It’s funny how you just click with some hotels, isn’t it? The Feversham Arms Hotel is one of those places.
It was my second stay at the property – this time en route to Scotland, last time, on the way back – and everything I liked it about it first time round was still fully evident and, in the case of the food, even better than before.
There’s a genuine warmth to the welcome, with a cheery, no nonsense touch of Yorkshire too. We had parked just outside the reception – and not particularly well because sometimes a long drive means a rather desperate need for a toilet. We offer to move it. “Oh, you’re grand” comes the reply. “Get yourselves checked in. Valet parking. We’ll sort it in a second.” And they do.
The hotel is a clever mix of the old and the new. As you enter the bright, open, naturally lit reception on the left is the old – the original building – and to the right, is the new – the modern block housing new rooms and the well-appointed Verbena Spa. Between the two, in the resulting inner courtyard is a very pleasant sun deck, outdoor seating and good sized swimming pool.
There is also a selection of saunas and such like inside, which are recommended as a precursor to the treatments. Whether they make a difference or not I can’t comment, as I suspect the tension in my back and neck – it’s where I carry all my Brexit and Trump stress, basically – would have been worked out by my impressive masseuse whatever my preparation. She might have been tiny but I suspect she never has a problem opening jars…
Rooms are generously proportioned, comfortable and, charmingly, come with a furry companion: either a floppy cow or a floppy sheep, which double as the “Do not disturb” sign. It’s a fun little touch, without being twee, and a further indicator that this is a property with personality.
Varied artworks line the walls, all for sale and by local artists, as you make your way through to dinner. Cocktails are served in their comfortable, moderately appointed bar, and it’s a relaxed space in which to flick through the simple, efficient menu that, like its sister hotel The Black Swan at Helmsley, adds a little refinement to crowd pleasing, gastropub-esque classics.
Fresh, very crusty, still warm bread arrives alongside two quenelles of butter: one plain, the other with a light brown sheen. “It’s Marmite butter” explains our waiter and, as it happens, it’s the thing that shows me – after 50 years of thinking I loathe the stuff – that Marmite is a thing of salty beauty.
What follows is three courses of well-executed cooking, from potted salmon and lobster terrine to rhubarb and strawberry soufflé, via pan-fried hake and a ravioli of local goats cheese (served with a fricassee of summer vegetables, a word that needs to be brought out of retirement more often). There’s an admirably simple approach to the wines too – three sensible, sub-£30 price levels, with three whites, three reds and one rosé at each level. Service is lovely too, all done with knowledge, efficiency and, thanks to the very amusing restaurant manager, considerable wit. When I order the soufflé, he says “It’ll take 15 minutes, is that okay?” I nod, and say absolutely. He looks at my me with mock disdain, and replies, “I didn’t mean you, I meant your wife.” A comic eye-roll is thrown in her direction, before the gaze returns to me. “It’s not all about you, you know…” I apologise now for missing his name, but it appears to have been taken out of commission in my notebook by a drop of good value, crisp Chilean Sauvignon Blanc!
The following morning, breakfast is a similarly entertaining affair. The room is flooded with natural light, comes with a gentle classic soul soundtrack – a Cooke breakfast if you will – and the Eggs Benedict is one of the best I’ve had for a while.
All told, The Feversham Arms is one of the best in the UK at this level and long may it stay that way.
Feversham Arms Hotel