“Pampering retreat near the North York Moors, with a slick spa, excellent restaurant and heated outdoor pool”
Spread higgledy-piggledy across the original building and a cluster of newer additions (built sympathetically from local stone), the 33 rooms offer - almost - 33 different choices. The style is country-contemporary: earthy colours or smudgy Farrow & Ball with chunky carpets, wool throws and cushions, tongue-and-groove panelling and, rather unusually, a teddy bear nestling on each bed. Often there’s an unexpected twist, perhaps a brightly striped headboard, a cherry-red wall, a sexy slate bathroom or a wood-burning stove.
Most rooms have tubs and showers (a couple of the smallest Petite Doubles are shower only) and all have the same little extras: Bang & Olufsen TVs with integrated DVD and CD players, decent fresh flowers (fragrant lilies, in our case), Elemis toiletries, bathrobes and slippers, and scented candles. In general, the more you pay the more ‘wow’ you get. The top-end Spa Suites are generous to a fault, with big bathrooms, elegant sitting rooms, bedrooms done out in soft colours and vintage-style floral wallpapers, and glass-fronted balconies overlooking the pool.
Our favourites were the Deluxe Suites, which also overlook the pool but have a cosier feel; Room 28 has low windows and a glass-panelled ceiling in the sitting area. Or opt for one of the Poolside Suites with their semi-private patios; the best is Room 22, which has a cottagey feel with a wood-burning stove and a dark-walled bedroom. Another favourite is Room 19 (one of the middle-ranking Classic Junior Suites), tucked away on the top floor, whose exposed beams, sloping ceilings and bold reds and greens make it feel wonderfully intimate.
Although not as flash, the Standard Doubles and Executive Doubles are still roomy. They are set in the old building, so they benefit from original features - Room 17 (a Petite Double), for example, has a lovely window seat.
With 2 AA rosettes to its name, the Feversham Arms could be eyeing a Michelin star. The cooking is stylish, the presentation artful but not irksome, and the choice of dishes short but carefully thought-out
Plenty of local sourcing - North Sea fish, Yorkshire game - means the cuisine has clean but interesting flavours. We started dinner with a salad of rare-variety potatoes with sage mayonnaise; simple but tasty. Our main course of thyme-roasted cod was light and moist, while our pudding of Yorkshire rhubarb and ginger cream had me scraping the varnish off the plate. Sadly we had no room left for cheese - the cheese trolley with its 30-odd varieties is a star turn, apparently.
The conservatory-style dining room is both buzzy and intimate, with exposed ironwork and a glass roof. Its cherry-red walls, multi-coloured chair covers and crisp white-clothed tables set with tea lights create a warm, glowing atmosphere. It works equally well at breakfast, when the bright colours kick-start the day. Again, the choice is thoughtful without going overboard: smoothies, fruit compote and make-your-own muesli as a buffet, plus cooked offerings such as Helmsley pork sausages and locally smoked kippers. There’s also a gastropub-style lunch menu available in the lounge or round the pool, and a rather fabulous (though not cheap) afternoon tea.
This is foodie country, so if you want to eat out you’re spoiled for choice. A couple of miles away at Harome is The Star Inn (Michelin-starred until recently) and sister venture The Pheasant. The White Swan at Pickering (12 miles away) is a cut-above-the-rest pub restaurant, while the Feversham’s neighbour, The Black Swan, offers more classic country cooking. For something more modest, try Gepettos, Helmsley’s long-established Italian, or tuck into steaks and pies at The Feathers in the market place.
This isn’t an obvious family hotel - the majority of guests are couples - but children are welcome and the pool is a big draw. Cots, extra beds (for children under 12 only) and children’s menus are available, and the teddy bear in every room will please little ones.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
Cots and/or extra beds can be added to most rooms free of charge. Some of the suites have 2 bedrooms, others can accommodate up to 3 children on a combination of sofabeds and rollaway beds. Extra beds are not suitable for children aged 17 and over.
The hotel can provide a list of recommended babysitters.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Children’s menus are available, with a special high tea served in the restaurant between 5.30pm and 6pm. Note that under 12s aren’t allowed in the restaurant from 8pm onwards.
The pool area has no protection, so keep a close eye on young children. No under 16s are allowed in the spa or the hot tub.