Middlethorpe Hall & Spa

The lowdown Truth is, I was feeling a little bruised from life when I arrived at Middlethorpe Hall for some quality time with my long-time best friend, Sarah, a six foot two redhead who is also mother of my beautiful goddaughter. For the first time in years we were ditching our (respective daughters – but only with their father’s, mind) for an (adult) girls' weekend.

I packed my toothbrush and boarded the train in London, Sarah, did the same in Edinburgh and we met in York. Sort of Sex In The City, northern style… (the series, not the films).

It always takes a strong reason to drag me away from York’s adorable shopping area, the Shambles, but this weekend, I had one. A mere mile and a half away sits the glorious Middlethrope Hall, possibly one of the cosiest, best staffed locals in England, and certainly York’s highest AA rated hotel.

The rooms With a surfeit of beautifully restored 17th and 18th century public rooms to explore, it took us a while to lay down (ie finish) our welcoming gin and tonics and find our room, situated in a quaint 18th-century courtyard. The porter (who I wanted to adopt, along with the very patient night porter who visited our room four times while we came to grips with the finer details of the DVD player) pointed out that Russell Crowe had used our very suite with his family when filming in the UK, and possibly some famous golfer too – but we didn’t quite pick up the second name. I can only say that Russell left the facilities in tip-top shape – all chintz sofas, boxes of chocolates and alcohol. Fabulous.

Dining We were planning on eating in town, but somehow the sheer unpretentious, yet refined, comfort of the Hall kept us captive. Dinner in the panelled dining room didn’t disappoint. We kicked off with Butternut Squash Veloute and Beetroot Terrine before doing serious injury to a pan-fried Turbot and Roast Fillet of Sea Bass while we both gossiped our way through the evening. At one point we are sure our conversation cleared the room. Neither of us are good at self-editing.

The spa Next morning demanded a short walk to the cute cottage that holds the spa – well, we had to work off our delicious breakfast -  where we were forced to separate and stop talking for some facials. There is a tiny gym and a decent sized pool, but I can only comment on the Jacuzzi which was reassuringly Jacuzzi-like.

Sadly, we were then forced to check out (honestly, we’d be there now if they’d allowed us) and so we drank and shopped our way round the Shambles, as you do. If you go to York, you HAVE to go to Middlethorpe Hall. You heard it here first.

Update  Lemon Detox, whose fans include Madonna and Beyonce, has launched a new programme at Middlethorpe Hall. Over three days and two nights, you get going with the lemon drinks, used to not eating a thing and get through this initial difficult period with daily spa sessions - facials, massages and water-based treatments are just the thing for taking your mind off the fact that you re not eating! You are then ready to go home and continue with the detox for a further 3-5 days. The packages are priced from £179 per guest and include three 55-minute treatments, the lemon detox formula and accommodation. Sadly, food is not allowed on this retreat and so is not included!

The details Middlethorpe Hall & Spa, Bishopthorpe Road, York YO23 2GB, tel: 01904 641241, email: info@middlethorpe.com. A deluxe double bedroom costs £289 and includes continental breakfast and VAT.

By Eilidh MacAskill

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