As you wind along the road through Wensleydale in the northern Yorkshire Dales, all seems well with the world long before you reach Yorebridge House.
The road is surrounded by rolling green hills dotted with dry stone walls and tumbledown barns, and is punctuated every now and then by a traditional Dales village of stone cottages, often with an inviting country pub.
Arriving at the hotel, the general feeling of contentedness continued. The former Victorian schoolhouse on the edge of the tiny village of Bainbridge looks the picture of a country retreat from the outside, set in its own grounds on the banks of the trickling River Ure.
Once inside, the welcoming staff showed us around the impeccably designed interiors. No stuffy florals or chintzy furnishings here; the flawless décor manages to combine modern and uncluttered with cosy and inviting in a way that few places manage to pull off.
Each room is themed by a different country, bringing a feel of owners Dave and Charlotte’s favourite places from their travels to a small village in North Yorkshire. We are shown to ‘Greenwich’, the superior house suite which takes up the whole of the attic space and is based on a New York loft apartment.
The room certainly has the wow factor – a huge bedroom with a vast bed tucked under the original beams greets you as you walk through the door. There is also a large sitting area with huge flat screen TV and views over green fields where cows are grazing (reminding you that you are in fact in the Yorkshire Dales). But it is the bathroom that is the real highlight – twin roll top baths sit in the middle of a huge room and allow you to admire the Yorkshire countryside while you soak, ideally with a glass of champagne to complete the relaxation.
Other options include a Caribbean room, a Maldives room and a Japanese room. Or if you would prefer to keep things a bit closer to home, opt for the Bainbridge room, which is no less luxurious than those themed on places further afield. Several of the rooms have private outdoor hot tubs for added pampering.
Before dinner we reluctantly tore ourselves away from the hotel for a gentle stroll along the river to village of Askrigg. A must see for fans of James Herriot – the recent BBC series was filmed here – the pretty hillside village was peaceful on a Sunday afternoon and the best thing to do seemed to be sample a couple of the country pubs offering a good selection of local ales.
Back at the hotel, it was time to try the restaurant’s local, seasonal produce. Interesting combinations (options included local lamb rump with white asparagus and samphire and cod with curry spices and girolles), a huge wine list and a lovely, bright dining room looking out over the gardens made for an excellent way to spend the evening.
The following day we were spoilt for choice of things to do. After a hearty English breakfast, a country walk straight out of the door is the obvious choice. But, having tired out our legs the day before, we decided to head a little further afield to the crumbling ruins of Middleham Castle - home of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, before he became the much reviled king, Richard III – and then on to Fountains Abbey, stunningly picturesque ruins of a 12th century Cistercian abbey and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
History soaked, it was with great reluctance that we started our journey south, rather than heading back along Wensleydale for another slice of rural indulgence at Yorebridge House.