The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa, Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire.
After a hectic festive period, my friend and I decided to unwind with a short break at the Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa. This luxurious, country house hotel has been a landmark of the village of Bolton Abbey since the early 17th century. The former coaching inn came into the ownership of the 4th Duke of Devonshire in 1753 as part of the Bolton Abbey estate. Over the years the hotel has been further developed and underwent a major refurbishment under the supervision of Her Grace the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire with many of her personal touches and artwork still in existence today.
The hotel is located in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, just off the A59 between Skipton and Harrogate. The nearest railway stations are situated at Skipton and Ilkley, both around 7 miles away and link to the national rail network.
Arrival and Check-in
The hotel is approached by a sweeping drive and has a large car park. As soon as we had parked our car, Andrew the concierge came out to greet us, smartly attired in country tweeds creating an excellent first impression of the hotel. He took our overnight bags out of the car boot and carried them for us into the elegant yet homely hotel lobby.
This entrance area had a stone flagged floor with a cheerful log fire burning in one corner. The antique furnishings and large oak reception desk created a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. One of the friendly receptionists quickly checked us in and then Andrew took us to our room and placed our bags on the rack provided. Guests are supplied with a complimentary parking permit which can be used in all of the Bolton Abbey estate’s car parks for the duration of their stay, making it easy to explore the stunning Yorkshire Dales National Park countryside and enjoy some riverside walks.
We stayed in a deluxe room located on the ground floor which was of a good size and had splendid views from its windows across the country estate. The bed was extremely comfortable with crisp white bed linen and it was nice to discover that a turn down service had been provided whilst we were eating dinner. The room was tastefully decorated with high quality furnishings and came equipped with luxury toiletries, fluffy white dressing gowns and matching slippers.
On a side table we found a Nespresso coffee maker and kettle supplied with plentiful supplies of tea and coffee to suit all tastes. I liked the idea of a jug of fresh milk being left for us in the fridge, so much better than those fiddly little containers that are commonplace nowadays.
The Devonshire really know how to keep their guests happy as on the tea tray there were two thick slices of delicious Yorkshire parkin. This is northern England’s answer to gingerbread the only difference being that its made using oats. Lifting the lid of a dainty china dish we also discovered even more treats, some homemade cookies which melted in the mouth and were incredibly moorish. Just in case we had pangs of hunger during the night, there was also a small wooden hamper on one of the bedside tables filled with a selection of Yorkshire delicacies.
Lunch in the Devonshire Brasserie
The Brasserie has a contemporary feel with wooden floors and vibrant, striped furnishings. We enjoyed lunch there and were shown to a window table overlooking the estate. Just as we were studying the menu a helicopter touched down on the lawn, delivering guests to the hotel for lunch making us just a little envious of their mode of transport.
The Brasserie menu had lots to tempt us and after much deliberation I finally settled on the Devonshire Fish Pie which was filled with luscious king prawns, salmon, cod and smoked haddock and topped with creamy mashed potato. It was delicious comfort food and just perfect for a cold, winter’s day.
I couldn’t resist one of the tempting deserts and was once again spoilt for choice with my Trio of Lemon comprising baked lemon cream, lemon parfait and lemon cake served with a refreshing raspberry sorbet.
Dinner in the Burlington Restaurant
Paul Leonard is one of the UK’s most talented chefs and we were thrilled to have the opportunity of sampling his 9 course seasonal tasting menu. The Burlington fine dining restaurant has been awarded four AA Rosettes. The chefs pride themselves in using some of Yorkshire’s finest ingredients with meat and fish reared or caught on the Duke of Devonshire’s estate. After enjoying pre-dinner drinks and delicious canapés in the hotel’s cocktail lounge we selected a bottle of wine from the extensive wine list and were shown to our corner table in the elegant restaurant.
Despite the restaurant’s formality, we received a warm and friendly welcome from the waiting staff helping to create a relaxed atmosphere for this very special dining experience. As each of the courses were brought to the table the knowledgeable waiters and waitresses described each dish and were more than happy to answer any questions we might have, especially concerning the heritage carrot.
One might think that a nine course meal would be over-facing but the portion sizes were of just the right size for us to be able to enjoy each course comfortably. The combination of flavours and textures were sublime and coupled with the beautiful presentation we were both in food heaven.
We rounded off the evening relaxing on squashy sofas in one of the hotel’s cosy lounges which oozed country house charm. We chatted to some of the other guests whilst sipping coffee and were unable to resist the petit fours that accompanied our cafetière.
Breakfast in the Conservatory
The hotel’s conservatory was bathed in winter sunshine as we settled down to a delicious Yorkshire breakfast. We started the day with home made yoghurt, fresh fruit and some wedges of Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese before selecting traditional cooked breakfasts from the menu. We then lingered awhile reading the morning newspapers over cappuccinos and nibbling thickly sliced toast and marmalade.
Returning to our room we realised that we had left the key on the table but before we had time to return to the restaurant for it, one of the waitresses appeared with it in her hand. This confirmed the unobtrusive yet dedicated service of the hotel staff who all went the extra mile to tend to the needs of guests.
The Devonshire Spa is housed in an ancient barn just a few steps from the hotel and is complimentary for hotel guests.
On arrival we were equipped with fluffy aubergine dressing gowns, matching towels and flip-flops. Changing rooms were on the upper floor and with digital lockers there was thankfully no need to search through our purses for an elusive £1 coin. The spa has four therapy rooms, a good sized indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and gym with a range of massages and treatments available. We made good use of the spa’s facilities on each of the days, enjoying dips in the lovely warm pool, chatting with other guests whilst relaxing in the jacuzzi and glancing at the latest glossy magazines on the sun loungers surrounding the pool.
Adjacent to the spa are the hotel’s vegetable gardens and Andrew the concierge was more than happy to show guests around the tiered sections pointing out the plentiful supply of seasonal produce growing for the hotel’s kitchens.
The hotel is pet friendly and offers a pet-concierge service for guests whilst they are dining in the Brasserie or the Burlington restaurants. The two dogs who were making use of the lobby facilities both looked very content and comfortable on their thick mattresses and were very well behaved.
Our stay at the Devonshire Arms was totally relaxing being nestled in the tranquil beauty of the Yorkshire dales. The hotel has succeeded in combining the charm of a country house with the facilities of a luxury hotel. We felt that all the staff we came into contact with provided impeccable service and met the needs of guests in a friendly, courteous way. The dining experience in the informal Brasserie was first rate and I don’t believe I have eaten anything to compare with the Burlington’s nine course tasting menu – and I doubt it will be be too long before a Michelin star is awarded to their head chef Paul Leonard.
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I would like to thank the The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa for kindly inviting us to review one of their winter breaks. Although accommodation and meals were provided on a complimentary basis, all views and opinions are entirely my own.