Hotel Review: Middleton Lodge, North Yorkshire
Nestled between the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales, and along a grand tree-lined driveway, stands the lovingly-restored Georgian estate of Middleton Lodge. Originally built in 1780, the historic 200-acre property has returned to its self-sustaining roots, adapted for today’s demanding luxury customer.
Taking an estate-to-plate approach, much of the fruit and vegetables are grown on site – the Elizabethan-style two-acre walled kitchen garden has been fully restored, while orchards of apple, fig and peach trees are thriving. A nearby bee colony has also been nurtured, and the hotel employs a range of sustainable energy sources as well as recruiting its workforce predominantly from the local area.
The centerpiece of the hotel is the Coach House, which encompasses a bar, snug, restaurant and spa, built around a lavender and apple tree filled courtyard. Nature-lovers are in for a treat, from the gardens of the majestic Georgian Palladian mansion (which remains the residence of the owners and a popular wedding venue), to the surrounding woodland (you can even jump on a bike provided by the hotel to explore).
There are 45 bedrooms dotted around, and guests can stay in anything from potting sheds to stone barns, haylofts to shepherd’s huts. The rooms are characterful, calming and tastefully designed, with unique antique touches, stylish wood panelling, beamed roofs and contemporary textiles, as well as a smattering of cosy log-burning stoves. Bathing is also big at Middleton Lodge with freestanding roll top baths aplenty, (perhaps the most resplendent being the huge copper one in the Dairy), and bathrooms are well-stocked with Noble Isle rhubarb-scented toiletries. There are also forest-flanked outdoor hot tubs in the Dairy rooms if you really want that off-grid experience.
After a comfortable night, it’s time for a delicious breakfast in the Coach House, with a buffet of pastries, homemade jam, cereals followed by eggs-to-order and delicious pancakes.
It may be only a matter of weeks since the Forge restaurant reopened on the estate, but it is fast gaining a reputation for being one of the best culinary experiences in the county. The inventive, ingenious nine-course tasting menu is extraordinary. Celebrating local produce, it brings the colours and flavours of the incredible Yorkshire landscape straight to your plate.
Working alongside head gardener Andrew Webb, chef Jake Jones (formerly of the Michelin-starred L’Enclume) has created a culinary journey that you will never want to end. The refined menu – there are also optional wine pairings created in collaboration with Edd Simpson, founder of Barrique Fine Wines – is breathtaking. But it all starts before you even reach the restaurant: a trail of sparkling lights guides guests to a stone courtyard with a roaring brazier. First, you can have a pre-dinner drink in the elegant lounge, while the restaurant itself is warm and welcoming, with the flicker of candlelight and the glow of an open fire.
Each dish is intricate and beautifully executed. Highlights include the Raw Chalk Stream Trout, with Blackcurrant and Toasted Quinoa and Caviar, the mouthwatering Jorvik Blonde Bread with Old Winchester Custard Berry Vinegar and Shiitake and the Forced Yorkshire. With a land-to-larder ethos, each course tells a story of Yorkshire and evokes the senses. Surely a Michelin star awaits…
Wellies are a prerequisite for most activities in and around the hotel – thankfully, there is a pair on hand for every guest. And there is a lot to explore, starting with the picture-perfect parkland. You can also take a walk along the old railway line on the river Swale to Easby Abbey, or visit the local market town of Richmond with its antique shops and one of the best-preserved Norman castles in the country.
Middleton Lodge is a gateway to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and its stunning scenery. But if you prefer to kick off your boots, tucked away in a corner of the Coach House, The Treatment Rooms are the perfect way to really embrace a slower pace, reset and take time out. The spa offers a range of bespoke treatments including unique rituals, massages and facials using sustainable brands such as Aromatherapy Associates, Kiss The Moon and Voya. It’s a tranquil haven to retreat to, and after your treatment you can curl up on the sofa in the lounge with a good book and a cup of green tea – though it is hard not to be tempted by the stylish shop next door where you can bring a little taste of contemporary country style home.
THE FINAL WORD
For an affordable staycation with an exceptional dining experience, Middleton Lodge is one UK destination you cannot afford to miss.
Rooms from £235. The new Forge package starts from £400 per night including dinner at Forge and an overnight stay in the Main House for two people from Thursday to Sunday. To book, call +44 1325 377977, email [email protected] or visit middletonlodge.co.uk
Featured image: the Main House Middleton Lodge, image by Rebecca Allison.