Find Out What We Thought of Five-Star Grantley Hall
A visit to Grantley Hall is as much an adventure as it is a pleasure
On that summer’s day the hotel had just one bedroom completed – a sample of what was to come if you like, everything else was still a work in progress. Meeting the individuals involved in the project I was left in no doubt as to their ambition for this historic and magnificent hotel. On my return it is gratifying to see just how much has been achieved at Grantley Hall.
One of my main memories of the people I met on that first day was their enthusiasm to recruit and retain a staff that would be well above average, and well trained in the values of customer care. As we returned post-Covid our first impression at the gate-house reception at the end of the drive was that they had done exactly that: a young staff member sent us on our way up the impressive driveway that led to the hotel.
If first impressions count, and they do, Grantley Hall most certainly does not disappoint. The countryside is pure Yorkshire and the landscaped gardens a stylish contrast against the natural splendour of Yorkshire’s rolling acres. As we temporarily parked outside the entrance a small squadron of tweed clad, be-capped assistants hurried forth. The smiles could not have been warmer, the swift service was impeccable, and that continued throughout our stay. First up, however, was the offer to drive our car to the car park. This was a complete disaster for my nearest and dearest who had been instructing me to have the car cleaned for several months and was apologising profusely for the state of the car (or ‘the skip’ as she lovingly refers to it). ‘Oh, don’t worry, we get all sorts here. I had a hay bale in the back of one the other day,’ we were reassured. Good lad I thought, I like you. With the car being driven out of sight, away from the various Bentleys, we entered the ornate hall.
Checking in was a dream and after a short time we were shown to our impressive suite, our bags already waiting for us. Each room has unique attributes and ours, apart from the size, benefitted from a handsome view over the lawned gardens. But it’s the small details in the bedrooms and throughout the property that really make the difference – from fresh fruit to a stellar array of books in the bookcases, to the most generously proportioned bathroom you can imagine, the list goes on.
One thing that is inescapable throughout is the amount of space Grantley Hall enjoys and this is true of all areas, apart from the wood-panelled bar where space is deliberately restricted to add to the mood. The atria are huge and elegantly dotted with plants and subtle lighting, and as we meandered through the corridors we came across The Orchard and decided an early evening drink was in order. Once again space was the watchword, and despite it being chilly outside, this marquee-style structure was cosy enough and we discussed how fabulous it would be in the spring and summer as the evenings get longer. Although this is an extension to the main house it blends brilliantly. In fact probably the greatest triumph of Grantley Hall is in how the various different places and spaces all blend into a magnificent whole.
Dinner that evening was at Eighty-Eight, an intimate pan-Asian bar and restaurant in the hotel’s grounds. Instead of over-thinking the menu we decided to have an exploratory taste test of some of chef’s favourites. The cooking was exceptional in both flavour and in the creativity of its presentation. The service (from another local and delightfully helpful young waitress) was also of special note. Narrowly avoiding the temptation of a pre-bedtime swifty in the neighbouring Valeria’s Champagne & Cocktail Bar, we headed to our room for what turned out to be a very restful night’s sleep.
The following morning brought some welcome sunshine and tempted us into a brief, pre-breakfast stroll in the gardens. Breakfast is served in Fletchers, the hotel’s main restaurant. A full Yorkshire and an unlimited supply of coffee set us up handsomely for the day ahead. Admittedly there’s plenty to explore nearby, including romantic ruins of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, but we decided to stay put, exploring more of the impressive gardens and the hotel itself.
Another key attribute of Grantley Hall is the outstanding leisure facilities which essentially take on two faces: the calming Three Graces Spa and the altogether more demanding and exceptionally well equipped Elite Gym. We headed for the former! The spa is another cocooning part of the hotel and despite being busy it never seemed overly so. The pool cleverly includes an indoor/outdoor space and large jacuzzi pool, and the thermal experiences include a combination of steam, dry heat and ice. It was the sort of space you could spend a large part of the day in lounging around the pool on day beds (and it seemed many guests did just that) or equally just pop in for an invigorating swim and sauna. The adjoining Spa Lounge area offers a range of nutritious drinks and snacks and is a good place to relax, as is the adjoining outdoor terrace when the sun shines.
Suitably becalmed we planned the rest of the day, which included another dining experience, on this occasion a return to our breakfast venue, Fletchers. We enjoyed a quiet pre-dinner drink in the wood-panelled Norton Bar before heading into dinner. In contrast to the previous evening, Fletchers’ menu is very much about modern British cuisine. The restaurant sits in the Queen Anne wing of the building and its character could not contrast more heavily with our contemporary dining experience of the night before, but every dish was again outstanding.
Post another terrific Yorkshire breakfast and before we said our farewells we had booked a brace of treatments in the spa – the Kundalini for her and the Praia Vitality Massage for him. Both incredibly relaxing from beginning to end, the only issue was we needed to race back to the office… a mistake (on our part).
Staying at Grantley Hall is as much an adventure as it is a pleasure. One place we didn’t try was the Michelin-starred fine dining experience under the watch of hugely talented chef Shaun Rankin. The space is elegant and refined and a handsome backdrop for Rankin’s culinary verve. It has to be said, the dining experiences across the hotel differ dramatically but all are so outstanding it’s almost greedy having them all under one roof. The whole jigsaw is a gorgeous celebration of hospitality at its best, and for us, the staff are the excellent icing on this glorious Yorkshire delight.
There are many stories about the budget that has been put into delivering this oasis of luxury, but we will spare you those details. I’ll put it this way as it’s more dignified I think: when owner Valeria Sykes had a dream to create something she and Yorkshire could be proud of she wanted to make Grantley Hall magnificent in every way, and to the joy of its many visitors that dream has become a reality. Would I change anything? Of course I would. I’ve spent my working life looking at hotels and there are always changes to make. The key thing is that Grantley Hall is most definitely set to deliver pleasure to its many guests in the years to come, and it deserves its place at the very top of the country’s hospitality tree.