Think the South of England has it sewn up when it comes to hotels offering that quintessential country house cool? Think again, as the North is on the verge of stealing that accolade — and its trump card lies in the form of Rudding Park hotel.
Minutes from the A1(M) and the spa town of Harrogate, this elegant country house, set in 300 acres of woodland, launched a new spa development in May that’s already winning awards.
As well as giving the luxury hotel a fresh lease of life, it’s three floors of heaven for wellness junkies.
The rooftop spa features swaying grasses, saunas infused with essential oils, steam rooms, circulation-boosting foot baths and a bar — because there’s something wonderfully decadent about indulging in Jacuzzi and champagne bubbles at the same time.
Outside, the tranquil spa garden has been landscaped by BBC Radio 4 gardening expert Matthew Wilson, and features an in/out hydrotherapy infinity pool, saunas and sunbeds.
Attention to detail is paramount, from the retro resort prints in the changing rooms to the natural spring water in the pools which is drawn straight from the grounds, in keeping with Harrogate’s spa heritage.
When we visited, it was warm enough to lie in the woodland garden after being pummelled in the hydrotherapy pool, although I’d be happy to spa in the rain in these surroundings.
The hotel’s interior is unique and contemporary too; bold splashes of colour, tactile fabrics and bespoke furnishings add warmth and character.
Accommodation is either in the main house or the spa wing; book one of the spa rooms and you’ll get complimentary access to the roof top spa and garden, as well as the indoor pool, juniper log sauna and bucket shower.
As well as the spa just a few steps from your private garden, the 42 square metre rooms feature super king size beds. Most rooms have spa baths, some even have their own saunas. There’s also underfloor heating in the bathrooms, along with Molton Brown toiletries.
Regarded one of the best places to dine in Harrogate, the 2 AA rosette Clocktower restaurant bar serves modern British food with a local twist (75 miles to be exact).
A must-try is the Yorkshire tapas, made for sharing with Yorkshire fettle cheese, east coast cod and smoked salmon fishcakes.
Alternatively, the contemporary Horto restaurant is located in the spa wing, Horto (Latin for kitchen garden), offers great breakfasts and, in the evenings, an a la carte of nine-course tasting menu with wine pairings — contact them about any dietary requirements 48 hours before arriving.
For that authentic ‘plot to plate’ experience, most of the ingredients used at this 3 AA rosette eatery are seasonal and come from the hotels’ sprawling kitchen garden.
With service, luxury facilities and now a spa to rival the best hotels on the planet, Rudding Park is definitely worth the drive.