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Review: Grantley Hall, Ripon, probably the UK’s most luxurious regional hotel

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This is our review of the Grantley Hall hotel near Ripon, Yorkshire.

Over the late May Bank Holiday we spent a few days in Yorkshire. It was, to put it mildly, a mixed bag – a night at the Moxy in York, two nights at a 3-star hotel in the coastal town where my Mum lives and then two nights at Grantley Hall, probably the plushest hotel to open outside London in the last decade.

I’d been meaning to try it since it opened in July 2019 but the pandemic – plus the difficulty in getting a room as there are only 47 – meant that it took us until now to get there.

This is NOT a proper review, because there is a lot going on here and I only saw a fraction of it. All you need to know is that if you like staying in luxury UK countryside hotels, and you’ve got £2,000+ to blow on a weekend break, I recommend it.

It’s actually marginally cheaper than Four Seasons Hampshire and the like, so whilst I’d hesitate to say £600 per night (£750 at weekends) for the cheapest room is a bargain, it is less than you can pay nearer the M25. And it is exceptionally good – my best hotel stay of 2023 so far, pipping Gleneagles Townhouse in Edinburgh.

Here are some random thoughts punctuated by photos:

  • the hotel used to be the ancestral home of the Grantley family before falling into the hands of the local authority and being used for educational purposes
Grantley Hall review
Indoor pool
  • it was restored by Valeria Sykes at a cost of £70+ million using, I think, the proceeds of her divorce from Paul Sykes. Paul made almost £1 billion from his part in creating one of Britain’s first out of town megamalls, Meadowhall.
  • the Sykes family is heavily involved in Ripon and the community and sees the development of the hotel – which is run by family members – as a way of driving jobs and money into the region
  • the hotel is exceptionally well run, astonishingly so given that it is not operated by a management company. The staff are, genuinely, operating at Four Seasons levels of service.
Grantley Hall review
Outdoor (very heated) pool
  • the clientele are more blingy than you would get at a similar hotel near London. This is, I think, a function of the personality types and occupations that are likely to make you wealthy in Yorkshire vs London. As an example, a third of the people around the indoor and outdoor pools were ordering champagne. I have never ordered champagne whilst sat around the edge of a 5-star hotel pool, in the UK or elsewhere, and I’d never seen anyone do it in the UK before Grantley Hall, where it seems to be standard behaviour
  • as another example, when we arrived there were three Rolls Royce cars and three Porsche cars parked outside the entrance (some may have been hotel cars). When we handed over the keys to our rented Kia it was spirited away to a hidden corner. Unlimited in/out valet parking is, of course, free.
Grantley Hall review
My child, not my car …. we rented a Kia
  • the spa and indoor / outdoor pools are exceptionally impressive – there is even a little outdoor sauna in a hut by the outdoor pool, if that’s your thing. Obviously there’s a snow room too.
  • there is a room near the gym where you can pop in to discuss chartering one of the Sykes family’s super yachts for a week
  • your room key is a little square piece of plastic (after all, why should room keys be as big as credit cards?) and, impressively, can also be used to unlock the lockers in the changing rooms. It sounds like a little thing, but this is the level Grantley Hall operates at.
  • it was also the first time that I’d ever had a room where the TV was covered with a painting, which slides out of view when you turn it on – see below
Grantley Hall review
  • you also get a decanter of fruit gin in your room because, well, why not?!
  • toiletries are by Bulgari and come in small bottles, not dispensers
Grantley Hall review
  • you don’t get anything in the way of views in the standard rooms (one of our two rooms overlooked the delivery entrance!) but this is one of those hotels where you have no excuse for being in your room given the scale of the facilities
  • I was impressed by this glass domed roof (below) – the cheaper rooms are in what is actually an extension tucked away behind one wing. It would have been easy to build a normal block of rooms, but instead you get this glassed roof which creates a green courtyard – four floors up.
Grantley Hall review
  • there are multiple nooks and crannies around the hotel if you need to crash out or simply do some work – small libraries, a sunken wine cave, little hidden lounges
  • you can walk (1 hour) from the hotel to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth a visit. Ripon itself is a very small city despite having a large cathedral – the cathedral is really the only thing worth seeing (don’t miss the crypt).
Fountains Abbey
Fountains Abbey
  • you know I said that the hotel only has 47 rooms? This doesn’t stop it having eight restaurants and barsShaun Rankin (Michelin-starred fine dining), EightyEight (an underground Asian fusion restaurant which is essentially Hakkasan moved to Yorkshire, Michelin-listed), Fletchers (the nearest it has to a traditional hotel restaurant and where breakfast is also served), Valerias (a Mayfair-style champagne and cocktail bar), Norton Bar (a more traditional wood pannelled bar), Spa Lounge (because why not set up a separate casual dining restaurant in your spa waiting area?), an afternoon tea lounge and The Orchard, a temporary tented Summer-only drinking and eating venue overlooking the lawns. Every meal we had was faultless.
Grantley Hall review
EightyEight (PR image)

I could go on but I won’t. The website looks great and tells you all you need to know.

