Well, it's Autumn once again. Dark nights, lashing rain, Heartbeat on the telly and home made soup for tea. And... Autumn romantic breaks! Whoever invented the Autumn getaway deserves a medal - how else could us poor working peeps drag ourselves all the way from Summer to Christmas? I don't know about your local paper, but here in Scotland the Scotsman always does hotel promotions at this time of year - usually it's a 'two nights for the price of one' or similar. Last year we used this offer to spend two chilly but cheap nights up in Kingussie (not v. recommended I'm afraid) and this year we wanted a real change of scene. But Yorkshire? Isn't that a bit extreme? - asked my boyfriend, visualising a long tedious car journey and florid faced locals chasing whippets about the streets. There's a golf course, said I. OK, let's book it, said he, Scotland's own Tiger Woods. Yippee! The deal was fantastic - two nights dinner, bed and breakfast for only 75 quid each, at Yorkshire's Aldwark Manor Hotel. Bearing in mind that the award winning restaurant charges thirty quid a pop just for dinner, we're quids in already. Ok, cut through horrendous journey down A1. We came off the A1 about half an hour short of York, and from there it was all signposted - just as well, as these country roads are a nightmare to the uninitiated. Having said that, the countryside and all the pretty villages were lovely to look at, and this part of the journey was really quite relaxing. We had to cross a toll bridge to get to Aldwark - 15p to cross! - and then we were there. Wow - the manor is truly fantastic to look at, once you've got over the shock that it is built in red brick! (Us Scots only use red brick for bus shelters and gasworks). The hotel is set in the middle of a rolling golf course, and there are very sweet flowerbeds everywhere, and a big gold f
ountain outside. Very good first impression! The staff were friendly and helpful, checked us in no bother, and took our dinner reservation for that evening (felt strangely middle aged doing that, don't know why??). The room was up a v. impressive stairway, fresh lilies everywhere and of course the inevitable olde worlde paintings. The story is that Aldwark Manor was built by a Lord Walsingham in 1865 as a gift to his oldest daughter - are you listening, Dad? It has retained all of it's charm, and been continually upgraded to fit our modern standards. Our room was superb - all lovely, original old wooden furniture, none of your production line crap here. The tv was in a big cabinet, and the tea tray was groaning with varities of Harrogate tea, and other goodies including sweets and biccies. Yum! The bathroom was great too - very Victorian in style, and clean as a new whistle. Heaps of towels, shiny tiles - you get the picture. After fiddling with the remote, my boyfriend was off down to the golf shop to book his early morning round for the next day. After that, with the afternoon stretching ahead of us, we booked his and hers back massages down in the spa complex! This is where Aldwark really shines. The Spa complex has only been open for a year, and it is the best I've ever seen. A gym, a great pool, a spa tub, steam rooms etc - all clean, big enough and beautifully designed. The locker rooms are done out in traditional dark wood lockers - lovely! The beauty salon is superb - we both had a massage lasting almost an hour and we only paid 15 quid each for this. The therapist I had was amazing - her hands worked wonders as she chatted away to me, telling me all about the area, and also about all the alternative therapies she's qualified in. She let me relax with a drink of water at the end, and even gave me some Decleor freebies to take away! I felt thoroughly pampered. But I haven
't even got to the good bit yet - the FOOD. All I can say is Oh. My. God. If I ever have the chance to eat at Aldwark again - I will grab it. We had already been told by their glamourous website that the food had won awards, etc, but who really listens to that stuff? We expected good, hearty Yorkshire fare. What a surprise - this was the closest I have ever come to eating true gourmet food. We had three courses, but the chef sent two complementary 'mini courses' too - to stimulate and cleanse our palates, apparently. Everything was presented in masterchef style, on huge plates with swirls of sauces, and artfully placed veg. Sounds like faff? Well, it was damn tasty faff. We were also served warm freshly baked rolls, and fresh butter. I was lucky to get beyond the starter - but somehow I ate most of all five courses! The second night we opted to eat in the less formal brasserie - but it was the same chef cooking, and the same unbelieveably high quality scran on offer. My starter was 'mussels cooked in cider with leeks' - if you ever get the chance to try this, it's wonderful. My boyfriend's beef was 'historic' apparently, and the sweets were divine. With Frank Sinatra crooning in the background, who could fail to feel romantic? The breakfasts were super-fresh and hearty. I only had cereal, croissant, coffee etc, but of course the golfing hero needed a fry to start his day. The meat and eggs were all fresh and tasty, and looked the total antidote to the usual hotel breakfast 'plastic food'. My coffee was freshly brewed in a cafetiere. Deeply civilised! All in all, I can honestly say that the Aldwark Manor is the best UK hotel I have ever stayed in. It has everything - great staff, great rooms, sumptuous spa and beauty salon, amazing food, and of course that golf course, where residents play half price. Our bargain package made out trip ludicrously good value, bu
t no doubt they do all kinds of promotions direct, especially on midweek. The Christmas and New Year packages look groovy too. The hotel is only a half hour drive from York, and from Harrogate too, making ideal for a shopping/ exploring trip. We both came away from our relaxing break feeling ten years younger. The grounds are beautiful and romantic, and the hotel has weddings almost every weekend, some from as far afield as Scotland. Darling, are you listening??? Aldwark Manor Hotel, near Alne, York. YO61 1UF. 01347 838146. www.aldwarkmanor.co.uk
This hotel in the lovely resort of selby maybe classified by the motoring organisations as a 3 star rating but I would give it five stars for service cleanliness and food,a wonderful place to stay for a short or long break with plenty todo in the area,a nice touch although I am smoker myself is that they ask very nicely for guests to refrain from smoking in the rooms and dining room. It maybe slightly more than a bog standard b and b but you get what you pay for I will be returning in the future.
