Short stay: Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa Helmsley, North Yorkshire
It had been more than a decade since we’d last stayed at the Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa so I was keen to return and see how this gem of a hotel had evolved since our last visit. Nestled in the picturesque market town of Helmsley on the edge of the North York Moors, we went along to see how this idyllic hideaway – and recently announced as a finalist in the Visit York Tourism Awards for the category of Small Hotel of the Year – had changed.
We arrived at the Feversham Arms Hotel in the late afternoon. Parking outside the entrance is limited but don’t worry – there’s a car park underneath the hotel with ample space, just a short walk from reception. Check-in was swift and within moments of our arrival, we were making our way past the hotel’s heated outdoor pool towards our accommodation.
Last time around we stayed in the main house, but this time we were in room 22, one of Feversham’s poolside suites. As its name implies, this cosy home-from-home suite enjoys a poolside location with an outdoor terrace at its entrance.
Inside there is a comfortable lounge are with laminate wood-effect flooring, a wood burner and tea and coffee making facilities.
On the same floor is a king size bed with plenty of wardrobe hanging space and a private en suite.
A note on the cuddly cow says to leave him outside if you don’t wish to be disturbed.
Upstairs, on a mezzanine level is a twin-bedded room and TV, making these suites perfect for accommodating families.
The bathroom has a bath, vanity unit, WC and separate shower.
British-branded Temple Spa toiletries are supplied – a favourite with a number of UK hotels.
Spa breaks are popular at the Feversham Arms Hotel, and all overnight residents have access to the pool, outdoor jacuzzi and spa heat facilities (saunarium, aromatherapy room, steam room, monsoon shower and foot spas right within the spa). Robes and slippers are supplied.
As well as the spa, the 2 AA rosette Wethervane Restaurant – led by Head Chef Jon Appleby (formerly of Rockcliffe Hall, The Blue Lion at East Witton and Judges at Kirklevington) is a major highlight, and was far better than we remember!
Among the starters was a butternut squash velouté served with the most delicious sage espuma, mini gruyère and pickled onion toastie.
Also look out for the Yorkshire rabbit terrine with some parkin toast and a confit of medjool dates.
Our mains included this mouth-watering rump of Yorkshire lamb served with a tomato fondue, lamb fat potatoes and charred broccoli, served very pink which is just how I like it!
But the stand-out dish from our stay was the oven-baked North Sea halibut presented with a fresh soft herb and lemon crust, garden vegetables and a mussel broth which was just wonderful.
Also worthy of mention is the roast cod-loin served in a chicken butter sauce, with pommes purée, girolle and shaved truffle.
For dessert, we recommend the dark chocolate and ale cake with salted caramel ice cream and a caramel sauce – so good that our younger son chose to have it on both evenings that we dined in the restaurant.
More filling, but utterly delectable if you have a good appetite, is the croissant and marmalade pudding with clotted cream and a Grand Marnier crème anglaise – the most tasty dessert I’ve tried in a while, but I’m sure it’s not good for my waistline!
Breakfast is served in the same restaurant, with options including Eggs Benedict, Royale and Florentine, as well as a full English or lighter options such as the Feversham granola.
The hotel is located just a two-minute walk from Helmsley town centre. This beautiful English market town is set on the edge of the North York Moors National Park. A past winner of Best Market Town in the Great British High Street Awards, Helmsley has a bustling market square, some quality shops, a historic castle and a vibrant walled garden that is well worth a visit.
We took the short walk from Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey, which forms part of the Cleveland Way. It’s around 6 miles there and back, passing through some beautiful woodland.
Unfortunately the abbey – which was founded in 1131 – had just switched to winter opening times so we were unable to go in, but had been before and were still able to admire it from a distance. During the main season, the ruins of this Cistercian abbey are open 7 days a week, from 10am to 4pm. There is also a café on site.
Other nearby attractions include the National Trust’s Nunnington Hall, Castle Howard and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Families will enjoy Flamingo Land Resort and Monk Park Farm.
York is only a 40-minute drive away to the south, and Whitby, Scarborough and Filey on the east coast are all within an hour’s drive.
Other nice touches
We were welcomed with complimentary chocolates and Harrogate Spring Water. And, because we were travelling with our dog, George, we were also supplied with a dog bowl, Feversham blanket and dog biscuit which was a lovely touch.
Bath robes and slippers are another nice little extra for any two-legged guests staying.
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Standard rooms start from £258, to include dinner and breakfast.
Poolside suites start from £428, to include dinner and breakfast.
There is currently an offer for a ‘You and Me Time’ midweek spa package where you can pamper yourselves this winter; this includes a three course meal in the Weathervane restaurant, overnight accommodation including fully cooked Yorkshire breakfast, use of the spa facilities throughout your stay and a 60-minute spa treatment per person. It is priced from £425 – based on double occupancy.
The best bit
The best bit for me was the informality and laid-back nature of the hotel that made for a really relaxing ambience. The spa, combined with a restaurant serving excellent food, makes the Feversham Arms the perfect place to unwind and re-charge, without the formality that you might find in some luxury hotels.
The final verdict
Despite being yards from Helmsley town centre, the elegant Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa enjoys a wonderful country life vibe, living up to its self-appointed reputation as a “Mediterranean oasis tucked away in North Yorkshire”. The hotel offers a truly homely atmosphere and, with the pool and Jacuzzi just yards from our accommodation – and an excellent restaurant to boot – making it perfect for a well-pampered getaway.
Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa.