Home TravelEurope A Wonderful Yorkshire welcome at Middlethorpe Hall

A Wonderful Yorkshire welcome at Middlethorpe Hall

by Laurel Waldron
Middlethorpe Hall

A weekend trip to York is always a good idea, but with long spring Bank Holidays and an excuse for a three-day weekend break, there’s no time like the present.

A cosy escape minutes from York

Perched just outside the city centre lies Middlethorpe Hall, a luxury hotel, spa and restaurant whose home is a beautiful William and Mary country house built at the turn of the 18th century; trust us, the imposing red brick, limestone dressing and wrought iron gates will have you living out all of your Bridgerton dreams.

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It was built for Thomas Barlow, a prosperous master cutler who bought the Middlethorpe estate in 1698 as a bid to establish himself as a country gentleman, and over the years has seen plenty of high-profile residents. The property’s design was influenced indirectly by the architecture of Sir Christopher Wren, especially his Hampton Court of the 1690s with its horizontal skyline and pattern of red brick, white sash windows and stone quoins and window surrounds; all features taken up at Middlethorpe. A member of Historic House Hotels, it became property of the National Trust in 2008, with all profits donating the charity.

Stepping through the front door you’re instantly greeted with a warming log fire and a somewhat regal entrance hall.; you can tell in a moment you probably won’t want to leave in a hurry. Middlethorpe Hall has been beautifully and painstakingly restored to create an authentic country house hotel, with details and design meeting historically accurate standards; its delicate furniture, antiques and fine paintings create the look and ambience of a private manor house and as such guests feel instantly at home.

Feeling like the Lady of the Manor at Middlethorpe Hall

The manor is home to 10 rooms and suites, along with 19 more in the adjacent 18th-century courtyard, a charming addition to the main house. For those who prefer a sleek and modern hotel, walk away now. Rooms are comforting, and cosy, with richly patterned wallpapers and chintzy fabrics, four poster beds and plush armchairs.

With views of the 20 acres of gardens; we defy you not to pretend you’re the Lord or Lady of the Manor when faced with such a proposition. It’s just beautiful. We stayed in one of the Courtyard Suites; just outside of the main house with its own lounge, writing desk and mini kitchenette. It was giving very Laura Ashley vibes with the decor, a not-unwelcome addition.

Time for tea at Middlethorpe Hall

The food at Middlethorpe Hall is something to shout about. Ensure you time your visit to enjoy an afternoon tea, taken in the drawing room with its stacks of books and magazines, it’s a plethora of sweet and savoury treats fresh from the kitchen. The sausage roll in particular was something else.

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Breakfast and dinner are served in the main dining room overlooking the gardens, with a brilliantly hearty Yorkshire breakfast just one of the delicious a la carte options. Dinner is a regularly changing two or three-course menu of inventive yet classic seasonal fare using local ingredients; we enjoyed delicious homemade ravioli, roast duck and a devilish delicious pudding. You certainly won’t go hungry with a weekend at Middlethorpe Hall, but there is the backup of a room service menu as well, just in case.

Slip off to the spa

Across the road from the front door, in two listed Edwardian cottages in their own secluded garden, lies the health and fitness spa. With a swimming pool, sauna and gym, it might be small compared to some but has everything needed for swift postprandial relaxation. With a range of Aromatherapy Associates treatments as well, guests can indulge and unwind.

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Cottage gardening on a grand scale

Of course one of the real joys of Middlethorpe Hall is its gardens, a good reason to visit and embrace the joys of spring. The gardens have been extensively restored and replanted since the property was acquired in 1980 with many trees, including a Cedar al Lebanon on the main lawn, a mature Red Oak in the Spring Garden, and a Turkey Oak, all remaining from its original incarnation.

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The walled kitchen garden is nothing sort of enchanting – this is your call to sit in the sun and get lost in a book for a few hours. Not only is it home to a beautiful display of flowering shrubs, roses and lavender, but fragrant herbaceous borders and fruit trees, all of which are utilised by the kitchen. The piece de resistance however is the 17th-century brick dovecote, rescued from dereliction in 1980 and now used as a wine cellar.

While admittedly our visit during the chilly days of winter led to cosy times curled up in front of the fire, this is a property that will come into its own once the sun begins to shine again. Just a 10 minutes drive outside of York centre (or a brisk 40-ish minute walk) it’s the perfect spot for exploring the Viking city with the freedom and fresh air of the countryside.

Middlethorpe Hall & Spa
Bishopthorpe Road
YO23 2GB
United Kingdom


  • Laurel Waldron

    Laurel has always been a wordsmith; labelled something of a child poetry prodigy and a lifelong lover of creative writing, it was an inevitable career move. Having grown up in Brussels, she’s now a proud south Londoner and combines a 15 year strong career in PR with freelance travel and food writing. The accomplished seamstress and fashion graduate satisfies her creative streak with side hustles in making bespoke wedding dresses.

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