How to book

You may need to book well in advance here, especially at weekends, given that there are only 47 rooms available. It’s worth noting that whilst it does a lot of society weddings the receptions are held in a stand alone building.

We booked via American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts. This was because I had 2 x £200 credits from my Business Platinum card to spend, and because we would get £80 of food and beverage credit per room thrown in and a guaranteed 4pm check-out.

Interestingly, for the first time ever, at check-in I was told that the ‘guaranteed’ Amex FHR 4pm check-out wasn’t available due to a large wedding party coming in. We were offered a three course lunch on the house (which ended up being £200-worth between the four of us) and a 2pm check-out which we accepted. We were actually planning to leave at 2pm anyway so we came out ahead. It’s not clear what would have happened otherwise.

If you don’t have Amex Platinum, our luxury hotel booker Emyr Thomas can book Grantley Hall for you. Extra benefits for his clients include:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Complimentary lunch for up to two guests, once during your stay (minimum value of $100)
  • Early check-in / Late check-out, subject to availability

All guests get free breakfast irrespective of how they book. You can contact Emyr via the form here – you pay the hotel at check-out as usual.

As Grantley Hall is part of Pride of Britain Hotels, you can make a small saving by taking advantage of the current American Express £50 cashback offer if you buy a Pride of Britain Hotels gift card.

The Grantley Hall website is here.

Hotel offers update – December 2023:

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Comments (122)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Tom C says:

    We stayed here during 2020 when my wife was pregnant and you had to pre-book the spa due to covid restrictions. Halcyon Days. My wife became sick after eating here, so we left a day early and they had to do an investigation. Even accounting for that, I still think it’s amongst the best luxury countryside property in England, and I’ve been to almost all of them. Also brilliant value for money, when the 78 sqm suite we stayed in is just over £1k/n – that’s barely an entry level, 30 sqm room in London now.

    Worth noting no children under 8 are allowed, so we’re unlikely to be returning anytime soon.

    • Londonsteve says:

      Don’t me wrong, I’m glad for your success, but I’ve got to wonder what world you inhabit where £1k/n is ‘brilliant value for money’. I appreciate everything’s relative in life. Personally, I’d rather spend £1k per person on a week at a very smart resort on Turkey’s Aegean coast inclusive of flights, to offer but one example.

      • Rob says:

        But you wouldn’t think that if you’d founded a very successful and hugely cash generative IT business like Tom ….

        And there are probably 20m people in Britain who could only dream of a £1k holiday in Turkey ….

        Everything is, as you say, relative.

  • KP says:

    Richard is her son, according to the website

  • Pb says:

    I hope he polished the hand print off afterwards .

    • AJA says:

      I was going to say the same. Not sure I’d be pleased to have anyone leaning on my car.

      I assume that the Rolls Royces don’t belong to the hotel unlike the one’s owned by Peninsular hotels?

      Interesting, too, that the hotel doesn’t like to have ordinary cars on display outside the hotel. How pretentious is that?

      • MT says:

        The cars outside sums the place up, all about appearance and no substance I am afraid!

        • Rob says:

          You haven’t read the review. The substance is all there. It lacks nothing in terms of staff, service or quality.

          • yorkieflyer says:

            Unfortunately let down by guests from London turning up in Kia’s

          • Rob says:

            I liked the Kia actually. Both my kids are six feet tall (yes, I know one is only 12 and the other is a girl) and they did at least have decent legroom.

          • yorkieflyer says:

            Disclosure, I drive a Toyota.

          • MT says:

            It must have changed a lot since I was there late last year, it ranks as my single most dissapointing stay ever. Don’t even get me started if you factor in the cost of the place!

          • Michael Jennings says:

            Nothing wrong with Kias – I used to have one. Decent, fairly priced, well made cars. Sort of like staying in a Premier Inn.

        • Lady London says:

          Do you say that about The Lanesborough at Hyde Park Corner as well? They do the same.

      • James says:

        Most luxury hotels only let very expensive cars park right outside? At Four Seasons Hampshire a lowly Porsche is relegated to the car park.

        • Rob says:

          Correct. You need a McLaren at FS Hampshire to be allowed to park outside the door (there are usually 2-3 of those at any one time).

        • Bagoly says:

          Yes, standard worldwide.
          Although at the Marriott Warsaw I have more than once seen cars from fairly modest brands with blingy paint jobs, which apparently count.

    • S says:

      I hope not! You are pretty much guaranteed to put swirls in the paint if you do!

  • TimM says:

    I am encouraged that HfP have wandered in to God’s Own Country. It is the best place on Earth to be in the English Summer.

