From the world-class food to the decadent spa, this brand new luxury hotel offers an escape like never before…
It’s not every day that Yorkshire welcomes a glittering, glamorous, global destination into its fold. But then, there’s nothing typical about Grantley Hall. This stunning, Grade II-listed country house in Ripon recently re-opened as a 5-star luxury retreat and it’s nothing short of spectacular. With 47 bedrooms, four diverse restaurants, three bars, acres of stunning countryside grounds and gawp-worthy decor at every turn, this is the sort of bucket list destination that’ll absolutely knock your socks off.
Having gained an official AA 5-Star rating, it’s already got the seal of approval. Want to mark your special occasion with a lavish weekend break? Celebratory birthday dinner? Evening cocktails? Indulgent spa day? Far from your usual country hotel, Grantley Hall blends all the charm of countryside glamour with pure city centre sophistication. Conde Nast recently named Yorkshire as the second best worldwide travel destination – and this hotel is the cream of the crop.
A luxurious escape
Grantley Hall takes comfort to a whole new level. Their 47 sumptuous bedrooms come with oodles of extras, like a welcome glass of the hotel’s own Damson Gin, complimentary minibar, intuitive lighting, bed linen with off-the-chart thread counts and the fluffiest darn towels you’ve ever had the joy of snuggling up in. Even the mattresses are fit for royalty. Made to Grantley Hall’s exact specification by local Leeds firm, Harrison Spinks, there are no fewer than 10,500 springs to ensure your perfect night’s sleep.
At the top of the range, you’ll find the two-floor Royal Suite and the magnificent Presidential Suite – because who doesn’t want rooftop atrium access and a baby grand piano in their hotel room? But Grantley Hall isn’t just for the rich and famous. The Deluxe Doubles, technically the smallest bedrooms, still come in at a whopping 38 square metres. So whether you’re soaking in the Italian marble bath, admiring the garden views from your armchair or browsing the Robe and Pillow menus (yes, seriously) in bed, there’s always plenty of room to stretch out.
And the outdoors is just as great as you’d expect. Sat on the edge of Nidderdale’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Ripon is a mere bus ride or straight dash up the A61 from Leeds, yet it’s the perfect place for a countryside escape. Grantley Hall has 30 acres of immaculate grounds to explore and you can begin your getaway in the enchanting, Grade II-listed Japanese Garden. Get lost amongst the abundant varieties of bamboo, trees and ferns, stroll past the two stream-linked ponds and seek out the hidden stepping stones, nestled between rocks carved from nearby Brimham Rocks.
Built around 1910, it’s one of the earliest Japanese gardens in the entire country. Now extended and refurbished, there’s never been a better time to visit it in all its glory. They wanted the grounds to be as much of an attraction as the hotel itself – and they certainly are. From the sweeping formal gardens at the front to the intimate rose garden, two new glittering lakes and productive vegetable garden, you’re never at a loss for nooks and crannies to discover. And that’s before you’ve even left the hotel to enjoy the beautiful cathedral city of Ripon itself!
A right proper pamper
No luxury break is complete without a pamper day, and relaxation is the name of the game at Three Graces Spa. After some invigorating laps in the enormous 18-metre indoor swimming pool, soak your worries away in the indoor-outdoor hydrotherapy pool (complete with neck massage stations and air recliners) and plunge into the cedar hot tub. They even have a steam room, sauna and snow room, yes, with real snow – but alas, for now, they’re closed to protect guests. In between, your hardest decision will be whether to bask on the sun terrace, revitalise in the rainforest shower or nod off in the soothing relaxation room. It’s a hard life, eh?
In fact, the only good reason to tear yourself away from your favourite spa experience is to take time for an indulgent treatment. The choice is immense, from stress-melting full body massages to fun Rasul mud rituals which might just turn into a mud-slinging match with your partner. Facial treatments are supplied by luxury Spanish skincare experts Natura Bisse, while your body is taken care of by organic ILA skincare from the Cotswolds. Safe to say, you’re in very, very good hands. Three Graces Spa is usually open to everyone, but due to COVID-19, it’s currently reserved for hotel guests only. Fear not, their zen-inducing spa days will be back soon, so you can book the ultimate pampering session.
Fitness fanatics are just as well taken care of in the ELITE Gym. Of course, you’ve got your state-of-the-art treadmills, rowing machines and weights in the executive area, but those looking for a more hands-on workout can kick things up a gear with Personal Trainers and custom circuits in the Strength & Conditioning Studio. Hoping to tackle the Three Peaks Challenge or row across the Atlantic? Team their expert coaches with world-class kit and you’ll be ship-shape in no time.
For a real deep dive into your health, Grantley Hall’s Health and Performance Centre is where fitness paradise meets science lab. Whether you’re a sporting pro or just want to better understand your body, the stonking array of facilities, like the cryotherapy chamber, underwater treadmill, 3D body scanners and altitude training equipment, offer a unique insight into your fitness levels. Gym memberships are available to non-guests and some even come with half-hour health checks. Basically, if you’re big on health, there’s no finer place to be.
An exquisite night out
Last but abso-blimmin-lutely not least, let’s talk tastebuds. Any 5-star hotel worth its salt has to have a flagship restaurant, but Grantley Hall doesn’t have just one, it has four. There’s fine dining from Michelin-starred chef Shaun Rankin (don your glad rags, it’s a seriously sophisticated joint), succulent European and British grill favourites at Fletcher’s Restaurant (their Josper BBQ oven is the master of mouth-watering steaks) and bistro-style bites in Norton Bar’s alfresco Courtyard (Beef Wellington for two under the fairy lights? It doesn’t get much more romantic than that). Hell, you can even do a traditional afternoon tea, complete with delicate savoury sandwiches, freshly baked scones and a divine trio of cakes courtesy of resident pastry chef, Stefan Rose.
But the jewel in the culinary crown has to be EightyEight – a pan-Asian restaurant inspired by, and set next to, the house’s historic Japanese Garden. After years working in Japan and as Head Chef at Ox Club, Ben Iley has created a menu of inventive flavours using the best local produce. In fact, many of the dishes feature ingredients grown in Grantley Hall’s own Kitchen Garden. Smoked shiitake mushroom dumplings are seared on the traditional robata grill and gently rested over charcoals to absorb all that smokey goodness, before being wrapped in homemade dumpling skins, fried for a crispy bottom then steamed to sticky-soft perfection. Yep, these guys know their stuff.
Gorging in all its forms is welcomed here. Dishes like charred Iberico pork shoulder with homemade kimchi apples and ginger-glazed chicken Tsukune skewers (Ben’s personal favourite) can be ordered a la carte to fight over with friends, or scoffed as part of a full-blown, eight-course tasting menu. Meanwhile, Sundays are reserved for an Asian twist on a traditional roast. Choose an enormous hunk of meat, like Shanghai-style duck, Cantonese roast pork belly or Korean Bulgogi beef, team it with everything from crispy pancakes and bao buns to Chinese greens and pickled veggies, then get gobblin’. You don’t need to stay overnight to enjoy it either, Grantley Hall is a foodie destination in its own right.
No gorge is complete without a good glug or two and they have three bars to tempt you in, but if you’ve got Champagne on the brain, head to Valeria’s. Usually a late-night bar, they’re open until 10pm for the foreseeable, but you’ll get the same level of mmm-worthy luxury. Intimate leather booths, glamorous lighting and a central bar stocked with everything from Dom Pérignon to Prosecco – it’s 1920s glitz meets modern sophistication. Dreamy jazz evenings are due to return in the near future, but even without the live music this subterranean drinking den is worth singing about ’til the early hours.