The Black Swan Hotel

Mimi ON Aug 12, 2009 AT 9:00 am

The Black Swan Hotel

The Black Swan Hotel

By Claire Yates

If you know your Swaledale from your Wensleydale (cheeses to make it clear) and love donning a flat cap and wellies, book a weekend in Helmsley, a stone’s throw from the North Yorkshire Moors and stay at the Black Swan Hotel. Occupying an original Elizabethan coaching inn and dominating the market square for centuries, it is both a famous landmark and a great base to explore what the locals call ‘God’s country’.

Helmsley itself sums up a quaint Yorkshire market town to a tee. There are narrow streets full of fascinating shops, giving a charming mix between antiquarian books, crafts and interior design. There’s a castle to explore. There’s the essential corner shop selling local delicacies including rare breed meats, Yorkshire curd tarts and the obligatory pies (all surprisingly cheap too). A visit to Helmsley provides a rewind from modern living and throws you back to a simpler time. There’s also a superb choice of cafes, tearooms, fine dining restaurants and cosy country pubs, meaning that you won’t go hungry.

To work up an appetite, pull out the tweed and walking shoes (no-one’s seen dead around here without sturdy footwear) and head to the majestic Moors National Park – the reason in itself to visit this part of the world. On a particularly sunny and clear afternoon, we had only birds and sheep for company – the crooked drystone walls man-made over the years were the only sign that anyone had been here before us.

The Tudor Lounge at The Black Swan Hotel

The Tudor Lounge at The Black Swan Hotel

Returning to the hotel, we couldn’t miss sampling afternoon tea from the award-winning Tearoom & Patisserie. Sat with a scone and English tea by the fireplace in the lounge, we felt like we had stepped into an Emmerdale set! We then ventured back to our traditional and cosy room, exactly what was required after an active afternoon. All the hotel rooms are individually named after local dales, so you can walk from Glaisdale to Bransdale in under a minute – a lot less time than earlier in the day! We soothed our aching limbs in the bath – the gorgeous smelling Pecksniff’s Mood Therapy toiletries put us in a good frame of mind for dinner.

And dinner was what proved to be the high point of the Helmsley experience with superb locally-sourced food and attention to detail. We sampled the 7-course tasting menu, with matching wines for each course. The ‘Rabbit in an English Garden’ was an imaginative starter (similar to a Heston Blumenthal creation) and followed by pan-fried scallops with caramelised cauliflower, hazelnuts and sherry vinegar proved wonderful. Hunger quickly dissipating and turning into gluttony, the beef fillet, with pomme puree, wild mushrooms and truffle jus was cooked to perfection. Feeling full with but with the stamina to carry on, a pre-desert of lemon meringue pie, followed by blackberry crème brulee and chocolate cake nearly finished us, but we managed to fit a taster place of cheese and biscuits – it really was too good to miss.

Try the 7-course tasting menu

Try the 7-course tasting menu

We really recommend Helmsley and the Black Swan Hotel for a healthy relaxing weekend – filled with walking and fuelled by excellent cuisine. It’s an easy base for the North Yorkshire Moors and is also within easy reach of Whitby, York and Harrogate if you want to combine with a little more action.

Price Guide:
£100 – 240 per room per night, including dinner, bed and breakfast for 2 people.
Dinner only – £33 per person for 3-course dinner, £50 for 7-course tasting menu, or £70 for 7-course tasting menu including wine

 

The Black Swan Hotel
Market Place, Helmsley, North Yorkshire YO62 5BJ
01439 770466
http://www.blackswan-helmsley.co.uk

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