Looking for a relaxing escape without having to hop on a plane?
We may have found the perfect antidote to busy working weeks and hectic city life. Swinton Park Hotel and Country Club and Spa, nestled in the rolling Yorkshire dales has everything you could want from a UK mini break – peace and quiet, an 18th century castle to hole up in, the very best culinary offerings and a gleaming new state of the art spa – and if an active weekend is more your idea of re-energising there’s plenty of out of the ordinary outdoor activities to keep you entertained.
As you drive up the long driveway towards the castle-like Swinton Park Hotel, one might feel slightly intimidated by its grandeur. Those inhibitions soon slip away as you are welcomed by a pot of tea and roaring fire in high-ceilinged rooms filled with the warmth of a traditional English house.
The bedrooms are large and characterful in a world of cookie cutter modern hotels, with cloud like beds and roll top baths. Wander the halls imagining the history that once filled the lovely house. Take breakfast fit for a king in the dining room and later, relax with more tea (or a G&T) and a board game or newspaper in one of the impressive baroque drawing rooms.
The grounds, however, are the real draw of the place – the hotel sits on a 20,000 acre estate which you are free to roam. Take a brisk afternoon walk, making sure to pass the large falconry (sure to impress the kids), and look out for the many deer that wander the grounds as you start to feel a sense of being far away from the grind.
Also on offer is shooting, fishing, pony trekking and a cookery school but if you’d like to go a little further afield, or rent one of the hotel’s bikes and take off at your own leisure to explore the stunning surroundings. We particularly recommend a scenic 20 minute cycle to the estate’s Bivouac to see the Druids Temple followed by a hot chocolate and lunch or slice of fresh homemade cake at the cafe to set you up for the ride back (or be really indulgent and call for the hotel’s 4×4 to come and collect you – it is a holiday after all).
If it’s a total switch off and refresh you’re in need of, look no further than the brand new Swinton Country Club and Spa attached to the hotel which guests have full access to (separate spa days are also available independent of a stay). While away the hours using the state of the art facilities including beautiful indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, heat rooms, gym (with classes) and plenty of cushiony corners to curl up and read a book in between treatments. We’d recommend the Bamford de-stress massage, a lovely top-to-toe experience – be sure to extend the relaxation by taking a moment in the quiet water bed rooms with a herbal tea afterwards.
Swinton Park Hotel has its own excellent restaurant, Samuel’s, for a traditional fine dining experience. However, it’s The Terrace Restaurant and Bar, which sits under the same roof as the brand new Spa, which is really something to shout about. Although seemingly unassuming in appearance – which only adds to the soothing atmosphere – the food served during dinner is up there with some of the best we’ve tried, beating many a well-respected London restaurant. Focusing on a seasonal menu using ingredients fresh from the estate, especially fruit, herbs, and vegetables grown in the neighbouring walled garden, the selection of small plates, perfect for sharing, blew us away with inventive flavour combinations and impeccable presentation. The friendly team of highly qualified chefs seemed unfazed by us peering into the open kitchen – ask for a seat at the bar if you’re into your food and take advice on their recommendations – and if visiting in the summer the outside terrace overlooking the gardens (with blankets provided – we are still in England remember) is rather inviting for a night cap.
Words by Emily Dawes
Overnight spa breaks start from £405 for two people sharing a double room. Day spa rates from £155 for one person and £250 for two people. spa.swintonestate.com