“ Address: Nidd Hall Hotel / Nidd / Harrogate HG3 3BN / North Yorkshire „
Over many years we have enjoyed the occasional break with Warner Leisure Hotels; we were introduced to them by my parents who often visited two maybe three times a year during their retirement. As anyone that has read some of my reviews will know I love historical buildings and Warner's own a total of seven Grade I and II listed hotels and Nidd Hall was the only one I had not visited before now. My parents are sadly no longer with us and my husband and I decided that in their memory we would treat ourselves to the 'Royal Room' at Nidd Hall, which was my mother's favourite of all the breaks, we really pushed the boat out and for what we spent I am sure we could have had a holiday abroad, but this break had to be special as it was in my parents memory and the last one to visit, we also don't go on the breaks now as we have tightened our belts with the recession and save visits like this for very special events.
Once we had made our decision on the dates, we chose the weekend of 20th-22nd November 2009 as I wanted to see the house decorated for Christmas. I went online and started the booking process, but as I was unsure what the Royal rooms were like I decided to phone the main booking number instead. The lady on the end of the phone was extremely helpful and explained all the choices with rooms, where I could a larger room with a view which had a bath and a shower, or another room with a suite (separate room with a sofa chairs etc) and a shower only. She described all the different choices of Royal rooms/suites that were available and situated within the main house; yes you actually get to stay in this wonderful Grade I listed building and not in an annexe as you would if you had taken one of the smaller rooms.
The Royal rooms do cost between £50 - £100 a night extra on the price of a normal room, for this you get the luxury of staying in the main building, you get a TV with free view and DVD player, fridge and mini bar (which is very expensive), luxury choice of coffees as well as tea and coffee making facilities, bathrobes and slippers to use for the duration of your stay and a welcome pack of fruit, chocolates and wine. You also get to take occupancy of your room from 1300hrs where the other rooms cannot be taken up until 1500hrs.
She relayed all this information to me making sure I understood everything before making our choice of room; we explained our needs and choose our room, we also still got the online discount as if we had; we were very excited and started looking forward to our visit. It might be prudent to say here that where you make the booking you will need to pay a deposit or the money in full depending on the time scale between booking and your visit. Our receipt arrived prior to our visit complete with a booklet informing us what leisure facilities were available during our stay and a little map on how to get there.
~~A Little Bit of History~~
Nidd Hall got its name from the village of the same name which was originally the 'capital' of Nidderdale. The name itself is the English form of the Celtic 'Nith' or the 'Shining River'. It was the site of an Anglo Saxon settlement approx six miles out of Ripon.
There was a small manor house on the site which dated back to the 16th century, but this was pulled down in 1825 and there are only the cellars left from the original building. A much larger house was built in a Georgian style; it does have some Victorian characteristics as well. The house went on to be passed down the Rawson family line and was extended in 1890, taking a sideward's inheritance it now belongs to the family of Viscount Furness who owned the property until the end of the Great War. His youngest son who retained the title added electricity in 1924. During the 2nd World War it was occupied by Skellfield School for Girls, but the family moved back in during 1946, land and property were sold and resold until 1996 when Warner Holidays purchased the hall.
We arrived around 1pm and managed to find a parking space right outside reception, first impressions were wow, and we felt like royalty it looked so grand. As we were early visitors booking in did not take long, the receptionist took our details and we filled in a registration form and were given our keys and a small welcome pack telling us what was on during our stay. The reception area was massive with lovely alcoves containing white statues looking down on you; they stood out really well against the yellow walls. My excitement was growing as I wanted to get moving and explore this wonderful building.
After being directed to the lift we made our way to our room, we walked across a balcony which looked over the reception area and then onto our room. It was lovely walking to our room as all the doors were left wide open so we could have a peep in at the other rooms on route to ours; they were really lovely looking rooms. We got to our room and wow was I impressed, we had a really large bed, covered in a lovely royal blue and white throw, there was a little alcove with two comfortable chairs, free view television, DVD player, and mini bar/fridge. There was a wooden box on the dressing table when I opened it; I discovered an assortment of pretty foiled containers of flavoured coffee; on opening the draws I discovered the kettle and tea making facilities were tucked away inside the draw. Inside the wardrobe were our white slippers and bathrobes as well as an Iron and ironing board for our use; I was really pleased that the bathrobes and slippers fit as neither myself or my husband are slim.
