* Prices may differ from that shown
Swinton Park Hotel - is this the best hotel in the UK?? I had very little to do a few weeks ago, fiancee and I thought - let's go a blow some cash on a weekend away somewhere nice. So I sat on the internet and plugged in 'castles' and 'Yorkshire' because I figured Yorkshire might be a nice place to go and not too far for me in little old Merseyside. Up popped Swinton Park. I'd never heard of it and neither had the boyfriend so we had a gander about the site which is http://www.swintonpark.com/ for those who are interested. I loved this place - please visit the website and see what I mean, my words do not give it justice. So why is it so special ? Well here we go... Situation, the castle, the grounds As described in the brochure, 'Swinton Park is the ancestral home of the Cunliffe-Lister family and is set in 200 acres of parkland, lakes and gardens. The castle is surrounded by the family estate in which guests have access to rivers, reservoirs, moorland, dales and beautiful countryside bordering the Yorkshire Dales National Park' And this just about wraps it up. The Park was once owned by a large land owning family and they have bought it back and turned it into a hotel. The castle dates back to the 1600's although most of the structure was completed in the 19th Century when it was castellated. It is a stunning building, just staying there makes you feel lord of the manor. This place is wow worthy inside and out. The sitting room, hallways, dinning room, library etc are all full of charming antique furniture, rugs, ornaments and fires to warm you on the coldest of nights. The rooms are large and decorative with all the original Georgan and Victorian ceilings and walls. True magnificence only seen on trips round palaces will greet you on your arrival. It has only just been a hotel for marginally over a year and they have got it so right I tell you. The staff Ever so friendly. A porter met us from the car as we drove up the drive - acute hearing or what! He took our bags and showed us round the hotel before we went up to our rooms. The receptionist was spot on, lovely girl and looked after our needs. You even see the owners pottering around with their dogs and asking you if you are having a nice stay - no plumminess around here. The service was exemplary, they turn your bed in the evening and leave night cream out for the ladies on your pillow. The wonderful dining staff service the food perfectly not getting in the way and making things feel so beautiful and relaxing. I felt like a queen! The food I am sure rewards are beckoning. The menus are superb, for example: Smoked Ham Hock & Black Pudding Terrine, mustard seed dressing goats cheese crousade, red wine soaked pears, baby spinach and butternut squash soup, roast partridge, lavender roast loin of lamb, macadamia nut white chocolate pudding.... to mention but a few mouthwatering samples. They cater for all tastes - jewish, veggie, muslim- just ask in advance - more than happy to oblige. The food is cooked wonderfully and melts in your mouth with an explosion of tastes (Jilly Goolden eat your heart out). The breakfast was huge.. white pudding, black pudding, sausage, egg - fried, poached, scrampled, omlette, mushrooms, tomatoes, toast, croissant, jams, marmalades... I could go on. You want Harrods stock of cornflakes?? Well you only need to ask!! The bedrooms One phrase... large, cosy and commanding. There are 20 bedrooms, some of which are suites. They all have a theme to do with Yorkshire which is quite quaint. Prices are from £100 to £350 per night B&B for two- dinner is thrown in for an extra £25 or so which is super value. The rooms are suites, dukes, earls, counts, barons and knights. We stayed in a count room, there was tv, video, decanter of whiskey, decanter of gin, tea, coffee, writing pads, cd p layer, radio, huge king sized canopeed bed, hairdryer, stunning views of the ground and the court yard, shower and bath, trouser press, iron and all the trimmings. The room was decorated in tasteful repro antiques and much pampering was available (see below for masseurs in your room!!). Great atmosphere to get changed for dinner and do a bit of relaxing of the finest sort! Activities Swinton Park offers a range of activities: A dale experience - a local farmer will pop you in a landrover and take you for cream teas and beer in the local countryside. Bowls, boules and croquet - Yah! Up root the turf with your balls and mallet in these traditional anlglo french games Cricket- Sp can arrange for the local team to come and play if you give them advanced warning (not bad eh?) Falconry- you are welcome to request flying and hunting demonstrations with the local falconer (not my bag but it may be yours) Fishing - Coarse fishing is available on the 5 parkland lakes, fly fishing for salmon, brown trout and rainbow trout. No rod? Well SP are happy to provide you with tackle (oo err missus) Golf - There is a 9 hole golf course (which was mightily busy when we were there at 8 in the morning!) Mark Twain said a long walk spoilt and I tend to agree - but if it is your bag go forth and swing those irons Kiteflying- just borrow one from the hotel and see your kite crash on the ground in the wind! Model boat racing- hire a boat and pop it on one of the lakes for a relaxing tootle round the grounds Mountain biking - now not many mountains round here I must say! Like none!! But if you like country paths and forest trails then this one is for you Off roading- go try not to crash an off roader 4X4 in style at the local course Private cinema - although somewhat tiny you can watch their selection of dvds and videos to your hearts content Riding- bring your horse and they will stable it - no horse?? Then borrow one! There is a 4 mile chaser course with 40 jumps for all standards - Nay! Clay pigeon shooting - a fond favourite of mine - available all year. You can even shoot a bit of the feathered kind too if you wish on prior arrangement Snooker- fancy yourself a bit of a whirlwind? Full sized table for all you wizards with the ball. Spa and beauty treatments - now this is the bit I like, they will come to your room and give you facials, all over body massages and aromatherapy. Or alternatively you can go and sample to jacuzzi downstairs or potter in the gym. Walking and orienteering- Orienteering courses are available or you can enjoy getting lost in the 200 acres of gardens instead by yourself Most of the above is in the price of your room but they will tell you if you ring them in advance what the costs would be for say the 4X4 experience. We only stayed a night and waddled round the brewery tours in the village for our entertainment which you can do off your own bat. The surrounding village & beer The surrounding village is an absolute stunner. A typical Yorkshire small town as you would expect to see in a Herriot novel. Very green with rolling hills, trees, park land and farm land. The village has the usual multiple pubs, antique shop and corner newsagents. Nice atmosphere, nice people. I mix the village up with beer directly as Masham is the home of the Theakstons and Black Sheep brewerys which is amazing as the town is so small. I won't go into the brewerys here as this is about Swinton Park - but this is a bonus of the Park's location for all you beer lovers out there. Try the Black Bull beer - FABULOUS!!The cost This is the stinger for all you students out there- but for those of us with a couple of bob in our back pocket these are the prices: I paid £215 for one night for the two of us. This included newspaper, full english breakfast (which was massive!!), dinner, bed and VAT. The room was a 'Count' room which was mid range. Well worth it I thought for this magical experience~~~~** How do you get in touch? Address: Swinton Park, Masham, Ripon, North Yorkshire HG4 4JH Telephone: 01765 680900 Website: as above Their coat of arms states 'Virtue alone confers nobility' and indeed this place is a noble one indeed.