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My Flamboyant 40th Celebrations at The Magnificent Grantley Hall Hotel & Spa in North Yorkshire

By Lyndsey Thomas – 10th February 2020

January 30th, 2020 – the day I turned 40. The excuse I used to flounce around in a big red dress for a coming-of-(middle)-age photoshoot in the magnificent grounds and the lavish, fit-for-a-princess Royal Suite in Northern England’s spectacular and brand spanking new Grantley Hall in North Yorkshire.

I towed with the idea of a vow renewal for our 10th wedding anniversary in 2018. But I really only wanted the opportunity to wear a big dress, loads of slap, and prance around the grounds of somewhere proper posh. It wasn’t about the renewal of my wedding vows at all. Or the guests, or the expense, or even the groom.

So when the lovely folk at Grantley Hall kindly gave me  ‘access all areas’ on my 40th to shoot some over-the-top memoirs of me all dolled up wrapped in red-carpet-worthy dress – all my birthdays came at once! I rounded up my very talented girlfriends – make-up Artist Naomi Frazer and personal branding photographer Maryanne Scott – the only ladies who I could trust to make me look a hundred Dollars on my big birthday.

The prestigious Relais & Châteaux status was slapped on Grantley Hall in Ripon in North Yorkshire in 2019 before the Plaster of Paris had even had a chance to dry.

At the risk of sounding like a rather pretentious hotel name-dropper, I’ve stayed in a fair few Relais & Châteaux properties from The Gilpin in the Lake District and Chateau de la Traine in the Dordogne to Wild Coast Lodge in Yala and Cape Weligama Resort & Spa on Sri Lanka’s west coast, so I was pretty certain that, when Grantley’s Sales Director informed me they had been given this notable recognition month before the official opening, Grantley Hall was going to be pretty special indeed.

And BY’ECK!, she wasn’t wrong.

The Shoot

Girl Power!

Every extraordinary hotel has an extraordinary story behind it, and Grantley Hall’s story is one of some serious girl power. The building was purchased and renovated by  75-year-old proud Yorkshire women (Barnsley-born) Valeria Sykes. Every finite detail has been overseen by Valerie. She was determined, against the odds, and at the ripe old age of 75, to turn dilapidated Grantley Hall into the most salubrious hotel and spa in the North of England.  With her finger firmly on the business’s pulse.

Inside Grantley Hall

After four years of renovation works and throwing an obscene amount of her own money at the project – £70million to be precise – Valeria has created a destination hotel that will undoubtedly bring people from far and wide to Yorkshire, just to say they have stayed at Grantley Hall. It’s magnificent, in every sense.

She told The Yorkshire Post that her aim was to tempt people from London to come up to the area to see what they are missing here in Yorkshire.

And after bagging Best Newcomer and the 37th prestigious annual Condé Nast Johansens awards, the fairy-tale 17th-century Georgian mansion will draw visitors from much further afield I’m sure.

It opened its magnificent doors in June 2019 and with 47 opulent guestrooms and four restaurants – the headliner is run by Michelin Star chef Shaun Rankin.

Grantley Hall also boasts exquisite lounge areas where one can take afternoon tea, chic cocktail bars serving delicious cocktails and a state-of-the-art destination spa that takes wellness to a whole new level. And the grounds, boasting lakes, streams, courtyards, and a restored Japanese Garden, are something else.

Just a 10-minute drive from at A1 and the picture-perfect North Yorkshire town of Ripon, and a stone’s through from the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, it’s ideally located for well-heeled visitors to Yorkshire who want do wine, dine, relax, stroll, shop and admire some of the UK’s most incredible historic sites.

Valeria told The Yorkshire Post: “I know I won’t see a financial return on my investment in Grantley during my lifetime and I have no regrets. I love Yorkshire and it deserves the very best.”


For more information on Grantley Hall go to https://www.grantleyhall.co.uk/

Makeup by https://www.facebook.com/makeupandlashesbyNaomiFrazer/

Photography by https://www.brandingphotographer.co.uk/

Birthday Cake by https://www.facebook.com/kikiandthecakes/

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