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REVIEW | The Feversham Arms & Verbana Spa in Helmsley

By Lyndsey Thomas – 15th January 2018

When the female bartender at an elegant country boutique hotel in a picture-perfect North Yorkshire village whips up a Slingsby & Fever Tree, an Espresso Martini and a French 75 that Dale DeGroff would be proud of, you know you’re in for a proper treat. We landed at The Feversham Arms – fondly known as ‘The Fev’ by those in the know – at around 5pm one Friday in November. It was a dark and dreary eve but that only added to the excitement of our girly night away.

The Feversham Arms – Setting the Scene

We pulled up outside a Victorian-era façade featuring plenty of chimney pots, sash windows and a welcoming entrance right out of Dickens, lit up from the ground by warm golden lights that illuminated the stonework with a honey glow. The imposing Parish church in the background added yet more romanticism to The Fev’s setting in the posh rural village of Helmsley on the South-West edge of the North York Moors.

It’s all so textbook country-perfect. It screams style and sophistication as soon as one steps over the fresh-hold and my little sister, my mummy and I knew instantly that we were in for a treat. We were also ready to add a little rock ‘n’ roll to this very refined establishment.  God help the staff and the guests. Neither of my fellow females were having any of it when I suggested that we head straight for the outdoor heated pool.

In fairness, it was bloody parky, but the pool looked so inviting and I’d spent the previous week daydreaming about us all quaffing champers in the outdoor hot tub before dinner. They won. The bar it was. Off we went to get our glad rags on for our 7.30pm dinner reservation in The Weathervane – the hotel’s onsite fine-dining restaurant.

Stepping inside The Feversham Arms

It took us a while to gather our bearings inside ‘The Fev’. The place is a juxtaposition of old and new. Traditional and modern. Old Stone and sparkling glass. A rabbit warren of rooms and corridors – a long, uneven-floored corridor featuring artwork on the walls, which lead to a modern glass walkway that connects the main building to the hotel’s spa.

The contemporary reception area at the rear boasts a beautiful winding iron and solid wood staircase whilst the original staircase still takes its original position just inside the front entrance of the hotel. The place is deceptively large and after a few of those incredible cocktails, too much champagne, wine with dinner and a nightcap or three, locating one’s room is somewhat of an adventure.

It’s one of those places where it’s really quite easy to end up back where one started after one too many. Yes, that’s first-hand experience.

Let’s have a look around…

A room for three at The Feversham Arms?

Oh goodness yes. Plenty. A junior suite had been made up to accommodate the three of us in two rooms, with the living area featuring a made-up, extremely comfy-looking double sofa bed, which lead through double doors to a spacious bedroom and into an enormous bathroom.

The bedroom booty includes Temple Spa toiletries, fluffy dressing gowns and slippers, a luxury tea and coffee tray, water bottles and all the other loot that one would expect in a luxury boutique hotel. French doors opened out onto a walkway and steps leading down to the pool area allowed us easy access to the pool in our dressing gowns and slippers.

The king-size bed in the bedroom area was made up with crisp white cotton – my only gripe of the entire experience at The Feversham Arms was the bed. A bed is a very subjective matter of course – some prefer them hard, some prefer them soft, but I would have liked to have seen a mattress topper on top of the very mediocre mattress. The bed lacked luxury. Nothing dreamy and cloud-like about it. I want to sink into my hotel bed. Still, we drank far too many cocktails so I’d have slept happily on a washing line that night.

Posh Nosh at The Feversham Arms

We tucked into The Seasonal Menu in the Weathervine Restaurant at The Fev. Between us we pretty much sampled every non-vegetarian dish on the small but perfectly formed menu.

