At first, you may not know what to make of Grantley Hall. Is it a stately countryside stay, a glitzy resort, a wellness retreat or a foodie haven? Luckily, this description-defying pad is all of the above, thanks to its three restaurants, highfalutin’ fitness centre and serene spa with two swimming pools. There’s even a va-va-voom nightclub, Valeria’s. And though the lavish interiors wouldn’t be out of place in a Mayfair members’ club, Grantley Hall’s heart is pure Yorkshire. The pride of place is evident in the lovingly restored original features, the playful ‘Taste of Home’ menu by local boy Shaun Rankin and the warm-as-a-cuppa welcomes.
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A welcome bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates on arrival
Check-in is from 3pm and check-out is at 11am. You’re welcome to use the spa an hour before check-in and an hour after check-out.
Double rooms from $526.61 (£385), including tax at 5 per cent.
Rates include a daily breakfast in Fletchers restaurant. You can choose from the continental buffet laden with cereals, fruit and home-baked treats or opt for à-la-carte items like eggs cooked to order or the full English.
We’re not sure we know of another hotel where you can run on an underwater treadmill, sleep in an altitude chamber that mimics oxygen levels at Everest base camp and have your bone density scanned by a 3-D machine. But that’s all possible at the high-octane Elite fitness centre headed by Duncan Roy, the record-holding Atlantic rower. For the more amateur athlete, there are group fitness classes: Pilates, spinning and yoga too.
At the hotel
State-of-the-art fitness centre with cryotherapy chamber and altitude training, 30 acres of manicured parkland, English Heritage-listed Japanese garden, wellies to borrow, free WiFi throughout, free valet parking. In rooms: Damson gin on arrival, free soft drinks and snacks from the minibar, raincoat to borrow, plug adaptors and a surprise departure gift.
Our favourite rooms
Each room is decorated in elegant muted tones with a king-size bed, plush carpeting and marble ensuite as standard issue. We’re partial to the Executive Rooms in the original 17th-century hall, which have period fireplaces and a romantic window seat. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the one with the enormous copper bath tub.
This is no mere pool. It’s more like an enormous Roman bathhouse, thanks to a marble-clad atrium, columns and cloistered ceiling that surround the 18m heated indoor swimming pool lined with heated beds. The second, adults-only pool leads to a hot tub and outdoor terrace.
The serene Three Graces spa is becoming a destination in itself. You could spend an entire day here sampling the Ila and Natura Bissé face and body treatments, then skipping from sauna to steam room to snow room to hydrotherapy pool. The boundary-pushing treatment menu also has reiki, reflexology, crystal healing and massages for mothers-to-be.
Grantley Hall contains many multitudes, so you’ll want to be ready for any kind of adventure: sturdy boots for the Dales’ twisty terrain, lots of Lycra for the fitness centre, prim collars for afternoon tea and a splash of sparkle for evenings in Valeria’s.
All public areas on the ground floor and the gardens are designed to be wheelchair accessible; there are two adapted bedrooms and lift access in the Fountains Wing.
The hotel only accepts children over the age of eight. Babysitting is available for £15 an hour – you’ll need to give at least three days’ notice and be home by midnight.
You bet. The new wing of the hotel was built to BREEAM gold standard, water comes from the hotel’s own borehole and all the lightbulbs are energy-efficient. They’ve made a real effort to reduce single-use plastics and you’ll only find glass straws in the bar. If you hear a buzzing sound in the gardens, it’s because they’ve been planted with flowers that attract local pollinators and other wildlife. The hotel has plenty of Yorkshire pride too – all the suppliers and almost all of the staff are local lads and lasses.
For a very special occasion, book the Chef’s Table in the kitchen at Shaun Rankin. You’ll have a dedicated sommelier, a specially designed tasting menu and wine pairings.
You won’t want to be underdressed among Grantley’s grand fireplaces, high ceilings and opulent interiors – bring your finest and you’ll fit right in.
While you can treat your body like a temple in the fitness centre and the spa, all asceticism flies out the window when it comes to food and drink. After all, you’re in the home of battered puds, Wensleydale cheese and coma-inducing Sunday roasts. There are three restaurants to pick from; Fletchers serves modern British fare with a mild French accent – expect delicious steaks, delicate fish dishes and locally sourced seafood. Fun-loving and flashy EightyEight is housed in the new glass-ceilinged wing, with a pan-Asian menu, an extensive cocktail list and DJs on weekends. The fine-dining destination is Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall (currently holding a Michelin star), where the celebrity chef is getting back to his Yorkshire roots in style. The dining room is certainly grand – white tablecloths, delicate duck-egg-blue walls and a glittering glass chandelier – but Rankin’s ‘Taste of Home’ tasting menu is pure fun. Haute takes on his childhood comfort foods include a starter of bread, butter, dripping and beef tea, a cheese and tomato sandwich and scampi with seaweed. Herbs and vegetables are grown on-site in the kitchen garden, meat comes from nearby farms and fresh seafood is from the Yorkshire coast. It's understandably very popular, so be sure to reserve a table when you book your stay.
