“ Address: Cowpasture Road / Ilkley / West Yorkshire / LS29 8RQ / Tel: 01943 430001 „
Funerals happen sadly and we found ourselves looking for accommodation near Harrogate, as the day of the funeral coincided with the Harrogate Show and local hotels were all booked up. This led us to searching the area and we chose to stay a couple of nights at The Craiglands Hotel in Ilkley which was just 40 minutes from Harrogate and within walking distance of the town and Ilkley moor - baht' at!
The main building was built in 1859 as a place for "Hydropathic procedures" popular in these times. These included mustard pads, massage, and all the latest Turkish, Russian and Electro-Chemical baths. The systems, coupled with the "tonic" air from the moors had the effect of enhancing the popularity of this splendid hydro. The grounds were laid out with croquet, lawn tennis and a bowling alley for exercise in the summer months. Inside was a hall for indoor sports, concerts etc. The popularity waned towards the end of the 19th century and Ilkley became more of a holiday resort after the First World War.
After parking the car we walked down towards the hotel enjoying the beautiful fragrance from a huge bed of Hyacinths, and there was a choice of a ramp or steps up to the hotel with a covered entrance. The Reception was to the right of the doors and we were quickly given a room key after signing a form. We headed to the lift for the first floor to save carrying the case, but later discovered the stairs was the best option as we needed to come back down some stairs to access the side of the hotel where our room was situated. Perhaps we could have been pointed in the right direction! Thankfully there were rooms for disabled and parking places, we though had several steps and stairs to negotiate before reaching our room! One negative point there was no mention of booking a table for dinner, which we returned and did, although it wasn't essential.
Some reviews we read mentioned that the hotel was in need of a makeover and to be fair this was still on going with painters working in corridors on the first level that we went to from the lift. Our room had been updated and was looking very smart, the bathroom at first glance looked good, but the bath was in need of some enamel work, although the floor covering was new looking.
Our double bed was 2 x 3foot beds fastened together, with a wooden headboard and a lovely white duvet, pillows and a deep turquoise throw and cushions. The wardrobe with half hanging and half shelf space was in dark wood, as was the chest of drawers and writing desk. There were plenty of lamps, one on the writing desk, and bedside lamps and small spotlights for reading in bed. A coffee table underneath the wall mounted flat screen TV had a tray with a kettle and tea and coffee etc. A hair dryer was found in a drawer.
Two mirrors one above the writing desk and a full length on the wall near the wardrobe were useful, but the lamp didn't throw enough light to make it useful for applying makeup, a light above the mirror would have been better. However there was a very comfortable chair at the desk covered in brown and turquoise boldly striped velour fabric and a small armchair matched it. The room was high and they hadn't skimped on curtain material, it reached the floor and was beautiful modern fabric, in browns, beige and turquoise flowers and leaves. The carpet was in beige with a few deeper beige stripes.
The bathroom was a reasonable size with a window that was open when we arrived and which we thought was going to remain open as it was stuck tight, but with a few knocks I managed to get the bar up and we closed it. The only heat in the bathroom was a lukewarm radiator so I guess it would be a quick shower in the winter months! The bath as I mentioned needed a makeover with some enamel but the towels were new, white and soft and fluffy, the toiletries were good sized bottles and the shower gel was replaced, but the shower curtain although cleaned was stained - a small point but disappointingly pinky orange stains at the bottom.
The Brasserie 1 had recently been refurbished and had French windows opening out onto decking. It had a fire set ready to light but was warm enough whilst we were there. The wooden floor had been newly laid but all the tables seemed to wobble and serviettes placed strategically to compensate! It had nice wooden tables and linen napkins. One bad point was there was a gap in the glass screens from the corridor between reception and the lounge bar, the waiter used this too and some people sitting at the table nearest were uncomfortable as they seemed to be in the way. The menu did look quite good but not everything was a available unfortunately on the first evening, although the waiter suggested I could have Salmon with my Prawn and Lemon grass risotto instead of the Sea Bass. The policy is to serve excellent food at reasonable prices using locally grown produce. Starters ranged from £4.95 for sweetcorn soup with crab dumpling to £5.25 for watermelon, avocado, feta and pine nut salad, or £5.95 for Duck pate with Fig marmalade and butter loaf. Mains included Roast Lamb shank at nearly £16, Cornfed Chicken at £13, fish dishes and a vegetarian tart, well two actually with roasted baby aubergine and cherry tomatoes, rocket salad and a lovely dressing which I really enjoyed cost only £9.95. A small selection of delicious desserts which again they didn't have the lemon one I wanted, but there was a lemon tart which was excellent instead. These were about £5.50 in price, and my husband really enjoyed his sticky toffee pudding. . Bottles of wine cost from £15.95 and other drinks were typical of hotel prices.
The Brasserie 1 was also the restaurant used for breakfast which was different on both mornings! A table was set up near the corridor across from the restaurant with cereals, fruit, juices, cheese and croissants. Health and Hygiene could be questionable I think! The waiter took the order for tea or coffee and toast and the first morning we had a menu and ordered a cooked breakfast, the second morning there must have been more residents or chef was busy cooking for the coach party that was staying overnight and eating in another room as breakfast was cooked ready and in heated containers on another table set up across from the restaurant
As mentioned coach parties are catered for but they seemed to be kept separate from other guests most of the time. The hotel has 10 air conditioned conference suites and also caters for weddings. We peeped into one of the rooms set up with chairs covered in white for the wedding ceremony. They have their own coordinator and packages available.
The lounge bar was comfortable and had leaflets about the surrounding area. Meals were available here too from another menu, from a simple sandwich to tacos or steak.
There are 62 rooms and some are Executive upgrades or suites, I noticed that it said there were 200 car parking spaces, but I also read there was 6 acres of lovely grounds to explore, but the garden was very small and as there were a lot of new houses it looked as if the ground had been sold off! Ilkley is equidistant to Leeds, Harrogate and Bradford so a good place to stay for visiting many places. All areas of the hotel have wireless internet so good for business people too.
We booked over the phone for a special offer on a 2 night stay bed and breakfast with dinner on the first night which cost £99 per night, but you had to pay in advance and could not cancel. Prices normally are around £130 per room per night.
So the verdict! The bedroom was a bit dark being on the side of the building and looking out onto a high area with trees, not much of a view, but we didn't bother trying to change it as we weren't in the room very much. The bed however was very comfortable and we slept well - apart from being woken early on the second morning by the fire alarm!
The food was good, some I'd go as far to say was excellent, but we should have been told what wasn't available before we studied the menu and made our choices. Breakfast seemed a bit hit of miss, as there was a better selection of fruit, cheeses and yogurt on the second morning, in fact there was no cheese or yogurt on the first morning and only tinned grapefruit which I can't eat! The bacon and mushrooms were delicious though, and the coffee came in a cafetiere and there was plenty of it. So all in all we did enjoy our stay and were able to enjoy Ilkley and a walk on Ilkley Moor baht' at!