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Simonstone Hall - a great all round experience for a post New Year break

I regularly stop for lunch at Simonstone Hall on my way up and over Buttertubs during my tours of the Yorkshire Dales. My guests are always impressed as we sit on the terrace taking in the stunning views over the valley, grabbing a posh sandwich whilst peacocks casually wonder around.

So as I had a few days off post New Year where I planned to do some walking, I booked a stay at Simonstone Hall for my wife and I, and our black lab Bronte.

The Hall with its stone mullioned windows had been built in the 17th Century as a home for the Whittaker family, but was substantially enlarged in the 19th century becoming a hunting lodge and coach house. The Hall now mixes the historical architecture, with the modern amenities whilst keeping a traditional feel with a nod to its roots.

We turned up wet and cold after a rainy loop around Hawes in Wensleydale and made our way around the back of the hotel to the reception. The weather had just started to clear and for the first time that day we saw a bit of blue sky, which allowed my wife to see the fabulous views we were unable to see due to mist on our walk.

Whenever you check into a hotel, you know within minutes how the stay is going to be. First impressions are so important. Our welcome from the lady on reception was first rate, she took my wife’s dripping waterproofs and muddy boots to the drying room, petted our dog, explained there was a drawing room with open fire where we could take her, sorted our evening meal booking and showed us to our room.

We had booked a dog friendly room and were taken through the hotel to a separate but still attached area with its own door and a couple of rooms. Our room was called The Stables and our host said people sometimes fought over this room!. I can now see why.

Wow, this was on another level to what I had expected. A huge double bed and a massive round copper bathtub met us, with plenty of warm radiators to dry our clothes after our walk.

Whilst my wife showered, I started running a bath from the huge pipe coming out of the wall. What a lovely, lazy, post walk half an hour I had as I wallowed and eased my aching limbs.

After a bit of chilling and reading we went down for dinner. As dogs weren’t allowed in the actual restaurant area, we plumped to eat in the bar area instead.

There is an old well head now covered by a glass covering which makes an interesting feature as we made our way to the bar.

This was definitely the right choice as the bar lady and head waiter made a fuss of Bronte and plied her with dog biscuits. We were sat down in a cosy corner next to a roaring fire and given a complimentary mulled wine.

The menu had some great choices, my wife went for the salmon gradlax and I went for the honey glazed fig with sunblush tomato and wasabi emulsion.

Both were well presented and my glazed fig was delicious, really different, fresh and the wasabi with it a revelation.

For our main course we both went for the 28 day aged sirloin with skin on fries and peppercorn sauce. We also both had a large glass of red – Pinot Noir for me and Malbec for my wife. As you can hopefully see from the picture, if you are a steak lover it was a sizeable 10oz slab of meat, cooked to perfection with roscoff onion. It was great.

My wife called it a day after the steak, but when there is Yorkshire Parkin on the menu with vanilla ice cream and ginger cream, then the New Year’s resolution was put back a day. This traditional Yorkshire oaty gingercake was a great finale to an enjoyable meal.

The bar has a great selection of beers but it’s worth mentioning their own ale – Simonstone, brewed specially for them by Wensleydale Brewery – well worth a try.

If you also stand at the bar, there is a plaque on the wall to the right of the bar in honour of Jeremey Clarkson, as it turned out it was at Simonstone Hall where he had an altercation with his producer which led to his sacking by the BBC. The plaque reads “Here lies the BBC career of Jeremy Clarkson, who had a fracas on this spot – 4th March 2015 – the rest is legend!”

A comfortable night’s sleep was had followed by a great breakfast. There were even sausages for the dog!

After breakfast we were shown the wine vault in the clocktower – it would be a perfect place for a private party, with a huge selection of wines.

There was also a great drawing room with leather sofas and open fire which was not dog friendly which would have been a great place to get stuck into the Sunday papers if we get there again.

We checked out, having had a great night away and both of us said we would be back with the dog soon. It really was a great experience all round.

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