Swinton Park, Masham, North Yorkshire
What a dramatic entrance. As you head along the driveway you suddenly spot a baronial, grey stone pile with turrets and battlements, standing imposingly amid 250 acres of parkland full of deer (don’t despair, it has another 20,000 acres to roam about in too). Once inside, high ceilings, huge windows, dark panelled wood walls and ancestral portraits lining the wide corridors, mean it feels like stepping into an old-fashioned aristocratic world, but not in a bad way. Crackling fires fill vast grates, squashy sofas invite hours of curled up reading, the 32 bedrooms are large, comfortable and handsome. Children and dogs are welcomed, nay positively encouraged – and there’s much to do. The hotel happily provides a trail and quiz through the grounds, there’s a games room, playground, riding and birds of prey to gawp at. But, most exciting of all, is the multi-million pound spa and country club, offering a sleek and modern contrast to the main building with its indoor and outdoor pools, steam and sauna, excellent Elemis and Bamford treatments and classes that include yoga, spinning and pilates. After all that exercise, head to The Terrace, the laid back, open-all day country club eatery, offering cappuccinos and brunch in the morning all the way through to cocktails and a relaxed supper in the evening. For more formal fare, there’s Samuel’s inside the main building, a hushed dining room that serves up local produce-inspired dishes and based heavily on the hotel’s own four-acre walled garden. And all this just over a two-hour direct train ride from London, it’s a no-brainer.
BOOK IT: Overnight spa breaks start from £405 for two people sharing a double room swintonestate.com