Wednesday, 19 October 2011

My first press trip...

So instead of posting a boring blog about my weekend which consisted of going out getting trollied with a bunch of journos; shopping with mother who always insists on calling me 'Zozee' across the floor of Topshop and holding up a hideous blouse for inspection, and lastly getting new glasses that give me an air of intelligence; I have decided to post my review of the best hotel I have ever stayed at. It was my first ever press trip with work back in May, so that meant all expenses paid and being tiptoed around by the hotel staff on the premonition of a bad review. The hotel was the Feversham Arms in Yorkshire and has won many awards, including Hotel of the Year, a coveted 3rd Rosette putting them in the top 10% of restaurants in the UK, and four red stars.

“Rolling countryside, beautiful picture-perfect views, and crayon coloured greenery is exactly what you would expect when visiting the Yorkshire Dales for the first time and it certainly didn't disappoint. Nestled on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors in Ryedale, lies the unspoilt market town of Helmsley. A quaint hub with a timeless appeal, home to picturesque country inns, charming restaurants and restored Victorian cafés, it ticks all the boxes for the perfect country getaway. 

 
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“After a four hour train journey and a half an hour taxi ride, where the driver informed me in his broad Yorkshire accent that 'I was a long way from the city,' my eyes mulled over the delights of The Feversham Arms Hotel & Spa. Looks can be deceiving and that was certainly the case with this hidden treasure. Originally an old coaching inn dating back to 1855, it has since been tastefully expanded, knocking together the surrounding small stone cottages to make-up the hotel grounds, only revealed when you step foot through the doors and all ringed around a courtyard with a paved garden and gleaming heated swimming pool at its centre. If you are thinking of embarking on a two-night break which promises to offer complete rest and revitalisation as well as a host of foodie treats, then this five star establishment could be just the ticket.

“Close to the National Park and the perfect haven for walkers exploring the sheep-scattered moors, the 33-room hotel strives to uphold its unpretentious and cosy feel. Decked out in tweeds and checks, mossy greens and warm russets, the wholesome décor of the hotel blends in with its scenic backdrop. With the beaches of Whitby and Scarborough a mere half an hour away by road, the hotel boasts a prime spot for neighbouring excursions.

“The Feversham not only delivers peace, comfort and first-class service, the hotel also prides itself on captivating the very best of Yorkshire’s home-grown dishes to really tantalise your taste buds.

“After sampling the spa offerings, including the outdoor heated jacuzzi, I was certainly ready to indulge. With a menu filled with delicacies such as ravioli of wild rabbit, foie gras crème brulee and roast loin of Yorkshire venison, there was plenty there to tempt. After three exceptional courses, out rolled the real jewel in the crown - the carefully sourced cheese board, showcasing local gems such as Monks Folly, Swaledale Goats and Bells Bluemin White.

“After a good night sleep you'll be ready for round two, and a full-Yorkshire breakfast is an absolute must. Opting out of the continental teaser and the healthy fish dishes including locally smoked kippers grilled with butter, my plate was made up with eggs, locally cured back bacon, Helmsley pork sausage, mushrooms, grilled tomato and eggy bread (I wasn't brave enough to sample the black pudding), all piping hot and visually pleasing.

“The food is fancy without being fussy, with head chef Simon Kelly using the prime of the local produce to create his culinary delights. The hotel relies on a nearby farming group, Taste Tradition, for all of its rare breed meat offerings, and a visit was on the itinerary for the day.

“Farming on the cusp of the North York moors for over three generations, farmer Charles Ashbridge started Taste Tradition in 2004 with the primary view to produce high quality, great tasting rare-breed meat using traditional methods. “We've found people like the story of where their meat comes from; they love the fact that it is good quality meat, hand-reared on the Yorkshire moors,” says director James Wright.


“After a country jaunt, the hotel provides the perfect pit-stop for a spot of afternoon tea. The Garden Party themed afternoon tea is part of a series of seasonally-inspired fancies matched with the finest Jing teas which can be enjoyed at your leisure by the pool (English weather permitting!). Nobody takes tea more seriously than us Brits, and the offering at The Fev really does our favourite past -time justice. Starting with a selection of sandwiches filled with scrumptious delights such as crab with crème fraiche and coriander, Yorkshire ham with apple chutney, and smoked salmon with horseradish and cucumber, the flavours complement each other beautifully. It doesn't stop with the posh sarnies though - a full three-tier cake stand is adorned with a selection of patisseries including strawberry jelly with elderflower panna cotta, and cherry mousse sponge cake, followed by scones with clotted cream and jam; guaranteed to leave you feeling utterly stuffed and satisfied!

Petit Doubles at The Feversham Arms Hotel & Spa start at £110 pppn, including breakfast and dinner. T: 01439 770 766. For more information visit www.fevershamarmshotel.com

My review is featured in the December issue of Great British Food magazine.

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