Grantley Hall was never going to be that kind of country-house hotel. You know, the kind that doesn’t have a pulse past 9pm. The Norton Bar’s interiors remind you of the rich history of the building you’re in – it’s all wood panelling, saffron-velvet sofas and leather-bound tomes. Choose from over 100 different kinds of cocktail, hole up by the fireplace when the weather’s being British or take your botanical gin fizz or dram outside to the sun-warmed terrace in the summer months. Hearty snacks are available too, like club sandwiches and local charcuterie.
EightyEight’s bar is much more modern and has a spacious outdoor terrace overlooking the ornamental Japanese garden. There’s more than a touch of theatre to these Asian-inspired cocktails, like the Autumn Sakura made with Bulleit bourbon.
If you’re making a night of it, don your gladrags and head to Valeria’s, the subterranean champagne and cocktail bar. Order a Valeria Fizz and hit the dance floor until the early hours (don’t worry, light sleepers, the joint is totally soundproofed and far from the bedrooms).
Breakfast is from 7.30–10.30am; afternoon tea is 2–5pm; supper is served 6–10pm; Valeria’s stays open to the early hours.
The 24-hour room-service menu has a selection of sandwiches, steaks, burgers, pizza, pasta and desserts, as well as cocktails from Norton Bar’s menu.
This stately home is in the Yorkshire countryside on the eastern fringes of the Dales national park, just five miles from the historic city of Ripon.
Technically, the closest airport is Leeds Bradford but if you’re coming from outside the UK, you’re more likely to land in Manchester or London’s leading hubs, Heathrow or Gatwick.
Thanks to a new LNER service, you can get to York station from London’s Kings Cross in under two hours. York, which also serves Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds and other UK cities, is just under an hour’s drive from Grantley Hall – the hotel can arrange free car transfers with advance notice.
The concierge can organise day trips to all the local sights, but if you’d like to explore independently, you’ll need your own wheels. Once you arrive, there’s free valet parking on site.
Coming by chopper? There’s a handy helipad in the grounds.
Worth getting out of bed for
When a hotel is stuffed to the gills with this many diversions and delights, it seems silly to venture too far until you’ve made the most of them. So, eat your fill at Fletchers, pull on a pair of the hotel’s wellies for a stomp around the sweeping grounds and a turn in the English Heritage-listed Japanese garden. Then, swim luxuriant lengths in the indoor pool, get gently pummelled by the excellent therapists in the Three Graces Spa and catnap on a heated sunlounger. Later, take afternoon tea in the drawing room, munch on miso aubergine at EightyEight and water down your whisky in the wood-panelled Norton Bar.
Once you’re ready to explore, make your first port of call the Unesco-protected Fountains Abbey. This romantic and atmospheric site combines crumbling monastic ruins, water gardens, statues, follies and a deer park, so it’s perfect for summer picnics. History buffs and literature lovers should hop to Castle Howard to see the fictional ‘Brideshead’, its 100 acres of parkland and arboretum. Though they may look like modern-art installations, the weird and wonderful formations at Brimham Rocks are naturally occurring. The craggy wonders are free to visit. Of course, if you prefer your nature even more rugged, Grantley Hall flirts with the Eastern fringes of the Yorkshire Dales – you can hike or bike for miles without seeing evidence of human life, save an Iron Age hill fort or two.
With spa dining, afternoon tea, three restaurants and two bars to choose from within Grantley’s stately walls, we can’t imagine you’d ever need to leave the premises to be fed and watered. However, if you happen to feel a hunger pang in happening Harrogate, there’s upscale pub grub at The Fat Badger and a comprehensive wine list at William & Victoria.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this all-singing, all-dancing hotel in Yorkshire and unpacked their damson gin and walking boots, a full account of their luxurious country break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Grantley Hall in Ripon…
Faced with the prospect of fixing up a dilapidated country pile, most people would sprint in the opposite direction: too enormous, too expensive, too terrifying. Luckily for us, Valeria Sykes was not so easily put off – the Barnsley-born septuagenarian happily sank £70 million into the restoration of Grantley Hall. She doesn’t have an ice cube’s chance in hell of seeing a return in her lifetime, so why do it? Because, as she says, she thought Yorkshire ‘deserved something nice’. You won’t have to wonder where the money went: there’s an Elite (in both name and nature) fitness centre equipped with enough high-spec kit to train a squadron of Olympians, a glass-roofed spa with an indoor swimming pool, a steam room, a sauna, a snow room (no idea) and five tricked-out treatment rooms. There are three whole restaurants, a stately wood-panelled bar, a champagne-swilling nightclub and a Japanese garden. We could go on, but suffice to say you can forget the travel Scrabble – months could pass in this racy, ritzy, ravishingly beautiful hotel before you’d ever get bored.