Thankfully, The Feversham Arms is no Slaughtered Lamb. Stay on the path, etc…
Don’t tell AA Gill but there are actually many fine hospitality establishments in the North of England. The Feversham Arms, situated in the village of Helmsley, North Yorkshire is one such gem. Once a village inn, now a small hotel, spa and restaurant, it’s been receiving some rave reviews in some highly respected quarters. We took the trip to investigate further.
It’s the kind of establishment where you can safely check your brain in at reception as every possible whim is anticipated and catered for. Original artwork is omnipresent at the Feversham as it doubles up as an art gallery – meaning that returning guests experience a new décor upon each visit. When the inn grew into a hotel, suites were built around what is now the piece de resistance – the heated outdoor pool. It really is an exquisite focal point for this charming little hideaway. It was clearly time for LUSSO to change into skin-tight Speedos.
Entering my suite, the second thing to catch the eye was the skill of the interior designer – tasteful, subtle yet reassuringly stylish. The first was the Champagne bucket, with two half-bottles popping proudly out of the top just waiting for my longing caress. I admired the thought process involved – most guests arrive early afternoon, so consuming a full size bottle might not be conducive to subsequent plans. However, leaving a cold bottle of Champagne unopened is just not cricket. The solution? One half bottle now, one later. Genius.
The conditions for our visit were perfect – a cool, crisp English Autumnal day; all blue skies and rural silence, punctuated only by the caw of a crow and the occasional clip of hooves on nearby tarmac. This is hunting, shooting and fishing territory after all.
So, on to the much applauded and awarded Spa. The pre-spa relaxation area is an airy, sun-filled space, all comfy sofas, antique books and glossy magazines. I instead wallowed in the glorious outdoor hot tub to await my treatment – the intriguingly titled ‘bubbling mud for boys’. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy many excellent massages on my travels around the globe, but this was up there with the best. The Feversham’s Verbena Spa’s many ‘World’s Best Spa’ Awards seem to be justified.
However, receiving massages, quaffing Champagne and relaxing in heated pools is hungry work, so next on the agenda was the 3 AA rosette restaurant. To avoid the foie gras on the Tasting Menu I instead plumped for three course à la carte option. The food is largely locally sourced and the presentation is a delight – although the Feversham certainly subscribes to the high-end restaurant’s view that scarcity increases attractiveness. Some of the portlier diners there looked a little concerned when their dishes landed.
Michel Roux had dined in one of the private dining rooms recently and judging by his comments in the guest book, he’s clearly a fan of the place. The private dining rooms are also the chosen habitat for the hunting set, which frequent often. I’m sure that the regular diners appreciate the fact that the bellowing types are kept separate also.
All in all, the hotel manages to supply a truly convivial and satisfying atmosphere making the outside world seem a very long way away indeed. This hotel is a perfect bolt hole to escape the frantic pace of the city. I plan to regularly cosset myself in this relaxing haven whenever possible.
Feversham Arms & Verbena Spa, Helmsley, North Yorkshire. A stay in a spa suite is £360 including breakfast. www.fevershamarmshotel.com.