Andrew McPherson has worked in his fair share of luxurious hotels. But at Grantley Hall, where he is now General Manager, and which is set to bring a new level of luxury to Yorkshire when it opens this summer, he’s a part of something truly special.
Having previously worked in some of the UK’s most outstanding hotels, Andrew has already been part of the team at Grantley Hall for two years – and the hotel isn’t due to welcome its first guests until this August. Set among the glorious surroundings of the Yorkshire Dales, Grantley Hall will be a luxury hotel and wellness retreat like no other. With 47 rooms and suites, a pioneering gym and wellness centre, a host of dining options and an English Heritage-listed Japanese Garden and lake, it will be Yorkshire’s ultimate luxury destination. ‘Our mission statement is to be one of the best hotels within the North, and I think within the United Kingdom,’ Andrew says.
With that aim in mind, earlier this year Grantley Hall announced a partnership with Yorkshire-born, Michelin-starred chef Shaun Rankin, who will be at the head of the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, set in one of the original public rooms, complete with beautiful original features.
There’ll also be a relaxed all-day dining restaurant (Fletchers) which Andrew hopes will showcase ‘the best that Yorkshire has to offer’, a vibrant pan-Asian restaurant (EightyEight) and a glamorous late-night Champagne and cocktail bar called Valeria’s. ‘The quality of our head chefs has really ramped up our food offering,’ Andrew says. ‘We know we’re going to have a great food offering.’
Andrew feels that the hotel’s pan-Asian restaurant and Champagne bar will really set it apart from the competition. ‘So many of the other country house hotels that exist out there, it sort of tails off by half past eight, nine o’ clock, and there’s not an awful lot left to do,’ he says. ‘I think having the ability to continue the Grantley Hall experience later on, giving that different dining experience, is head and shoulders above what the other hotels are able to offer.’
The hotel’s gym and wellness space is also set to be truly groundbreaking, with facilities including 3D body scanning and performance analysis, a Cryotherapy chamber and underwater treadmill, in addition to the tranquil Three Graces Spa, complete with 18-metre indoor swimming pool, indoor to outdoor hydrotherapy pool and thermal experiences. ‘There’s just nowhere else in the UK that’s doing that at the moment,’ says Andrew.
Originally built by Thomas Norton during the reign of Queen Anne, towards the end of the 17th century, Grantley Hall has had a rich history in itself, and its residents have played their part in the wider history of our society too. Caroline Norton (1808–1877) was an English social reformer, author and poet who, having left her abusive husband, was denied access to her sons and became passionately involved in the passage of laws promoting social justice, particularly those granting rights to married and divorced women. Her campaigning was a key factor in the Parliament of the time passing several acts in this area, including the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870. ‘It’s such an important milestone in giving women proper rights,’ says Andrew. ‘She was instrumental in making sure that happened.’
Later, during World War II, the Hall was a convalescent home caring for American, Jamaican and Canadian troops, and is known to have hosted visitors as distinguished as Vera Lynn, Queen Mary and the Princess Royal. Later still, it became an adult education college, before passing once again into private ownership, and being bought by the current owner, Valeria Sykes, in 2015. The opening this summer will be the culmination of a four-year, multi-million pound redevelopment which has restored the hall to its original 17th century glory.
The Norton Bar and Norton Lounge sit in what was the original East Wing of the building, which was added in around 1740. The beautiful panelled space has been carefully designed to make the most of the original panelling, without compromising on style. ‘It looks as if the whole room has been designed around the bar, but in fact we’ve put a bar into this beautiful room,’ Andrew explains.
Another thing Andrew is particularly excited about is the Grantley Academy, which gives the team the ability to take young people who are looking at hospitality as a career and offer them a real development pathway, ‘going right from junior waiter up to a departmental manager,’ Andrew explains. ‘Outside of the really big corporations, there isn’t really that kind of training mechanism that exists,’ he continues. ‘For me, that is absolutely massive.’
The luxury offering within Yorkshire is such that you could hardly pick a better place for a venture like this. ‘Our competitors are going to make sure that we have to be fantastic,’ laughs Andrew. ‘We’re going to invest a lot of money in the staff training, and everybody else will benefit from us being within the area.’
Having been involved in the project for two years and watched it come together, Andrew is more than ready to welcome the first guests this August. ‘I’m so looking forward to opening,’ he says. ‘I’m just bursting with pride. It’s unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable.’
Grantley Hall, Ripon