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REVIEW | The Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey – The Yorkshire Dales

By Lyndsey Thomas | 10th May 2019

Why I Love The Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey
The Devonshire Arms at picture-perfect Bolton Abbey on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales is one of Yorkshire’s most fabulous and intimate places to stay. It’s old school, luxurious, and a proper treat for anyone looking for a romantic 24 hours.

For me, the hotel’s location always congers up scenes from the original hit musical; Mary Poppins, where Dick-Van-Dyke chalks a perfect picture of the English countryside and they all dive in for a day out in the country.


Worth getting a babysitter?
Oh absolutely. Drop them off at the grandparents as early as you can to allow for a day working up an appetite with long walks around the Bolton Abbey estate.


What to expect at The Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey
Quintessential luxury old-English hospitality in the most perfect of country river-side settings. Four poster beds, charming corridors with creaky floorboards leading to lots of nooks and crannies, expensive flock wallpaper, roaring fires and guests in designer wellies and Barbour jackets.

A hefty bill at the end if you are going all out with fine-dining and a visit to the hotel’s spa. Yes, this is certainly one to save for those special occasions but you won’t leave disappointed I promise.

Value for money – 7/10

The Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey Hotel Overview

Open ‘The Dev’s’ main door to a small entrance featuring neatly lined up wellington boots along the wall, all for use by the hotel’s guests and the first tell-tale sign that this establishment caters for the well-heeled who like to spend their time here walking, fishing and shooting.


It’s the perfect location to do all three thanks to its enviable location on The Duke of Devonshire’s estate by the fast-flowing river Wharfe and a location that has a long-standing reputation for being home to one of the country’s most stunning grouse shoots.


But perhaps what is most unique about The Devonshire Arm’s location is the county hotel’s enviably close proximity to the ruins of Bolton Priory. A 12th-century Augustinian monastery now known as Bolton Priory. The priory, closed in the 1539 Dissolution of the Monasteries ordered by King Henry VIII, is just a 10-minute walk from The Devonshire Arms and is one of Yorkshire’s leading historic highlights.


Beyond the chocolate-box façade of the 16th Century, stone-built coaching inn guests are greeted by a regal fireplace and roaring fire in colder months, well-worn solid oak floorboards, and artwork from Chatsworth’s Devonshire Collection, one of the finest private art collections in Europe.


Check-in takes place at a solid oak antique desk next to a stone fireplace, which is far less formal and hotel-like than a purpose-built reception area – adding to the luxury home-away-from-home feel, which continues throughout the public areas of The Devonshire Arms.


Wander across the uneven floors, past the windows that look out onto a beautifully well-kept Italian courtyard garden and choose from one of several areas to enjoy tea, quaff champagne or sip cocktails. A beautiful black grand piano takes centre stage by the entrance to the dog room – my personal favourite – leading through to the grand staircase, which leads the way to the guest rooms housed in the original building.


The Devonshire Arms is also made up of a much more recent building added in the 1980s, which also houses a number of guest rooms. Whilst I expect they are equally as well appointed and beautifully decorated, I was overjoyed to have been given one of the guestrooms in the original building for my stay.


Our Room at The Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey

Down an irregular, charming little corridor at the top of the grand staircase was our room for the night – Gherico – one of the hotel’s Superior Rooms – named after the local family connections. It was all that I hoped for from The Devonshire Arms and more.


It took me a few seconds to work out what the three-step wooden ladder with a handrail was for – I realised quite quickly that is was to help me get into the stunning, antique oak and a heavy draped four-poster bed that took centre stage in the middle of the spacious room. A bed that immediately provoked memories of a childhood fairy-tale I loved so very much – The Princess and the Pea.


The décor in my room was a bold mix of expensive, clashing chintzy wallpaper and fabrics, complemented with lavish pieces of antique furniture, old books, lamps and walls adorned with original artwork framed in ornate gold frames. In a modern hotel room, none of this would work. But here at The Devonshire Arms – in this stately bedroom fit for any guest of a Duke and Duchess, with its original sash windows looking out over the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales, it all worked so perfectly.


There was an array of complimentary teas and refreshments, an excellent coffee machine a selection of snacks in my room. Robes and an iron and ironing board were hidden in the beautiful antique free-standing wardrobe and a separate seating area made up of a small sofa and an upright chair created a wonderful little nook for quiet reading time. A good-size TV with an array of channels sat next to a well-lit dressing table, and guests are able to borrow DVDs from a wide range of titles from reception. Room service is available too.


