The Feversham Arms Hotel & Spa in Helmsley - an oasis tucked away in beautiful North Yorkshire
Dipping my toe into the outdoor swimming pool of a North Yorkshire hotel in the middle of October, I felt a surprising feeling of warmth.
The bubbling hot tub nearby was inviting, but on my heated water discovery I was happy to take the plunge, delighted that I had the pool to myself and was able to swim several uninterupted lengths in the pretty terrace surroundings with the brown autumn leaves falling from the trees.
It was a little 'surprise' that set the theme for our one-night stay at the Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa, in Helmsley, which although in the heart of a vibrant market town, still managed to possess a warming 'country lifestyle' vibe.
Arriving early before our afternoon check-in, there was time to stretch our legs and explore the town centre which was just a few minutes' walk from the hotel. Helmsley, a small, but bustling town oozing Yorkshire charm, boasts a mix of shops selling an array of items from jewellery, ceramics and antiques to art, high-end fashion and home accessories.
As usual, my wife and I were more enticed by the delightful smells drifting from the various food shops, predictably giving in to our temptations with lunchtime purchases of freshly-baked sausage rolls along with a quiche and traditional Yorkshire curd tart to take home.
One thing that may surprise is that the Feversham Arms is dog friendly and appears to be one of a growing number of 'upscale' UK hotels happy to welcome our four-legged friends, allowing them to share the joys of staying in a luxurious retreat with their owners.
It was the perfect place to take our newly-adopted greyhound Jojo for her first ever hotel break, who must have thought she was in dreamland after spending her early years on the racetrack while only living in kennels.
Our poolside suite accommodation, one of five independent 'cottages' in the hotel, was ideal for both pooch and owners as it was roomy, close to the hotel entrance and easily accessible for 'pit stops', not to mention its super cosy features, rustic oak beamed decor and spacious poolside terrace, ideal for those who love a morning dip.
It's the added touches that make places like the Feversham so special, such as the available robes and slippers and plush Temple Spa toiletries, making guests feel more like they're in a resort rather than a hotel.
Dinner was a pleasurable experience from the off as we were immediately put at ease when escorted to a 'dog friendly' table in the corner of the lounge with ample room for Jojo to rest without causing a trip hazard for the friendly and efficient Weathervane Restaurant team.
After selecting a bottle of crisp white New Zealand sauvignon from the wine menu, the food that followed exceeded expectations, kicking off with a delightfully smooth butternut squash veloute starter along with the beautifully presented East Coast Mackerel for my wife.
The addition of sourdough bread and butter preceded two mouthwatering, but very different, main courses - Yorkshire Beef with Truffle Pommes Dauphine and Oven Baked North Sea Halibut in a delicious Mussel Broth which, using Gregg Wallace terminology, was like being kissed by the creatures of the ocean.
Desserts were the super-rich Dark Chocolate & Ale Cake with Salted Caramel Ice Cream and Dulche de Leche Tart, both of which were enjoyed with the prying eyes of Jojo from the floor who was happily kept at bay with an on-hand selection of dog treats.
After a blissful night's sleep it was back to 'our' special table the following morning for a hearty breakfast, with choices of a 'Full Yorkshire' and Eggs Royale, along with a sausage for the dog, fuelling the three of us up sufficiently for the journey home.
The Feversham describes itself as a 'Mediterranean oasis tucked away in North Yorkshire', and with its heated pool, beautiful terrace and all the little surprises that go with a stay at this wonderful hotel, they're certainly not wrong.
November prices from £140 for bed and breakfast and from £248 for dinner, bed and breakfast - prices based on two people in a standard double.
The 'Winter Escape' offer is from £220 a room and is for a midweek break from Sunday to Thursday - includes full use of spa facilities, heated pool and glass of fizz, two-course dinner from the a la carte menu and full traditional Yorkshire breakfast. Valid from now until March 31st 2023. Visit the website for more information.