There are few finer things in life than filling your belly, having a cheeky postprandial, then waddling off upstairs to a soft bed rather than driving home in the dark. Here then, are some suggestions for top-class restaurants with rooms, all in stunning locations.
Loving the Lakes
You must have had your head under a rock if this place isn’t on your radar already. L’enclume featured recently on The Trip, a tragi-comic gastronomic journey undertaken by Messrs Coogan and Bryden. They riffed excruciatingly about whose Sean Connery impression was best whilst sampling Simon Rogan’s stunning eight-course tasting menu. How the waiting staff didn’t corpse is beyond me. Joking apart, this is serious cooking in a super-chic environment. Rogan and his crack team plunder his six acre farm for seasonal ingredients making good use of them in plates like kohlrabi baked in salt, smoked yolk, parsley and sea herbs, cream crowdie with Douglas fir and rhubarb and Gott’s Holker milk fed lamp, sheep’s milk curds, turnips. Bedrooms are elegant, quirkily individual and luxurious with sumptuous bathrooms, snowy towels and lovely views over the rolling hills.
Yorkshire Dales Delights
Frances Atkins is one of only six women to hold a Michelin star, and together with her husband runs the stunning Yorke Arms a stately, ivy-clad 18th century hunting lodge in spectacular Nidderdale. If these things matter to you, Giles Coren called the place ‘almost perfect’; I’m not going to argue with him. The beamed, light-filled dining room with its polished walnut, gleaming glassware, candles and snowy white linen promises a top-notch dinner, perhaps partridge, leek & bacon press with crab apple or seared tuna, chorizo & squid with aubergine relish & quails egg followed by saddle of venison, oxtail en croute with sweet potato puree, marinated raisins. Great use is made of seasonal ingredients – and you can’t get much more local than Frances’s organic garden for gooseberry peanut parfait, fool, lemon & mint. Rooms are classic, sophisticated and comfortable, one with an antique oak four poster, chandelier and stone fireplace, all with fabulous textiles and immaculate bathrooms with roll top baths.
Where better to fetch up on a sharp sunny winter’s day than the North Yorkshire Coast? Wrap up well and yomp along the endless beach at Sandsend – you can walk all the way to Whitby. And there’s no better place to get cosy than Woodlands a chic, stylish spot with more than a whiff of old-style glamour tucked into a deep wooded valley; kick back in a slipper bath with a glass of something chilled with views all the way to the sea before wafting down to sample talented young chef Alex Perkins’s fabulous dinners; fish-centric, of course, but with the likes of Barnsley chop, boulangere potatoes & devilled kidneys with nettle and mint sauce on the menu too. Finish off perhaps with creamed elderflower rice pudding with gooseberries before falling between Egyptian cotton sheets and into one of the sweetest night’s sleep you’ve had in a while.
Remote Country Pub
If innovative, exhilarating cutting edge cuisine is your bag, head for the Black Swan a cosy old village pub on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. It’s a family affair; The Banks’s have farmed here for generations, James is front of house and his brother Tommy is one of six – yes six – chefs working in a kitchen that truly deserves its recent Michelin star. The incongruity of sitting in an old-skool pub, complete with quarry tiled floor, open fire and battered oak tables eating exquisitely presented food is thrilling. Sample the delights of rabbit cannelloni with cauliflower, spinach and piccalilli, followed perhaps by Gareth Barlow’s Hebridean lamb four-ways with Dauphinoise potato sauce, Scottish Girolle mushrooms, baby gem and mint pickle. Or go for broke with the seven course tasting menu, a veritable feast that will have you glad you’ve booked a room. Overlooking the rolling landscape and utterly peaceful, four comfortable bedrooms have antique furniture, fat mattresses and fabulous linen, the bathrooms modern, spotless with cast iron baths and Molton Brown smellies. Top Tip; ask for the room with the free-standing antique bronze French bath – mais oui!
Ah. The Outer Hebrides. Where the empty west coast golden beaches stretch for miles and miles, the roaring Atlantic pounds away and if you’re lucky, you might spot a bottle nose dolphin or pilot whale. And if you’re clever, you’ve booked a table at Scarista House an elegant 18th century manse overlooking such a beach, where you’ll be welcomed like an old friend. A stiff G&T is taken in the first floor drawing room, which looks out to the stunning beach and that turquoise sea. It’s a proper ‘pinch me’ moment. The daily-changing menu is set, and following a couple of calm days will always include some form of seafood from the local boat, perhaps halibut simply cooked accompanied with champagne and chive sauce and garden vegetables. You might have started with Black Ale blinis with Uist peat-smoked salmon and pink grapefruit vinaigrette; puddings are simple but delicious, perhaps fresh berry pavlova or summer pudding. Bedrooms are comfortably furnished with good beds and antiques, loads of books and original oils. Children are welcome; cots and small beds can be assembled in parent’s rooms, baby monitors are supplied and there’s a sitter on tap so you can have much-deserved child-free time.