After a week’s camping, culminating in a hard night’s partying, we were ready for four walls and a roof, a bath and a proper bed.
It wasn’t time for home yet, but lucky for us we had been invited to stay at Ox Pasture Hall, a country hotel set in the North York Moors National Park, just a couple of miles from Scarborough.
After arriving we were shown to our room, a luxury suite located in a secluded corner with a spacious living area, bedroom and bathroom. The fresh flowers were a lovely touch, but my fatigued body was most drawn to the huge bed, bath and thick white dressing gown.
After settling in we made our way to the lounge for afternoon tea (£15 per person), a treat of prawn, cucumber and ham sandwiches, freshly made cakes and still-warm scones served with clotted cream and jam.
Our sweet tooths satisfied, we headed back to the room where I had a long bath before wrapping myself in the cosy dressing gown and curling up in front of the TV. Ah, the basic luxuries and simple pleasures of life you appreciate after a week under canvas!
Looking out of the sash windows over fields and woodland, it was a blissful afternoon. Before we knew it, it was time for our evening meal and at the courtyard restaurant we were shown to a table overlooking the pretty front garden.
We began with chicken roulade and homemade cheese and chive bread. Our starters were pan fried mackerel with new potatoes and shaved fennel (£6.95) and confit duck salad and duck liver parfait with cherry sorbet (£8.95).
My main course was braised pork belly with savoy cabbage, celeriac and apple (£14.95) while my husband had a mini beef fillet and brisket of beef served alongside mash potato, mushroom duxelle and baby turnip and carrot (£23.50). We were both really impressed with the way the meat was cooked – to melt-in-your-mouth perfection, and the mister is quite fussy about his beef – and compiled in a dish with just the right amount of imagination and flair.
We barely had room for a fourth course but we’d enjoyed the meal so far so much we didn’t want to miss out on dessert. Pudding was preceded by strawberry consummate, then I had Eton mess with strawberry ice cream (£6.50) while he got to eat again his favourite cake from afternoon tea. It was part of a selection of spoon-sized chocolate and pistachio desserts and raspberry mille feuille (£7.95).
We were incredibly impressed with the meal. Taste and presentation were excellent and we both agreed it was a contender – if not winner – for the best we’d ever had.
As a whole, the hotel’s location and approach are sure to encourage relaxation and a laid-back pace of life. Set in 17 acres, it’s such a quiet, peaceful place. Our room was quite new and there seems to be ongoing work to improve the hotel, but not so much that it takes away from the building’s rustic charm or stops it feeling like a boutique home from home.
Two tiny (constructive) criticisms resulting from our stay. We weren’t offered help with getting our bags to the room, and although we usually decline at hotels anyway, it might be valued by other guests. We also struggled to connect to the wifi – when I rang reception they said our room might be out of range – but being out of touch is not altogether a bad thing in helping you switch off when you’re away from it all.
Ox Pasture is really well set up for weddings and they host 100 a year. They can cater for up to 150 guests for a wedding breakfast but manager Lynsey told me she likes to sit down with couples to get to know them and tailor their day – big or small – to match their wishes. The hotel has several licensed areas and, for me, a big selling point is their ability to offer outdoor wedding ceremonies, either in the courtyard or under a thatched gazebo at the rear, overlooking the large pond.
Wedding breakfasts (from £39.50 per person) and evening receptions usually take place in the purpose-built and self-contained Dovecote Suite but they’re happy to do something outside the norm, like afternoon tea or a barbecue buffet. There are big discounts for autumn, winter and spring and mid-week, Friday and Sunday weddings.
I have no hesitation in recommending a visit to Ox Pasture Hall. If you can’t stretch to a stay, do call in for a meal – ours was outstanding.
*Our overnight stay, afternoon tea and evening meal were complimentary for review purposes, but content is all my own and my opinions are always honest