In our lives before renovating the house, we used to spend all of our disposable income at the weekend. Typically heading up to the Dales, the Lakes or Scotland, our favourite weekend activities usually involved a long walk and a lovely hotel to wind down in. Then the house got in the way and our weekends involved tooling up and breaking something or something along those lines.
This year, we’re giving back to ourselves a little bit and for Paul’s birthday I arranged a weekend at The Wensleydale Heifer and bought their “winter warmer” package as a treat. The treat involved a night in any of their incredible themed rooms, a 3 course dinner and a Yorkshire breakfast to rival no other, (seriously, best breakfast I’ve eaten for some time!) as well as some lovely treats and special touches thrown in.
This weekend treat was a little bit different, as although it was Paul’s birthday treat, Paul had sneakily asked me to marry him the night before we headed up to the Dales! We took the weekend as our special secret and felt like we were running away. We kept our engagement to ourselves for 2 precious days and I’m so glad we did. I’m the first to get on the blower to my sister as soon as something important happens but I resisted on this occasion only and my family got the surprise when we got back. If you’re getting engaged, I can’t recommend doing this enough, it’s a bubble of lovliness that will be difficult to replicate.
I can honestly say it is the best experience we’ve ever had at a hotel and I’m certain it wasn’t just because we’d just got engaged (although we were definitely the talk of the place!). The team at the Heifer are simply the nicest bunch of people who genuinely take an interest in you, make you feel so at home and know what you want before you even say you want it (seriously, it’s borderline psychic). We left the hotel longing to go back, armed with Happy Birthday and Happy Engagement balloons and a bag of homemade chilli fudge, all chucked in to demonstrate their genuine thoughtfulness.
I could go on for days about every aspect of the Heifer and how brilliant it is, so I’ll try stick to a brief summary!
Seafood in the Dales. Shouldn’t work. Does, with bells on. Kippers for breakfast with roasted tomatoes made me never want to eat another thing again, until I powered through their Maple Lobster Salad. Sounds like a fancy salad (and how fancy can a salad possibly be?) – turns out to be the best fish combination I’ve eaten, and yes, there’s a little bit of salad in it.
Comfy (I checked the mattress to see if it was the same as ours at home as it seemed custom made). Each room is decorated in a specific theme – we had the Black Sheep room, complete with the locally brewed Ale waiting for you when you get there
Middle of the Dales. We were lucky enough to have just enough snow to make it beautiful, not enough to make it panic-inducing in a how-will-I-ever-see-my-family-again way.
The Interior Design
Quite frankly, nuts. The decoration and general feel of the Heifer, despite it being a really very old building (16th Century) is wacky. They have a coffee table which is a fishtank, an enormous replica of a prize-winning fish sitting in the bar and toilets decorated with those iconic cheeky seaside postcards of days gone by.
The thing is, it works. The wonky walls of the old building are adorned with all sorts of odd paraphernalia and it all fits in perfectly. It made me think about how we can make some of the quirks and wonks in our own house work harder and shout louder about how random and weird they are (look out for a fish-inspired cloakroom coming your way soon!)
We’ve stayed in some lovely places but nothing tops the Heifer. We can’t wait to go back.