Usually the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a luxury hotel is the image of a grand mansion, probably furnished with a mixture of beautiful antiques and contemporary indulgences such as plasma-screen televisions, DVD players and iPod docks. No imaginary luxury hotel would be complete without the obligatory fluffy bathrobes and expensive cosmetics, and also probably comes with such extras as room and laundry services. However, many of the five star luxury hotels the Yorkshire Dales has to offer are actually of a different sort altogether. These are the smaller, more personal hotels whose attention to detail and quirky sense of personality has earned them the title ‘boutique’ hotels.
Yorkshire abounds with these small luxury hotels that often come with an interesting and chequered past. The Old Deanery in Ripon, for example, was once the private annexe of the Canon-in-Residence of the nearby monastery. It was once said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman called Jenny Wanless, as well as the old Dean himself who is said to wander the corridors and bless those he comes across. Lewis Carroll once stayed in the town, at which time three human skeletons were discovered when builders were digging the foundations for the bay windows at the front of the building. Today, the hotel provides luxury contemporary accommodation in a highly individual building that has retained its character despite the many changes it has undergone throughout the years.
The Thorney Mire Barn Bed & Breakfast is another of the small luxury hotels Yorkshire Dales wide that just so happens to be steeped in a different kind of past. Where once it was a functioning barn for the farmhouse next door, it has now been transformed into some beautifully and thoughtfully designed accommodation that provides for a truly secluded holiday experience. The barn is set in several acres of private woodland, protecting it from any outside influence that could spoil the peace, and is two miles from the nearest village giving it easy access by car to the local shops for provisions and entertainment. Thorney Mire has been praised for the quality of its cuisine above all else, especially its interesting and varied breakfast menu.
Tower House in Wakefield is another of the small boutique hotels in Yorkshire that happens to be rich in local history. This time the history comes in the form of the design of each bedroom, which depict an era of Pontefract’s history each and come with small informative booklets designed to give guests an understanding of the history of the area. Just as you would in any other luxury hotel, here you’ll find soft fluffy towels and bathrooms as well as scented cosmetics in the bathroom. Unlike other luxury hotels, however, the owners will give you a personal walking tour around Pontefract for the sort of truly unique experience you couldn’t find anywhere else.
Size doesn’t always mean luxury, so don’t be fooled by the sheer size of a manor house hotel; sometimes the best things come in small packages, after all.