Under the window which faced over the front of the hotel so you got a view of the car park and some of the grounds which displayed a wonderful big tree which was lit up for Christmas; on the coffee table was our welcome pack which consisted of a small bottle of red and a small bottle of white wine, a small box of chocolates, a bowl of fruit and two glasses. The bathroom was clean and had a white bath with a shower over it, there were sash windows, I did try to open it but it wouldn't open, thankfully the window in the bedroom did open because we like to sleep with a window open all year round.
I started to unpack whilst my husband slipped out to make a complaint, he was very unhappy as he had ordered me a special gift pack of flowers, sparkling wine, a larger box of chocs, a larger basket of flowers etc, which were not there on our arrival and they were meant to be, he was very upset about his surprise going wrong.
Our room was very comfortable and clean, although I did find storage a little limited, as being a lady I did bring everything except the kitchen sink, the bed was bigger than our king-size one at home, we could lose each other in it and believe me that's not an easy thing to do, lol. The room was warm and the fridge was great for keeping my water and my hubby's beer cold. We were a little disappointed with the bathroom however, I did try to have a bath, but the water temperature was less than luke warm, so I tried a shower and it really wasn't much better. We did complain to reception about the lack of hot water and was instructed to let it run for 10 minutes, but that didn't work either. We also had a knocking coming from the pipe work which was caused by an air lock in the pipe work, the manager did say he would take a look, but to be honest I don't know if he did.
It was a bit strange using the kettle whilst it was stuck in a draw, but we got used to it; there was a hairdryer provided for our use, which was fine, but you had to keep your finger on the on button to get it to work, which was ok for me, but not for someone who suffered with arthritis having to hold the button in all the time.
Unpacking completed it was time to explore these wonderful large rooms and the history they contain. I have to say the rooms simply take my breath away they were beautiful with their high ceilings, sash windows and wonderful period features. The rooms were decorated tastefully in keeping with the grandeur of the building itself. There was the drawing room and the library where you could a quiet moment, sit and read or play a board game, a small tea room which is part of the Terrace Restaurant where you could enjoy a light lunch or an afternoon tea. As it was the festive season we were given a free glass of warm Mulled Wine and a piece of shortbread on our first day.
There is a small gift shop inside the house (there is one at all the Warner hotels), this sells essentials in case you forgot your toothbrush and other items; they do have some gift toiletries in your rooms, such as soap, shampoo, shower gel etc. The shop also offers sweets, papers, little gift trinkets to take home with you.
The historic features of the hotel were extremely impressive and I really did enjoy the aesthetic beauty of the place, but I was a tad disappointed as they have seemed to have 'toned' down the Christmas decorations, one of the beauty's of the past Christmas's was the extravagant Christmas decorations and loads of wonderful Christmas about the place, it now looks quite sparse.
On the Sunday of our visit the lift to our room stopped short and as I have trouble walking and the fact that I didn't notice the shortfall straight away, I managed to trip up and ended up jarring my back; I didn't make a complaint, but I was concerned that someone could get hurt, so I did ask reception to request maintenance take a look at it. A short while later, there was a knock on our bedroom door and it was the duty manager coming to make sure that I was ok after my little trip, which I thought was a nice touch.
~~ Entertainment ~~
This being a Warner break they do put on a lot of entertainment for your enjoyment and it is all optional, it is totally your choice if you wish to part take.
They offer things like quizzes, archery instruction, bingo at some of the hotels, competitions in the games rooms; afternoon movies, aqua fit in the pool, afternoon dancing and not to forget the evening entertainment, which some nights is provided by the entertainment staff and other nights they have guest stars, check their website or brochure to see who's on during the time you want to visit.
There was a day trip on offer during our visit and this was to Harrogate, we took up the trip and really enjoyed a bit of Christmas shopping and sampling some of the delights it had to offer, like some lovely cakes from Betty's (which is my mother in law's favourite cake shop).
I talked my husband into taking a dip in the swimming pool with me as our room still had no hot water, we enjoyed the lovely warm pool and the Jacuzzi; there was a sauna and steam room available but we did not indulge, but we did take the opportunity to use the showers down here as they were hot and we could get refreshed ready for our evening meal.
