishes such as baked garden beetroot with honey granola and goats' cheese mousse.
Samuel's Restaurant: fine dining, inventive British cuisine, produce from the estate. Open for dinner Thurs-Sun and Sunday lunch. Three courses £60pp, Sunday lunch £35pp.
The Terrace Restaurant & Bar: relaxed, open kitchen, seasonal menus, outdoor seating, charcoal grill. Open every day for brunch, lunch, dinner and cocktails. Mains from £18.