The Feversham Arms, North Yorkshire
For a second, I thought I was in France. Not that Hemsley in Yorkshire has anything to masquerade as, being one of the most beautiful parts, in my opinion, of the British Isles. But because of the deliciously French vibe that the Feversham Arms Hotel and Spa radiates as soon as you feast your eyes on the pale sage coloured buildings and the clusters of magnificant lilac lavender bushes. The winding narrow streets and the dewy hills leading up to Helmsley only added to the romantic notion of a secret French hideaway in Provence. The manager, as if to play up to the theme, also spoke with a heavy french lilt. Then it all got very English indeed. Afternoon tea was served outside on the terrace with a swimming pool that looked as if they had borrowed the water from St Barts. Granted, it helped that the sun was shining for a change, but the effect was stunning. Rolled sandwiches filled with honey roast ham and caramelised onions, shredded crab with roast pepper and salmon with lemon mayonaise were served elegantly as only the British can do. The pastries were an unusual mix with creative deserts to bring surprise to the most jaded of palettes. At £21 each, it’s the not the most reasonable afternoon tea i’ve ever encountered, but considering the hotel charges £260 for a petite double room (it does include a £45 allowance towards dinner and a hearty English Breakfast. £180 without dinner), it is the savviest way to enjoy the surroundings. The rooms, however, do look beautiful and some have private hot tubs to while away the hours before heading to the highly regarded Verbena Spa. For English charm with a european twist, The Feversham Arms is a wise choice.
NB. It took just over an hour to drive from Leeds. Heavy traffic around the York/Malton roundabout on a weekend if coming from the Leeds direction. Parking is free at the hotel.