Not all travel has to involve strapping on your hiking boots and hitting the streets, mountains or trails and as frequent travellers, we often have to remind ourselves of that. Our natural instinct is to explore for hours on end to combat the fear of missing out. So when the opportunity to relax comes along, we have to remind ourselves to grasp it and embrace it. Therefore, when we were invited to visit the Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa, which is located on the Bolton Abbey estate in the Yorkshire Dales, it was obviously the perfect opportunity.
After a lovely morning exploring Bolton Abbey and the surrounding area, it was time to check in and we timed it to perfection as the second we parked the car the heavens opened. As we took the bags from the boot they were taken from us. Out of nowhere, a guy dressed in tweed whisked our luggage away and we did not see it again until we were in our room. It was a great start to our stay and it was instantly obvious that nothing was going to be too much trouble and that we were going to be looked after throughout our visit.
Check-in and first impressions
Following check-in, we were given a quick guided tour of the property and yes it looks amazing from the outside, especially as it is set in acres of stunning grounds but it’s not until you get inside that you realise how beautiful and well thought out it is. The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa is a 4-star, multi-award-winning country house affectionately referred to as ‘The Dev’ by its guest, many of whom are regular visitors. With the main part of The Dev built in the early 17th century and an annexe added in the 1980s. Yes, it’s a large hotel but certainly not intimating or imposing, instead, it is homely and welcoming and one that is definitely worthy of exploration.
We were lead to our suite – ‘The Shepherd’ which is a superior room and located on the first floor of the original part of the hotel overlooking the Italian box garden. From the second we walked through the door we knew that we didn’t want to leave. This room oozes sophistication and luxury, plus it is huge, I’d possibly even say palatial. With its four poster bed, something I have not slept in since my wedding evening seven years ago which made our stay feel particularly special, a separate seating area complete with flat screen television with free view channels together with tea and coffee making facilities including real milk (no UHT for me, thank you very much) and the extra treat of fresh parkin, yum.
The Shepherd also has a massive ensuite bathroom with bath and separate shower. Even though the bedroom is traditionally decorated, the bathroom is very high tech including a digital shower and a toilet which is simply the next level, let’s just say – toilet paper is not required(!). The free-standing bath was the highlight for me though. As I very rarely find the time to take a long soak in the tub, I ensured that I allocated the time whilst staying at the Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa and spent a good hour or so relaxing, chilling out and using all of the complimentary Temple Spa toiletries which really added to the perfect getaway.
The Devonshire Spa
Across the road from the hotel, there is a gym and the Devonshire Health Spa which can be used by hotel guests between 2.00pm on the day of arrival until 12.00pm on the day of departure and Mr ESLT and I were certainly going to take advantage of this fantastic facility. We grabbed our swimwear and headed across the road to be greeted warmly, handed a towel, dressing gown and a pair of flip-flops and given a rundown of what to do and what we could use.
We spent a good couple of hours hopping between the swimming pool, hot tub, steam room and sauna and for most of the time we were in the health spa, we had it all to ourselves. Being able to spend the afternoon in such wonderful, and warm surroundings made us forget about the wind and rain that were howling outside, it also added to the chilled out vibe of our stay. My only regret is not booking afternoon tea to eat in the lounge, it would have made the afternoon absolutely perfect.
Pre-dinner drinks and chill out areas
The fact that the Devonshire Arms & Spa is quite large means that there are a lot of seating and chill out areas. I’ll be honest, it took a lot to tear us away from our room as it was just so cosy and homely. However, we decided to get ready for dinner early in order to explore the property further and grab an aperitif.
As the hotel is dog-friendly and dogs are welcome everywhere apart from the dining areas, it was lovely to see a whole area dedicated to our four-legged friends. With dog wallpaper, dog ornaments, dog pictures and even an actual dog (a guest’s dog, not a hotel dog) asleep in front of the crackling open log fire only added to my need to have a pooch of my own. Dogs are that welcome here, there are even little beds in the reception area where you can leave Rover or Fifi and the staff will dogsit for you whilst you have your dinner.
The cocktail lounge, which is open to both hotel guests and non-residents, is lovely, light and airy with big comfortable seats and an extensive menu of cocktails, wines, beers and spirits. We also read that on occasion a pianist tinkles the ivories. Unfortunately, he/she was not there on the evening of our visit but I imagine it creates a lovely ambience for pre or post-dinner drinks. We didn’t get the opportunity to have a drink here, instead, we headed to the brasserie where we had dinner reservations and opted for an aperitif there at a window table overlooking the magnificent grounds.