Most Warner hotels offer a beauty salon which give you a choice of Massages, facials, hand and nail treatments, tanning etc. I did enquire about having one of the treatments, but I left it a bit late and they were fully booked up; so if you want to try one for yourself I would recommend that you book in advance before you go.
We visited the games room on the Sunday having a couple of games of snooker on the full size table they have. Also we could have played skittles for a small charge; there was a dart board and a couple of table tennis tables as well.
In the evenings after our meal we retired to the entertainment lounge where we watched the dancing (sadly we couldn't join in as we don't know how to ballroom dance), the main shows start around 9pm. We enjoyed the evening shows whilst we were there, but as my friends son was doing really well at darts on the TV I kept nipping out to the bar area where they had the live darts showing on a large flat screen TV. The entertainment goes on until around midnight I believe, but we like to retire to our room after the main show and enjoy a bit of television and a nightcap before bed.
Other facilities are available like air rifle shooting, outdoor bowls, fishing, tennis, a nine hole putting green, boules, croquet and they also offer cycles for hire, we didn't partake in any of these activities as it was late November and a bit damp and cold outside.
~~ Eating here ~~
I have already mentioned about afternoon, tea, this can be taken in the Terrace Restaurant which is new to Nidd Hall. You can enjoy light lunches and afternoon tea during the day and in the evening you can try their menu at an extra surcharge of £7.95 each if you wish to try something different. We did book for the Saturday night, but after looking at the menu there was nothing that appealed to both of us, so we cancelled our table and ate at the Rawson Restaurant instead.
The Terrace is open for evening meals between 6.30 and 9.00 pm and you get a choice of 6 starters, main meals and desserts. Here is a small sample to give you an idea what was on offer.
Starters: Croustade of crottin goat's cheese, tomato confit, basil pesto or Terrine of leaping duck, Yorkshire cured duck; Yorkshire cured ham, and Armagnac prunes, apple chutney, toasted sour dough.
Main Courses: Seared fillet of sea beam, risotto of tiger prawns and chorizo lemon and chive butter sauce or Rump of Nidderdale lamb, braised lamb hotpot, and roasted root vegetables, creamed celeriac.
Desserts: Warm flourless chocolate cake, fudge sauce, orange crème anglaise or Lemon curd cheese cake, blackberry compote, almond tuille.
Now I have looked at the menu again I do wonder why I didn't try it out, we must have preferred what was on offer in the other restaurant more.
Rawson Restaurant - as your stay here is half board, this is the restaurant where you have the same table for the duration of your visit for both your breakfast and evening meals. It is advised that once you have settled in you take a walk down to the restaurant and a member of staff will show you to your table and make sure it is ok with you. We walked down on our visit and when they realised I needed a stick for walking they moved us to a more accessible table not too far from the food to enable me to carry it easily back to my seat.
Let's get down to the important bit, the food; all the meals are done in a buffet/carvery style with a small menu for those that want to try something different. We will start with the breakfasts, these are served between 0800 and 1000hrs and once you are settled at your table the waiter/waitress comes to ask if you will be attending the buffet bar or if you would like something from the kitchen (as detailed on your menu), also offering tea/coffee and toast. My husband and I stayed with the buffet bar for the breakfasts, but things like omelettes or kippers etc can be ordered if they are on the menu for that day (it is changed daily). You have loads to choose from, there is the cereal bar, the breads and the hot counter; hubby and I grabbed a couple of fruit juices and went straight for the hot counter which gave us a choice of poached eggs, bacon, pork sausage, scrambled egg, baked beans, fresh tomato, hash brown, mushrooms and black pudding. We enjoyed our breakfast, some of the bacon was a little dry, but you get that when it's left out.
Our evening meals were different each night, but there was always a salad bar available, which could be used for starters and main courses; you were given a choice of two meats on the carvery and a couple of other dishes like pasta or chilli etc. There is a menu which offers a couple of other dishes from the kitchen which you can choose from if you don't fancy what is on offer, my husband has a tendency of choosing from the menu quite often during our visits. The evening meals are three courses and were very pleasant.
