On a beautiful, 200-acre estate in North Yorkshire, Middleton Lodge is a truly special place. Now a country house hotel, the newly renovated buildings benefit from being originally designed by renowned architect John Carr, and include the Georgian manor house, a six-bedroom farmhouse, the many outbuildings which are now quirky suites and rooms, the coach house and a working walled garden. The elegant 18th century designs have undergone an overhaul which shows real empathy and no small amount of style by the estate’s current custodians, the Allison family.
The recipe for success here is fairly simple: do everything well. It’s a labour of love for owners James and Becky, who have personally overseen the estate’s transformation into what must be one of the prettiest and most picturesque destination hotels in the north of England.
At the centre of the estate is the Coach House, where you find the reception, the treatment rooms, the chilled-out Coach House Restaurant, and nine cosy bedrooms. We, however, are staying in The Dairy, a short stroll across the grounds. Our suite is vast; there’s a sitting area with a log burner, a raised sleeping area with super-king sized bed, an ensuite with a walk-in shower and perhaps the piece de resistance, a round copper bath big enough for two. The decor is suitably pale and soothing, more rustic French than Yorkshire farm perhaps, and there’s every mod con you would expect. We even have our own little patio to enjoy the sunshine, although as it’s January, sadly that is somewhat in short supply, (the staff here are great, but not even they can conjure up sunshine on a rainy day).
The staff are, in fact, a massive plus here. From the friendly bar staff (we headed there to celebrate the end of a busy week), to the knowledgeable sommelier who kept us entertained and informed over our unbelievably delicious 10-course tasting menu, (more of which follows), and the welcome we received at breakfast to the friendly therapists who delivered an expert facial and massage. Every single one of them clearly enjoys working at Middleton Lodge.
The Forge restaurant is a relatively new addition here. The domain of chef Gareth Rayner, it serves modern British dishes, mixing local ingredients, including produce from the estate, with innovative techniques. It’s something quite special. And while 10 courses may sound overwhelming – fear not – what it provides is a delicious culinary journey, artfully presented – a sort of story-telling in food not words.
Breakfast is taken in the Coach House restaurant. It’s a great laid-back space, with a delicious breakfast buffet laid out for guests with an interesting specials hot menu to accompany. It’s not just about the full Yorkshire here – we tried squashed sweet potato and chilli with poached eggs on sourdough – delicious. All washed down with copious amounts of really good coffee.
There’s plenty to do here too. Pick up a guide (and some wellies) at reception for the woodland walk, grab one of the estate’s bikes to venture a little further, or simply explore on foot. Equidistant between the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales National Park there’s lots on the doorstep too – if you can tear yourself away from this little idyll, that is.
Middleton Lodge is a delight. You don’t have to be in love to go there… but as a Valentine destination goes, it’s hard to beat!