Daniel Bailey takes his pampered pet pooch to the delightful town of Helmsley for a weekend of walking, relaxation and fabulous food.
‘Snoopy will love this’, I said to my wife as we prepared for the short trip up north for our dog-friendly stay in Yorkshire.
Sadly there are many occasions when we have to leave our pet whippet behind, but this was a great opportunity to bring him along so that he too could enjoy the holiday experience.
The Black Swan is a centuries-old coaching inn transformed into an impressive boutique hotel in the centre of Helmsley, a pretty market town right on the doorstep of the North Yorkshire Moors.
Conveniently located in the Market Place, this 45-bed hotel with thriving restaurant and tearooms is an ideal venue if you’re looking to enjoy the mixture of a countryside jaunt along with the hustle and bustle aspects of town life.
Before checking in, we took time to visit the idyllic landscaped gardens of 18th Century Rievaulx Terrace, where you can get a fantastic panoramic view of the ruin that was once Rievaulx Abbey.
Despite the driving rain, we enjoyed the short woodland walk along the Terrace, admiring the animal art sculptures hiding in the trees as well as the ancient Tuscan and Ionic Temples in the gardens.
After walking up a thirst our first stop on arrival at the hotel was, of course, the Cygnet Bar.
I’m always cautious when taking ‘Snoops’ into public buildings as the question ‘Is he/isn’t he allowed in here?’ often lingers, but at the Black Swan we immediately felt at ease as our boy was made to feel more than welcome.
And it wasn’t long before he was wagging his tail with delight as along with our beers came a large bowl of fresh water and some scrumptious biscuits for our pampered pooch.
We needn’t have worried about being in the minority either as we were joined in the bar by several dog owners and their four-legged friends popping in for a drink and bite to eat.
The Black Swan isn’t all about dogs though as it’s also built up a reputation for its fabulous fine dining offerings in The Gallery, the hotel’s plush and spacious 3AA rosette restaurant.
We were booked in for the seven-course taster menu, exquisitely put together by Head Chef Alan O’Kane who is well known for creating his dishes using the best local produce.
Fermented bread with beef butter, Orange Cod and Texel Lamb rump were just three of the delicious offerings on Alan’s fantastic menu.
It should be noted that you can’t take dogs into The Gallery, but as long as you are happy to leave your pet in the comfort of the bedroom you can rest assured they’ll be spoiled rotten with their specially-provided blanket and, you guessed it, more biscuits!
There’s plenty of smart furnishings in the hotel, which effortlessly oozes ‘olde-worlde’ charm with its low-beamed ceilings and huge fireplaces, carefully combining its classic design with a sprinkle of impressive antiques.
Rooms are stylish and fresh with big sleigh beds and there’s also a lovely secluded garden at the back with several seating areas providing a peaceful retreat for guests.
Breakfast is also taken seriously with a superb choice and after polishing off a full Yorkshire and delicious Eggs Benedict, it was time to hit the road.
Leaving such a great hotel is always sad, but an upturn in the weather meant we couldn’t miss out on a trip to Nunnington Hall and a morning saunter through its colourful wildflower meadows.
About a 15-minute drive from Helmsley, this picturesque Yorkshire manor house showcases some interesting exhibitions and has a beautiful organic garden which is well worth a visit, even if it’s just to admire the stunning and incredibly tame peacocks.
The Black Swan is the perfect hub for visiting North Yorkshire’s best beauty spots, from the country parklands of the Duncombe Park estate to the wild moorlands of the National Park.
Helmsley itself has a lot to offer too, such as its own Arts Centre, medieval castle, bird of prey centre plus many boutiques, galleries and shops including Hunter’s Deli and Helmsley Wines.
And if you want to venture further afield, you’ve got the beautiful Yorkshire coastline not too far away as well as the historic city of York and spa town of Harrogate.
If you’ve never visited any of these places before I strongly recommend you do.
But whether it’s a weekend away, a fabulous fine dining experience or just a pint and a packet of crisps with the dog you’re looking for, I’d definitely recommend the Black Swan.
The Black Swan, Market Place, Helmsley, North Yorkshire, YO62 5BJ
Bed and breakfast prices from £120 per room per night
Dinner, bed and breakfast from £210 per room per night
Tel: 01439 770466
Dog-friendly stay costs £235 per couple (plus dog) and includes
- Champagne and dog treats in room
- Voucher with The Phodographer, which includes a photo shoot for up to three dogs
- Dinner and full Yorkshire breakfast
- Available Sunday to Thursday only until 23rd December 2017.