I usually go for a light salad from the salad bar for my starter, which also has slight variations each night, and I went for a carvery on my three nights which was lamb, pork and beef for me, a different one each night of course, I do remember chicken portions being an alternative one night and tuna steaks on another evening.
My husband had French onion soup for a starter one night, but was a little disappointed as it was tepid, he had potted crab with bread and butter on another night which he really enjoyed, and he had a light salad starter on the final night. One of the evenings he had a main meal from the kitchen and this was Beef Bourignon which he really enjoyed but would have liked a bigger portion of it.
The desserts were lovely, we had a chocolate truffle with orange cream which was light and fluffy and not too sweet or sickly, another night it was vanilla cheese cake, this wasn't so nice, as it was thick and got a little sickly after a couple of mouthfuls. Hubby not being a big pudding fan (disgusting I know, but it means more for me, yum). He went for the cheese and biscuits for two of the evenings, he was a little disappointed as the choices of cheeses and biscuits were limited and the same on both nights.
Overall though even with the little niggles the overall experience was lovely, staff was very polite and we both enjoyed the majority of the food. We were lucky and got to enjoy the company of some nice couples that were sitting on our table which also added to the dining experience.
~~ Rooms ~~
I have already mentioned that we paid extra and had a Royal room, so I won't go into them again; there are two other types of rooms available.
Signature room - according to the brochure these rooms offer you a combination of elegance and comfort offering you larger beds, ensuite bathroom, mini bar, flat screen TV/DVD player and digital radio, freebie toiletries, chairs, tea and coffee making facilities, hair dryer, iron and ironing board (The Royal rooms have all this and a little bit more).
Ambassador room - the only difference from the above that I can see is the bed is smaller or you have the option of taking twin beds, there is only a TV and there is no mini bar, all the rest is the same.
Obviously prices vary depending on the room of your choice.
~~ How to get to Nidd Hall ~~
Nidd Hall Hotel
EMAIL ADDRESS - www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk/niddhall
Directions from the A1(M)
Leave the A1(M) at junction 47 which is signposted Harrogate, Knaresborough and York, you then take the A59 towards Knaresborough and follow the signs into Knaresborough. Go straight through the town centre and when you reach the Bond End traffic lights turn left then take an immediate right onto the B6165 signposted Ripley and Pateley Bridge. Nidd Hall is on the right hand side approximately 4 miles along this road.
Alternatively cheat and like me let the sat nav direct you there.
~~ Prices ~~
Prices vary greatly depending when you visit and what the entertainment is during your stay, but there is usually some kind of offer on to give you a small discount so it is worth looking it up on the internet to see what is available for when you want to stay. You can pick up a brochure from your local travel agents, or you can give them a ring on 0800 1 388 399 or you could request one online at the link listed above.
~~ Disability ~~
The hotel caters exceptionally well for the disabled, my father was using a wheelchair for many years and visited Warner breaks on numerous occasions. There are lifts to all floors and they do have rooms to cater for wheelchair users.
~~ Other Info ~~
A little piece of trivia for you, it is rumoured that King Edward VIII was introduced to Mrs Simpson at one of the functions held in this grand mansion during its hay day.
~~ Overall ~~
I love staying at Warner Leisure Hotels especially the historic and grand ones, it is that touch of luxury that I really love especially being that close to all that history and beauty, even better if the place was haunted.
Nidd Hall had loads of character but we did have a few niggles during our visit, although staff were very pleasant and helpful, when it came to sorting these problems they seemed slightly dismissive. At the end of the visit you are given a questionnaire for your feedback, on this occasion I wrote them a letter to accompany the feedback form, I was completely fair mentioning good points as well as bad points, to this day we have never received a reply from this letter.
I mentioned in it little observations I had because I felt it wouldn't take much to rectify and make it look good again, for example in the ladies toilets by the main entertainment room, the handle to the toilet door was broken, the ceiling had brown stains on it, the paint had bubbled on the top of the door and the paint was chipping off the pipe work. I know these sound trivial, but when you pay nearly £600 for a weekend of luxury you expect the attention to detail. Even with these little niggles I would still visit again for a special occasion one day and if I have a wonderful big win on the lottery then I would definitely visit a little more often as I would love to go for the ballroom dance lesson weeks.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review
Lyn x (arnoldhenryrufus)