Hotel Review: Middlethorpe Hall, York in Yorkshire
A history of over 300 years greets you at York’s super smart Middlethorpe Hall, a hotel, spa and restaurant well worth my seven hour trip!
From the depths of Devon I travelled on a prompt CrossCountry train taking in the scenery from my large seat along the way. My first trip to York saw me taking in as much of the local culture as possible while doing my best to relax and consume fab food and wines at Middlethorpe Hall.
My room for my stay was beautifully decorated in a classic style that reflected throughout the hotel. Floral fabrics and fresh flowers brought the outdoors in and large bay windows looked out onto the flat gardens, which held a majestic tree. A large dark wood four poster bed matched a wardrobe, chest of drawers and side tables, while a beige sofa and window seats offered a comfortable place to rest. The room, with its gentle light blue/green and gold etched walls was a nice place to be with the bed accentuating the comfort factor a lot! I would describe it as quintessentially British, elegant, colourful and full of character.
The William and Mary country house has seen much careful renovation over the years. Decorated in 18th century style and furnished with antiques and paintings, the hotel reflects its long history, being built in 1699 for Thomas Barlow, a master cutler from Sheffield. Middlethorpe has been used as a nightclub and girl’s boarding school and in the early 80s was acquired by Historic House Hotels and restored to former glory, opening in ’84 as a luxury hotel, restaurant and spa. In 2008 it became a National Trust property and is also a Pride of Britain hotel. A large oak staircase and chequered marble floor in the hallway and panelled dining rooms are some of the features showcasing the charming style of the era.
Nick and I sampled a drink in the lounge before dinner and felt very chilled in the soft yellow and gold accented room, which was brimming with decorative lamps, huge gold framed portraits, dark wood furniture and plenty of sofas and armchairs in patterned fabrics.
Dinner was delicious and we felt that more than 2AA rosettes were deserved here. Ashley Binder joined in 2008 and worked his way to head chef, he offers traditional cuisine with modern elements and well balanced and flavoured food with interesting flavour combinations. We opted for the seven course tasting menu, which was delightful. Some tasty canapés set the scene for the meal before we moved through to the sumptuous dining room with ornate panelling and a black and marble fireplace keeping us warm (us Devon folk can’t handle these sorts of November Yorkshire temperatures!)
Course one was a watercress veloute with salmon, wasabi and lemon crème fraiche. The soup was poured at the table and offered a great variety of earthy flavours and chunky textures in addition to the smooth liquid. Course two of Jerusalem artichoke panna cotta with pickled shimeji mushrooms, goat’s curd and autumn truffle was beautifully presented and a very accomplished dish. The flavour pairings and combination of textures was superb; it was well balanced and a perfect autumnal dish.
Course three of breast of home smoked duck, sauerkraut, quince, duck liver and sauternes jelly was delicious, rich and smoky with crispy and smooth textures. It looked delectable and tasted just as good. Course four was a Champagne and lavender sorbet with blackberry granite, with all elements OK on their own but lovely together.
Course five was a top-quality piece of roasted loin of venison with honey parsnip, creamed potatoes, blackberries and a haggis bon bon. The rich, crispy haggis mixed well with the buttery mash making this a moreish plate of food.
Next up was a passion fruit mousse and sorbet with a coconut mousse and coriander. This tropical flavoured dish had a lot of sharp, sherberty passion fruit sorbet and a lovely crumb to add a differing texture. It was nice but these aren’t my favourite flavours so Nick finished the sorbet for me! Finally, we were treated to chocolate, beer and malt, consisting of Old Peculiar ice-cream, malted mousse and beer cake. The chocolate mousse was perfection, the dense cake was OK and I didn’t mind the beer ice cream but a lady on another table wasn’t sure and neither was Nick, likening the taste to a ‘stale pint.’
Overall, the menu was perfectly suited to the season with each dish being presented artfully and containing a great mix of texture and thoughtful flavour pairings. The waiting staff were smartly dressed and very polite but some plonked our food down with no explanation of the detail on each dish, though when asked they knew. A very enjoyable evening was experienced by us both.
We enjoyed a breakfast of Full English (Nick) and pancakes, lemon and maple syrup (me) in another dining room, which had the same style as the other with light brown and beige patterned wallpaper instead of wood panelling, large windows and a carpeted floor.
We made full use of the spa during our stay, which included a swim in the pool and visits to the whirlpool spa bath, beautifully scented steam room and the gym. I was also treated to a 25 minute express facial with Sammy, who I’m sure was intent on putting me to sleep! She used the luxurious Decleor products and gave me some great skincare advice.
If relaxing in the spa is too chilled for you there are plenty of places to go and things to see in York. Armed with our Visit York pass we were thoroughly entertained at The York Dungeon before being taken on a tour of the creation of chocolate at York’s Chocolate Story. Beautiful buildings and shops galore welcome you in the city centre, which is surrounded by iconic city walls. There was so much left to do we’re already planning our next visit.
As mentioned our long journey was made far more at ease with a seat on a CrossCountry train. Driving wouldn’t have been a favourable option and this took the pressure off greatly. All staff members we encountered on board were friendly and it was the best way to travel by far!
In a nutshell
All in all a trip to Middlethorpe Hall was a relaxing one for us. The peaceful and pretty landscaped gardens elevated the well looked after building nicely, which held a certain charm and character within. The staff were so helpful and welcoming and it is worth visiting for the food alone.
Address: Bishopthorpe Rd, York YO23 2GB
Phone: 01904 641241