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The Black Swan at Helmsley – a comfortable stay at a historic location

Needing to head up to the North York Moors to recce a walking route for a future tour, myself and my wife decided at short notice to head up to Helmsley and stay overnight. Finding a room at The Black Swan, I was intrigued to experience the hotel having passed it many times whilst on my driver guided tours.

On arrival, it was interesting to take a good look at the hotel from the car park in front. It is here that you can really appreciate the history of the building. It is known that the site has been the location for an inn for centuries before the existing building, but what remains now covers a number of eras.

The hotel is Grade II listed and actually made up of three buildings, a timber framed black and white house dating back to the 1400’s, in the middle is a Georgian building and then on the right is an Elizabethan building which has been altered over the years with an extra storey added.

The quaint North Yorkshire market town of Helmsley, was important during medieval times as a centre of first the local wool trade and then for the home weaving of textiles. The ruins of Helmsley Castle can also be seen just off the market square.

The hotel really came into its own in the early 1800’s when it became a busy coaching inn, serving as a stop-over on the Helmsley Flyer, a stage coach route which connected Leeds, with York and Helmsley three times a week.

Going inside to check in, you immediately get that sense of history in this boutique hotel as you walk through the small rooms with their low ceilings and exposed beamed. The interior mixes the old and new with antiques and artworks mixed with modern touches.

We had come with our dog, and she was welcomed at check in before we were shown to our room.

The room had a large double bed but enough space to also fit the dogs bed without having to trip over it. The room over looked a beautiful walled garden and the bath/shower room was spacious for an old building and had everything we required for our comfort.

As it was a warm day and we had an hour or so before we had booked dinner, we headed off to Helmsley Brewery, just of the market square. This micro-brewery does some great ales and we sampled a couple in their beer garden. I wasn’t disappointed!

We headed back to The Old Swan and grabbed a quick drink in the beer garden. The flowers were in full bloom.

We ate in a dog friendly room next to the bar area and not in the main restaurant. There was a decent selection of pub staples and we went for the Fish and Chips, which was a good sized portion and helped soak up our earlier beers! Interestingly, each dish had a calorie count on the menu and whilst I had originally considered Banger and Mash – seeing it was 2,400 calories and Fish and Chips just 1067 calories – helped with the decision.

For dessert I went for the chocolate brownie with white chocolate ice cream (after all think of the calories I had saved with Fish and Chips!). It was delicious. It is worth noting the staff were great. Chatty, fun and friendly – it really does add to the experience.

The small bar is cosy and I’m sure it would be a great place to while away a couple of hours on a winter evening. We sneaked in for a night cap.

Breakfast was a served from 7.30am the next day in the dining room. We got up early and whilst there was a Full English option as well as cereals and pastries, we went for a bacon butty so as not to be too full for our planned walk.

We had booked at short notice and our double room was £129, which I think was pretty good value. Fish and Chips was £16.50.

Helmsley is a great place to use as a base for exploring the North York Moors and Howardian Hills. I’m sure we will be back.


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