Stepping into the welcoming reception area of The Black Swan Hotel in Helmsley, on the edge of the North York Moors, was like stepping back in time. This 4-Star country boutique hotel, York’s Hotel of the Year for 2015, has a history dating back to the 15th Century.
I was invited to try the “Spoilt For Choice” package, and felt thoroughly spoilt throughout the duration of my stay thanks to the cosiness of the room, the quality of the food and the pleasantness of the staff. My overnight stay in the gorgeous settings of the Yorkshire countryside left me feeling truly refreshed and revived from London life.
The Black Swan’s interior is stylish and inviting and, whilst many of the original features, including several open fires and crooked dark oak beams remain, local materials and contemporary influences have been thoughtfully added to the hotel to complement the cosiness of a grand country home.
The exterior is no less inviting than the interior and has three distinct sections, Elizabethan, Georgian and Tudor; each of which have their own stories to tell.
The Elizabethan section is dates back to when The Black Swan was a coaching inn and a popular stop off on the route from Leeds to York. A hotel since the 18th Century, The Black Swan has being amazing guests with it’s award winning food offerings from the tearooms to the 3AA Rosette restaurant, ‘The Gallery’.
The Black Swan sits right in the heart of one of North Yorkshire’s prettiest market towns, Helmsley. Home to a 12th Century Castle, there’s also the Helmsley Walled Gardens to keep adventurers busy. Helmsley has the bonus of being located on the southern edge of the North York Moors National Park with miles of unspoilt countryside. It’s also part of the Cleveland Way a popular route for walkers which leads towards the beautiful Rievaulx Abbey.
You couldn’t find a better base for a day of adventuring in the Yorkshire Moors than The Black Swan in Helmsley.
Of the 45 bedrooms in The Black Swan Hotel, no two are the same.
The feature rooms are those found in the oldest part of the hotel, many of which look on to the beautiful market square in Helmsley. The rooms are bursting with character and charm and each one is unique.
Ours had some wonky flooring, creaky floorboards and exposed beams and was gorgeous. I love rooms full of character and this was exactly that.
Each feature room has been recently refurbished to very high standards and they’re all warm and homely. They’re exactly what I’d want my house in the countryside to look like and it would have been incredibly easy to stay wrapped up in the soft white dressing gowns under the duvet, reading the morning paper whilst breakfasting in bed.
The room we stayed in had different parts to it. A wardrobe area to the left, a hallway with a tray full of teas, coffee, biscuits and reading material, a spacious bedroom with a massive bed, TV, iPod dock, desk, dresser and two comfy chairs and a hallway leading to the big bathroom with Molton Brown toiletries and a large bath.
The Black Swan in Helmsley offers breakfast in bed for overnight guests which I opted for without having to give it a second thought. Simply mark your choices and desired breakfast time on the door-hanger supplied and leave it outside your door overnight.
Gourmet Food at The Black Swan
Yorkshire is renowned as being a country which produces some of the finest foods in the UK and nowhere is this recognised more than at the Black Swan hotel in Helmsley.
The Gallery restaurant in The Black Swan hotel sources ingredients for it’s delicious different dishes from a 30 mile radius of the hotel’s location wherever possible.
The 3 AA Rosette restaurant serves up outstanding plates of food, in an equally outstanding setting. Bright and airy, with views on to The Black Swan’s walled garden, the dining area is spacious enough that dining feels intimate, but cosy enough that there’s a lovely atmosphere.
Last November The Black Swan Hotel welcomed a new Head Chef, Patrick Bardoulet. He has held prestigious roles in a range of five star, Michelin stared restaurants, in the UK and abroad, for two decades. Brought up on a rural farmstead, he is enthused by the abundance of produce from field, farm and sea available in Yorkshire. A passion and enthusiasm which is reflected in the stunning dishes we were served as part of the tasting menu at The Black Swan.
Our Amuse Bouche, an almond and apricot couscous with duck and a tasty foam set the scene for the delicious, locally inspired menu we were about to be spoilt with.
The Amuse Bouche was followed by asparagus served with goats cheese curd encased in black onion seeds. We’d opted for the wine pairing and this was served with a lovely Australian white wine.
Next we were served a juicy scallop with cardamon infused carrot purée. Having been treated to incredible seafood in Scotland, the next person to serve me scallops was going to have to do so with some skill. I’m pleased to say that The Black Swan stood up to the challenge. Hands down best scallop I’ve ever eaten.
The fourth course, my favourite of the night on looks alone, was like summer on a plate. The seared foie gras with Black Swan granola, mango, flowers and herbs was refreshing and out of this world delicious. I could have quite happily eaten that time and time again. But had I, I would’ve missed out on the rest of the courses still to come…
The lamb loin with sweatbread, peas, broad beans and mushrooms was paired with a full-bodied red wine that perfectly complemented the lamb.
A cheese board is always a welcome dish in my opinion. Especially when they look as impressive as the cheese board we watched being prepared in front of us. We’d spent a lot of our meal up until then staring in awe at the cheese cart doing its rounds of the other diners’ tables and couldn’t wait until it was our turn. As the daughter of parents who own an award-winning deli, you have to go some to impressive me with cheese. The Black Swan’s selection was definitely impressive.
We opted for a little of everything and feasted on cheese from all over England and Europe and washed it down with port.
Pre dessert (best idea ever!), was an apple and vodka granita that perfectly cleansed the palate and left us ready for our last dish, a chocolate tart served with pistachio ice cream and a glass of rum.
Our foodie exploration around Yorkshire through the tasting menu had come to an end and, after a quick stroll around Helmsley, we retired to our lovely room before a day of exploring the countryside to walk off all that food!
The ‘Spoilt for choice’ package at The Black Swan Hotel consists of two indulgent offers to choose between:
- One night package including; a glass of rosé Tattinger Champagne & afternoon tea on the day of arrival, a three course dinner from the A La Carte menu and overnight accommodation in a classic bedroom with a full English breakfast – £235.00 per couple.
- Two night package including; a glass of rosé Tattinger Champagne & afternoon tea served on the day of arrival, a three course dinner from the A La Carte menu on the first night, dinner from the Chef’s Tasting Menu on the second night, overnight accommodation in a classic bedroom and a full English breakfast both mornings – £450 per couple.
Gourmet events coming soon:
July 16th – French Gourmet dinner
August 13th – Champange Tattinger Dinner
October 1st – Oktoberfest Dinner
November 26th – Game Dinner with Louis Latour
January 24th 2016 – Burns Night Dinner
Each price includes wines. Overnight accommodation for gourmet event guests is from £129 per room.