Great British Boltholes: Feversham Arms Hotel, Helmsley, North Yorkshire

Suzy Palmer banishes the winter blues at a chic country hotel with a high class spa

Suzy Palmer banishes the winter blues at a chic country hotel with a high class spa

Why go? Given that Yorkshire has been ranked the third best region in the world in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2014 hot-list (only beaten by Sikkim in India and The Kimberley in Australia, in case you’re wondering), how mad would it be not to visit given that we don’t even have to get on a plane? Set in the ridiculously picturesque market town of Helmsley, in the equally scenic North Yorkshire Moors, the Feversham Arms Hotel is perfect for a winter break that mixes top-notch relaxation with walks and sightseeing in the surrounding countryside. 

Best for: Country lovers who enjoy bracing walks, fine dining and pampering spa sessions.

Warm waters: relax in the heated outdoor pool at the Verbena Spa

The look: A former coaching inn, the Feversham Arms is in the heart of town and has been deftly re-tuned for the 21st century traveller. There are 33 bedrooms, of which 22 are suites, and all have Bang & Olufsen TVs and comfy beds with Egyptian cotton sheets. Carpets, throws and cushions come in Ralph Lauren-style checks while the walls are lined with artworks (all of which are for sale) from the Helmsley Galleries (helmsleygalleries.co.uk). Our poolside suite has views across the courtyard to the wooded hills beyond town, while the bathroom is big enough to hold a party in with lemon-scented beauty products from luxury French skincare line Anne Sémonin.

I’m hungry: Book a table for dinner in the restaurant and you can enjoy dishes such as roast crown of partridge with foie gras and sea bass with wild mushrooms, greens and hand-rolled macaroni (both £28). It’s also hard to resist afternoon tea in the library which comes with scrumptious scones with a choice of fresh or lemon cream, homemade parkin (spicy ginger cake) and banana bread. For a change of scene, decamp to the Tearoom at the Black Swan Hotel (blackswan-helmsley.co.uk) for a lunch of fish and chips (£12.50) or local Wensleydale cheese with homemade pickle (£8.50). If you want to pack a picnic for a walk, pop into Thomas the Baker (thomasthebaker.co.uk) in Market Place and stock up on fantastic sandwiches, pies, quiches and good old sausage rolls.

Smart set: a suite at the Feversham Arms Hotel

While you’re there: Don’t do anything until you’ve tried the hotel’s signature 90 minute Elemis Face and Body Bliss treatment (£85). The body scrub, hot stone massage and radiant facial is a brilliant way to ensure you leave all your worries behind so you can enjoy ‘being in the moment’ throughout your stay. An early morning swim in the heated outdoor pool on a crisp, cold winter’s day is another ‘isn’t life wonderful?’ moment – and the perfect excuse for an extra large full Yorkshire breakfast. The hotel’s Verbena Spa (verbenaspa.co.uk) also includes an ice cave, aromatherapy room and saunarium.

Further afield, there’s a market in the main square every Friday, and all the rooms come with a handy guide to local walks – try the six mile round-trip to Riveaulx Abbey (english-heritage.org.uk) which takes in some beautiful hills and countryside. York is less than an hour’s drive away, and there are plenty of other interesting historical landmarks too, from the town’s own Helmsley Castle (englishheritage.org.uk) to nearby Castle Howard (castlehoward.co.uk) and Duncombe Park (duncombepark.com).

Winter woollies: sheep rule the road in rural Yorkshire  © Welcome to Yorkshire

Dress code: This is hunting, shooting, walking country so fashionistas can take a break. Pack puffas, waterproofs and sturdy boots for the day, and dress-down chic for the evening – the restaurant is smart, so you’ll want to be too.

Book now: Feversham Arms Hotel and Verbena Spa, Helmsley, North Yorkshire YO62 5AG
(01439 770 766; fevershamarmshotel.com). Double rooms with breakfast cost from £120, or see the website for special offers. Wifi is complimentary. A taxi from Malton rail station takes 30 minutes and costs around £30.

Info: Castle Howard played a starring role in Brideshead Revisited while Goathland Station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (nymr.co.uk) featured in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Swot up with The Rough Guide to Yorkshire (£12.99; Rough Guides) and a look at visityorkshire.com and yorkshire.com.

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