The lowdown Personally, I think there’s no better antidote to a week of slog, stress and commuting hell in the city than a battery-recharging weekend away in a delightful country hotel, run by equally delightful Yorkshire folk. Happily for weary me, the recently restored Talbot provides exactly that. An elegant 17th- century mansion in the beautifully wild North Yorkshire Moors, the Talbot is a charming country hotel and the pride of its Yorkshire market-town home of Malton. With its stunning grounds and breathtaking views, it’s the perfect venue for a weekend of indulgent food, bracing rural walks and fresh countryside air, and is also - happily- dog-friendly, with bowls, blankets and doggie chews available for canine guests.
The rooms All 26 rooms are traditionally British and beautifully country-luxe: muted colours, dark wood, plush beds (some four-poster) and cosy bed throws. The chocolate-brown and cream marble en-suite bathrooms are stocked with pretty Penhaligon’s products and stunning free-standing baths that seem to have been designed with long candlelit soaks in mind.
The food My advice? Leave the diet at home. With Malton-born TV chef James Martin in charge of the kitchen, this place is a foodie’s paradise. Start as you mean to go on with an indulgent brekkie: porridge is a luxe version of your standard bowl of oats, amped up with cream and brown sugar, while the Talbot bacon buttie with tomato chutney is simply divine. After a long, late breakfast, you’ll probably end up skipping lunch, meaning that come 3pm you’ll be ready for an afternoon cream tea. Hole up in the atrium to while away a few hours indulging in still-hot-from-the-oven scones, smothered in clotted cream and jam, washed down (naturally) with some Yorkshire tea…or as I did, with some slightly less local champagne. At this point it’d be somewhat criminal not to point out that the scones at the Talbot are, without a doubt, THE best scones I’ve ever tasted. All winter afternoons should be spent like this. As tough as it may be, do try to keep some room for dinner, which is where James Martin and team seriously come in to their own. This is fine dining without the crazy price tag: classic dishes served with a twist, such as Yorkshire lamb shank served with spiced yogurt and toasted almonds and asparagus soup topped with parmesan crisp and scotch egg, You can really taste the quality of the locally sourced ingredients and the presentation of the dishes demonstrates the incredible skill of the chefs. What’s more, the portions are perfectly sized, allowing you to do justice to one of the delicious puds. After all, it’d be a shame to miss out on a helping of white chocolate and whisky croissant butter pudding.
The details The Talbot Hotel, Yorkersgate, Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 7AJ. To book, call 01653 639 096 or visit talbotmalton.co.uk. Current offer: until 2 December 2012 rooms from £99 per night when dining in the restaurant.
By Sarah Statman