The space is modern and intimate with a part glass roof and low lighting, making for a very romantic experience, unless you are sat next the three of us on our 2nd bottle of expensive Champagne that is. Tables were well spaced out and boasted white linen and wine glasses that I approved of. I’m very fussy about my wine glasses. I kicked off with Salmon – Salmon mi cuit (meaning ‘half-cooked’). Braised Octopus and Oyster Veloute. It was nothing short of divine. Visually it was striking. The texture of the rubbery octopus combined with the pop and crunch of whatever it was coated in was delightful and the salmon was half-cooked to perfection. Smooth and silky texture and strong in flavour. The Veloute was rich with a hint of Oyster on the taste buds. I washed it down extravagantly with Pol Roger champagne.

Other starter options included Fois Gras, Whipped Goats Cheese and a Pumpin Veloute.

Beef followed for main course. Glazed Beef Cheek, Sticky Oxtail, Roscoff Onion (an onion from France apparently) and Potato Mousse. The beef, faultlessly cooked, fell away from my folk like delicate flower petals as soon as the silver hit the dark, rich chocolate-coloured generous piece of beef. It didn’t hang around on the plate for very long. It was a stunning plate of utter yumminess.

Other plates to choose from included Loin of Codling with a Glazed Chicken Wing, Burnt Cauliflower and Parmesan selected by my sister, and Pot Roasted Chicken, Truffle Polenta, Giroles and Madeira – Mum had this. Both were equally as complimentary of their mains and like the true heathens that we are, we shared folks full of each other’s chosen dishes, each of us demanding one another to open our mouths so we could share in the gastronomic joy of each dish. We washed the lot down with a decent bottle of red from the good selection of wines of the menu.

Our sweet tooth was satisfied by the Yogurt Sorbet with Warm Blueberries and the Passionfruit  Soufflé and Lime Ice Cream. Both of which were brought to us in the comfort of the lounge at our request. We sat on the floor by the open fire and savoured our delicious desserts paired with another Espresso Martini each. Which wasn’t a good idea. The rest is a bit of a blur.

Up in Time For Breakfast

Served  between 8am and 10.30am on a Saturday, it’s a bit of a miracle that we made it. With sore heads and a bar bill that I had to divide by four when my husband asked what the damage was, we dragged ourselves back down to The Weathervane Restaurant.

In the cold, bright light of the crisp November morning, the sun beamed through the glass roof and we made a beeline for a table in the corner that wasn’t benefitting from the sun’s rays bouncing off the pale walls and white linen, filling the room with a brightness that we were just not able to handle. Not until we’d had our coffee.

The Full English was all about quality over quantity. Presented to us beautifully of an overly large plate, the delicious local sausage, well-cooked bacon, perfectly poached eggs, black pudding and small ramekin of piping hot bake beans was quite obviously styled with the ladies in mind and with the pool and spa next on the agenda, just the right sized portion of perfection to ensure we didn’t sink.

R&R in The Feversham Arms Verbana Spa

The beauty of a night at ‘The Fev’ is being able to hang out all day in the spa before heading home. Which is a blessing when three ladies are feeling rather tender. Not for long though. A quick swim in the outdoor pool followed by a good hour in the outdoor hot tub on a cold November morning brought us back to life pretty quickly. We were soon feeling up to meandering round the enchanting chocolate box shops of Helmsley, before heading into one of many charming tea rooms for Yorkshire tea and scones.

The Verbana Spa itself has just been completely refurbished. We didn’t indulge in any treatments on this occasion but we did take full advantage of the free-to-use, (for guests) recently renovated steam rooms, saunas, foot spas, aromatherapy room and Swedish showers before jumping into the heated outdoor swimming pool. With water set at a comfortable 30 degrees, it’s certainly a novelty being able to swim outside in Yorkshire in November.

Just another reason why I absolutely will be returning to ‘The Fev’ and may well join ‘The Fev’s 70% Club’ –  that’s the percentage of guests who return time and time again to this little piece of luxury Yorkshire heaven.

A big thank you to The Feversham Arms in Hemsley for our complimentary 24 hours of utter joy.  To book your break at The Feversham Arms jump onto their website. CLICK HERE You may also want to read my post of Helmsley – CLICK HERE

Lyndsey Thomas GirlAbout.co .uk
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