From the second you arrive at Grantley Hall, you can’t help but relax. And I’m not exaggerating here: calming music plays via outdoor speakers in the car park to ensure you get in the mood as soon as you open the car door – and a bespoke spa-like scent wafts over you upon entering the 17th-century Palladian mansion.
There’s no queuing to check in here. Instead you’re guided straight to a lounge next to the main bar; brought an arrival drink of your choice (champagne, natch); and a member of staff joins you on the sofas to talk you through your stay – and all the many options you have for, well, relaxing. Meanwhile your car is parked and bags taken to your room. The whole process is so seamless even the most highly strung City exec can’t help but be unwound.
This little vignette serves as an example of the Grantley Hall approach: take pretty much any experience you’ve encountered at a hotel before, and then polish it until it’s perfect.
Of course, this hasn’t happened overnight; £72m of investment and four years of renovation go a long way. Since reopening in 2019, it has been lauded as one of the best hotels in the UK – and for good reason.
They call Yorkshire ‘God’s Own Country’. Well, we think we’ve found his hotel.
A tasty proposition
There are just 47 rooms at Grantley Hall yet eight different places to eat. That’s a hell of a ratio. And we’re not including the wine-tasting room in this line-up. Getting around them all is a challenge in a long weekend, but definitely one to relish.
At the top of the tree is Shaun Rankin’s Michelin-starred flagship. Rankin spent his early years growing up in North Yorkshire and left when he was 16 to become a pro chef.
He’s now returned to his home county and added to the Yorkshire star tally with his ‘Taste of Home’ menu. Everything is sourced within a 30-mile radius of the hotel – much from its own kitchen garden – with the exception of the fish, a caveat we’ll allow this far from the coast.
It is a tour de force of modern British cooking – and is crowned with Rankin’s famous Great British Menu-winning treacle tart and clotted cream masterpiece.
Elsewhere on campus highlights include pan-Asian 88 with a matching cocktail bar, and Fletcher’s restaurant in the Queen Anne wing of the Hall – old-school Brit hits.
All evenings must end at Norton’s, though – the hotel’s grand bar where the wood panelling is as rich as the whisky offering.
Even the water is good at Grantley Hall – still or sparkling, it’s infinite and free, sourced from a spring on the estate. The same water is used throughout the hotel – from the cedar hot tub to the central heating system.
If a stroll around Grantley Hall’s English Heritage-listed Japanese garden doesn’t do the trick, then your next stop for R&R is the Three Graces Spa.
Offering treatments from Ila and Natura Bissé, the spa is also home to an 18-metre indoor swimming pool, indoor-to-outdoor hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam room and snow room, experience shower, relaxation room and outdoor terrace. And – crucially – waiter service. (This isn’t some holier-than-thou cucumber water sitch.)
There’s also a state-of-the-art gym that should help balance out the inevitable overindulgence enjoyed at Shaun Rankin’s.
Of course, if you’re lucky enough to stay in a suite, some of that spa experience comes to you – courtesy of your own steam room. The Presidential Suite also has its own four-stool bar, and a Bechstein baby grand piano with a self-playing system. The walls are adorned with large pastoral oil paintings; find the remote control, though, and you’ll discover that all four paintings can scroll away at the press of a button to reveal flat-screen TVs.
This place is all about the details. There’s a pillow menu (from hypoallergenic to deluxe maternity); a robe menu (heavy, waffle or bamboo), and, naturally, the drinks menu (a bottle of Ruinart while you lounge on the crushed velvet chaise longue, sir?) But what really sets Grantley Hall apart is the people.
The staff are knowledgeable, attentive, charismatic and have such obvious admiration for the hotel, they positively brim over with it. In many cases, this is because they choose to live here, too – in a separate complex purpose built to ease in those on probation or house staff on a longer term basis with subsidised rent. We learnt from one waiter that they even get to ride the horses from the stables. It’s a clever and kind scheme that clearly fosters both retention and loyalty. And it’s this loyalty that helps to elevate every element of your stay here.
As we returned to our room on our final night, the lights were dimmed, Classic FM playing, eye masks placed on the bed, and instead of a mint, a poem lay on the pillow. The words of Etienne de Grellet read: “Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness I can show, Let me do it now.” It could easily have been the motto for Grantley Hall.
Rooms at Grantley Hall start from £450 per room, per night including breakfast. For more information, see grantleyhall.co.uk