My bathroom was warm, spacious and spotless. Traditional fixtures and fittings, large fluffy towels, Molton Brown toiletries and a good power-shower featured in the peach-painted room.


The Spa at The Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey
The Devonshire Arms Spa is small but well-formed. Probably not the first spa I’d choose for a girly spa day, but it certainly makes for a great added extra treat if you’re staying overnight here.


The spa is located across the main road from the hotel – me wandering across the road in my slippers and dressing gown on a cold, damp, dark night in November was probably a disturbing spectacle for anyone driving past, but once you’re in, it’s a lovely little oasis of calm and the perfect place for some pre-dinner, post-hike R&R.


Take your cossi for a dip in the swimming pool and a soak in the hot tub. And if you really want to get down and dirty, slather each other in muds in the Rasul Mud Chamber Experience.


I was booked in for a pre-dinner 6pm treatment. For early Friday evening, the spa was pleasantly quiet and Mr T had the swimming pool all to himself whilst I was whisked upstairs for The Outer Glow – a top-to-toe buffing and polishing, exfoliating, invigorating, skin-softening, refreshing 45 minutes of absolute bliss and well worth the £60.

Dinner at The Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey
Eating is at the heart of an overnight stay at the Devonshire Arms. We were booked into the hotel’s 4AA Rosette fine-dining restaurant – The Burlington. Headed up by award-winning chef Paul Leonard, dining here is nothing short of a treat and certainly a pleasurable experience for anyone who appreciates a formal yet friendly dining experience in a classic country house setting.


Much of the produce served in The Burlington Restaurant is from the hotel’s kitchen garden or reared on the Bolton Abbey Estate so you can expect to savour an exquisite tasting menu made up of fresh, seasonal plates of Yorkshire fare. Trout from the river, game from across the estate, duck and of course locally reared Yorkshire lamb.


Our evening together kicked off perfectly with champagne – Laurent Perrier Rose of course. We cosied up on a Chesterfield in the cocktail lounge whilst one of the attentive waiters talked us through the tasting menu. We were then escorted to our table in The Burlington Restaurant – a space that very much reminded me of a mini Gordon Ramsey at Claridge’s in London – old-world sophistication, a tinkering pianist and couples dressed smartly for dinner. I was disappointed not to see crisp white linen covering the heavy Mahogany dining furniture – my only qualm.


The tasting menu of no less than eight courses was served at just the right pace and each and every plate, from the ‘snacks’ right through to our deconstructed dessert was delicately balanced in flavour and presented with detail and sophistication. With a wine list as long as my arm and then some, and a cheeseboard that my cheese-loving husband spent most of the evening gawping at – dinner at The Burlington Restaurant did not disappoint.


Breakfast at The Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey
Breakfast was everything you would expect from a hotel of this calibre. It’s served on crisp white linen-covered tables in the bright and airy conservatory overlooking the beautifully manicured Italian Gardens. We both ordered the Full English then perused the table of continental breakfast offerings before poking through the morning papers slurping coffee.


The fresh, locally sourced ingredients to include a tasty sausage and wonderfully runny yellow yolks were well cooked and delicious. Breakfast at ‘The Dev’ certainly set us up nicely ahead of a brisk walk in the Yorkshire Dales on a cold November day.


What it costs:
A luxury double room on a Friday or Saturday night the main house with four poster bed, including breakfast costs from £282 per room.

If you stay midweek prices are as little as £139 per room.

The Burlington Experience – a 7-course tasting menu in The Burlington Restaurant costs £85 per person and the a la carte menu is £75 per person (not including wine or service).


Hello James! FREE luxury transfer service at The Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey

Dine at The Burlington and The Devonshire Arms will go the extra mile to get you home for FREE! If you are planning on a special dinner with friends and want to relax and enjoy some fine wines, The Devonshire Arms offer a complimentary ‘Home James’ service if you are dining at The Burlington.


They will collect you and up to three friends from home, bring you to The Devonshire Arms, and return you home at the end of your evening. This fab service for anyone living within a 10-mile radius of the hotel is available for guests dining at The  Burlington in one party on one evening, Tuesday-Sunday with no minimum spend. To book call 01756 71044. Terms & Conditions apply.


To find out more visit: www.thedevonshirearms.co.uk

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