Situated directly on Helmsley Village Square, The Black Swan hotel exudes character and old school charm. With plenty of local places of interest; Nunnington Hall (National Trust), Castle Howard and Helmsley Castle, it’s easy here to while away a weekend soaking up culture and craft. The hotel itself is a sequence of three different buildings with a combined age of 500 years old, which give a distinct ‘oldy-worldy’ feel with quintessentially British character.
Even the quaint reception showcases period features; exposed beams, and traditional Jacobean paneling. A welcoming lounge features a roaring, open fire, deep comfy settees and arm chairs. The hotel staff immediately welcomed us to the hotel on arrival were quick to offer help with bags, and ensure that the car was safely parked within the hotel car park.
We stayed in a Feature Twin Room with a view of the lovely Helmsley Square from the period leaded windows. The traditional country-style decor was dressed in creamy colours with wooden paneling and sitting pretty on the bedside table was a black ‘old school’ dial telephone which was a cool touch. Altough rustic charm was prevalent, the essential modern additions of a flat screen, wall mounted TV and iPod docking station were discreetly blended. Cosy slippers and robes, complementary Harrogate Spa water, tea & coffee making facilities, and glossy magazines are provided.
In the evening pre-dinner drinks can be served in the lounge (which has a great open fire), or you can pop into the Cygnet Bar and browse the extensive wine list featuring over 200 wines and champagnes. A signature 1920’s champagne cocktail is also a must if you enjoy a particularly decadent tipple.
The Gallery restaurant is a also home to the ‘Helmsley Galleries’ in the day time and is renowned in the North for its commercial collection of original art. In the evening The Gallery is a 3AA rosette dining hot-spot featuring a la carte, tasting and seasonal market menus – all using locally sourced produce from within a 30 mile radius. The 48 day aged Chateaubriand was recommended and came accompanied by traditional cooked chips, grilled tomato, Portobello mushroom and peppercorn or Bearnaise sauces. The Chateaubriand is always a great show piece and this was cooked to perfection.
The cheese trolley in itsself is a culinary experience and sits under its huge glass dome which was wheeled to our table with a fantastic and well curated selection, which are served with water biscuits, chilled grapes and cubes of quince jelly. As expected the waiter was a total cheese expert sharing his vast knowledge of each variety. For those with a sweet tooth I’d certainly recommend the Mille Feuille (an iconic french pastry) with salted caramel and banana ice cream, mere words cannot do this heavenly morsel justice! We went on to enjoy after dinner music from singer and acoustic guitarist Val Hill who plays a regular set the Cygnet Bar, and is a firm favourite with guests and locals.
Breakfast is held in The Gallery restaurant with a continental selection of Yorkshire Ham, cheeses, cereals, fruit salad, fresh pastries and yogurts, dried fruit, muesli and breakfast juices. Toast was served to the tables wrapped in starched linen pockets. For a hearty start to the day we thoroughly enjoyed the English Breakfast with Nidderdale classic pork sausage, Ripon Cathedral Air dried back bacon. The smoked haddock, buttered spinach and poached egg was also a great choice.
The Black Swan