The PostHouse hotel at Leeds/Selby is really easy to find, right on the A1/A63 fork. However, if you arrive at night, the dark, twisty unmade road down to the hotel is a little scary, but once you reach the car park it’s fine. Reception is huge and check in was swift and painless. This is a pretty good spot to stop off for a quick meeting. There are plenty of tables and it’s just a little more civilised to stop here and meet someone for coffee than it is to hook up at a service station. You can hire rooms by the hour, which made me a little nervous, but this only applies to meeting rooms at £10ph which are very reasonable for interviewing or slightly more formal meetings. Rooms are a long walk from reception giving you the opportunity to admire (?) the sixties glass architecture. The rooms themselves are spacious with the normal PostHouse goodies of tea/coffee and a reasonable bathroom, but no biscuits, not even a custard cream. Some of the rooms are enormous, with two double beds and a double sofa bed, making it quite a reasonably priced place to stay if you are travelling with a tribe. There is a small swimming pool, which is a nice touch, particularly if you are staying for a few days. In room movies are available at £7.50, and they kindly point out that this will appear on your bill as ‘room service’ rather than ‘nasty pervert charge’, but as no meals are charged at £7.50 you’ll know exactly what the item is for. Being so close to the main roads does have draw backs. The hotel is noisy, and you can’t request a room away from the noise as there are busy roads on both sides. The double glazing is old, and you can expect to hear the rumble of lorries all night long. There is a mini bar that stocks a few beers and little wine bottles, as well as, rather cruelly, Kit Kats and Cadburys Mini Heroes. These are all available at extortionate rates, but if you can be bothered t
o put on clothes the hotel shares a site with a service station so you can choose from a wider range of over priced goods there without getting back in the car. The room service menu is the normal PostHouse jobby – steak, burgers, lasagne or sandwiches, and it arrives in good time and reasonably hot. The restaurant is branded ‘Traders’. The staff there will interrogate you to see whether you are staying on a dinner, bed and breakfast package, or just B&B. This is important. If you’re on an inclusive deal you only get a limited menu choice, but if you ask you can get the whole menu top choose from, with a £15 allowance towards whatever you want. Unless you’re really bloaty you can eat reasonably well on this and still choose what you want. The menu itself is rather like you’d expect at a wannabe TGI Fridays. Plenty of ‘sizzling’ plates and tex mex themes as well as the steak, pie or fish and chips options. Pretty much everything I’ve ever eaten here has been over seasoned and over cooked, and I’ve yet to see anyone served an entire meal without the waitperson forgetting at least one item. Despite that it is perfectly acceptable for a mid price hotel, and I’d eat there again. You can also run down to the bar, steal a Traders menu and order anything you like from it on room service, provided it is during normal restaurant serving hours and you don’t tell them it was me that told you. If you don’t fancy anything the PostHouse kitchens have to offer then you can always stroll over to the Little Chef on the other side of the car park. Room service breakfast is more than big enough with pastries, cornflakes and yoghurt along with your choice of beverage. It comes with a complimentary copy of The Times, so don’t shell out for any other paper. Overall I’d recommend PostHouse Leeds Selby to anyone looking to break up the long A1 route, but i
f you’re looking for something in Leeds or a place to stay for a few days, I’d look elsewhere. Junction A1/A63 South Milford Nr Leeds North Yorkshire LS25 5LF Tel: 01977 682711 Fax: 01977 685462