The Burlington is the Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa’s 3 AA Rosette award-winning restaurant. The Head Chef, Paul Leonard offers modern Britsih menus using some of Yorkshire’s finest ingredients, including those grown in the hotel’s own kitchen garden, reared or caught on the Duke’s estate or produced locally. The restaurant itself looked lovely and very sophisticated and has a strict no jeans/trainers dress code. It is certainly somewhere we would love to try in the future.
Evening meal at the Brasserie
The Brasserie at the Devonshire Arms Hotel and Spa is at the far end of the hotel with its own entrance and car park, making it easy to visit even if you are not a guest staying at the hotel. The brasserie is a bright and light dining area with a vibrant mix of vivid colours it offers a laid-back atmosphere. Even though we visited on a Thursday evening, a lot of the tables were either taken or reserved. With a great sounding menu, deciding what to opt for was tough.
Me – Soup of the Day £5.50 – Creamed broccoli and freshly baked bread
Mr ESLT – A Trio of Wharfedale Pig £9.50 – Glazed belly pork, black pudding, sausage roll & homemade Scotch egg
I am not normally one to choose soup as a starter but as soon as our waitress informed us that the soup of the day was creamed broccoli, I knew straight away I had to have it and I was not disappointed. It was a perfect consistency and tasted delicious and as with all the dishes we ate in the brasserie, the portion was impressive. Mr ESLT had scoped out the menu prior to our stay and had his heart set on the trio of pig and again it did not disappoint. Everything was cooked to perfection, especially the yolk of the egg in the homemade Scotch egg.
Me – Freshly Battered East Coast Haddock £16.95 – chunky chips, mushy peas, lemon
Mr ESLT – Bolton Abbey Farmed Pork Belly £19.00 – chorizo croquette, savoy cabbage
You can take the girl away from the east coast but……..needless to say the east coast haddock jumped out at me straight away. The fish and the chips were both lovely, yet extremely filling and for the first time in a long time, I wasn’t able to clear my plate a testament to the portion size. Mr ESLT didn’t realise until his main course arrived that he had ordered more pig, but he certainly wasn’t complaining, in fact he ate it so slowly because ‘he didn’t ever want it to end’.
Me – Passionfruit Cheesecake £7.50 – mango sorbet
Mr ESLT – Cheeseboard – Wensleydale, Fountains Gold, Smoked Applewood and Bluemin White
Now, dessert is where my heart lies and I’ll be honest I was surprised to not see a chocolate option on the menu, as that is always my go to. Torn between the sticky toffee pudding and the passionfruit cheesecake. After a lot of umming and arring, I opted for the cheesecake and I’m glad I did. It was light and creamy and ever so refreshing, the perfect dessert to finish a perfect meal. Mr ESLT is not at all a sweet dessert person, therefore he opted for cheese and biscuits purely based on the fact he could choose his own cheese as he’s not a fan of blue cheese, which is normally always found on a cheese board.
Fit to burst from what could only be described as a feast, we retired to bed for a lovely, peaceful and undisturbed night’s sleep.
After the amount of food we had eaten the night before, when we first woke we didn’t think that we could stomach breakfast. However, an hour or so later we ventured downstairs to see what was on offer and I’m glad that we did. We were seated in a beautiful conservatory area and even though the rain was hammering at the windows, it is a light space, perfect for a relaxed and leisurely breakfast. With a variety of cooked options available including smoked salmon, avocado toast and numerous egg dishes we opted for a full English each. Served with lashings of tea and fruit juice I would have kicked myself if I had missed out on this. It was a great start to the day and set us up for the journey home. There was also a continental breakfast buffet on offer with cereals, meats, cheeses and pastries and I must admit greed over need took over and I indulged in a light fluffy and still warm pain au chocolat.
We had a lovely stay at the Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa and it was everything that we hoped it would be. It is easy to see why people return regularly. It was also lovely to see one of the large rooms being set up ready for a wedding, it really is a beautiful place and a great choice of place to celebrate your nuptials. Unfortunately for the couple getting married that day it was raining cats and dogs meaning they probably would not have got many exterior shots which is a shame as it is a beautiful building. It also meant that we were unable to spend that much time outside, which again was a shame, but the hotel itself had enough to keep us entertained throughout our stay. In fact what I wouldn’t give to be back in the health spa right now!
Great food, gorgeous suite, friendly and helpful staff and a welcoming cosy atmosphere, this hotel was perfect for a chilled out, get away from it all stay and we left feeling completely refreshed and relaxed.
- We were invited to stay at the Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa on a complimentary basis in exchange for review. All opinions, as always, are ours and honest.