    I am also encouraged that the designers of this hotel have finally caught up with my idea for making a TV in the room more aesthetically acceptable. 30 years ago mine was hung on the wall and covered with Da Vinci’s ‘Creation of Adam’. It didn’t slide but rather two hinged doors met just where the fingers of God and Adam are at their closest. Make the TV the centre piece of a room and you have become the Royle Family.

    • AJA says:

      Not sure covering it with a print of the Creation of Adam is something that the Royle’s wouldn’t do.

      I agree they aren’t pretty given that when switched off they are just a big black screen. In my last home we had a specially built tv cabinet that had vertically sliding doors to hide the TV. Unfortunately in my new home we upgraded the size of the TV so weren’t able to recreate the cabinet so it’s now left on show. But it is definitely not the centrepiece of the room.

    • Ryan says:

      VOCO Grand Central in Glasgow has TV’s incorporated into what you think and appears to be a mirrored wardrobe/cupboard.

      When you come across the remote control, it did make for a interesting five minutes to understand where the TV was as there was no instruction to explain where…

    • yorkieflyer says:

      I thought tvs hidden in mock chippindale cabinets are a little retro, from a time when folk wouldn’t admit to house guests that they had a picturegram in the drawing room?

      • JDB says:

        One doesn’t have televisions in the drawing room full stop.

        • yorkieflyer says:

          Aye one should pop downstairs to the kitchen and have a gander when the staff have turned in for the night if one can’t resist the naughty pleasure

        • Londonsteve says:

          Where does one put one’s television in that case?

          • Froggee says:

            We have tvs in the garden room, the kitchen, the snug, the master bedroom (not my choice), the office, and the guest house. As @JDB correctly states never in the drawing room. It would likely get broken during nerf gun battles and football games.

    • Rhys says:

      We just bought a Samsung Frame TV which displays art work when in standby mode. It has a motion sensor & ambient light mode so it adjusts brightness accordingly. It is astonishingly convincing 95% of the time.

      • Navara says:

        Good choice Rhys bought one of those from Argos with Avios converted to Nectar points prior to the devaluation

    • GeoffreyB says:

      “It is the best place on Earth to be in the English Summer”

      It really isn’t. There’s plenty of places in other countries that are miles better

      • Rob says:

        I have to say …. despite being brought up in South Yorkshire and my Mum now living on the Yorkshire coast, I had previously spent virtually no time in my life (literally less than 7 days) in this part of North Yorkshire. Whilst the great weather in late May clearly helped, I have to say that it is stunning up there. It had the same wow factor as, for example, Boka Bay in Montenegro had on me last year.

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        GeoffreyB, you clearly haven’t been to enough bits of it. If you take the A59 and A64 as a rough demarcation line, nearly everything north of that within Yorkshire is astonishingly good.

      • No longer Entitled says:

        But other places in other countries won’t be partaking in an English Summer. Yorkshire is, and I say this with an allegiance to Lancashire, stunning in parts.

  • Mark says:

    How did you come to have 2 x £200 hotel credit?

    • Rob says:

      When the benefit launched last year you got one for the current year straight away. My renewal date was about 3 weeks later so I earned two inside a month.

  • Mark says:

    Fletchers is listed in the Michelin Guide too. In fact, every restaurant listed for Ripon is in the hotel!

  • MT says:

    Stayed for 3 nights here late last year and frankly it was terrible. The staff were on the whole disinterested and the fact you could only have housekeeping do your room in a 1 hour time gap after they had done all the rooms that were needed for new arrivals and then after their lunch but before they left for the days was anything but luxury. The breakfast was not even average, quantity small, buffet not refreshed.

    The spa was indeed nice, albeit it felt like apart from the main pool when busy at weekends to small for the number of guests. As the weather was glorious it was very nice having the indoor and outdoor area. The grounds of the hotel are also amazingly kept, its just a shame everything else wasnt up to the quality of the grounds people.

    The restuarants were ok, but again poor service andin regards EightyEight we sent the same dish back twice because it wasnt cooked, if I were Hakkasan I would be quite insulted by the comparison! Shaun Rankin was reasonable, the setting is stunning, just not sure the food matched up to it.

    To top it off I was told prior to arrival that they would not honour the FHR 4pm late checkout and it took 4 days of arguing and American Express getting in touch with them to agree to honour it and said it was down to “staff error”, which was strange as we then met people in the hotel who had arrived after us and been told the same thing. So they certainly cannot be trusted.

    The one positive note would be the bar was excellent and staff there superb.

    The area is lovely but as a luxury hotel GH failed our measure on pretty much every scale, so from personal experience my advice would be pass.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      So looks like you’ll never get 4pm checkout … the great service might just be BS and they recognised Robs name so bumped him a lunch to make up for it.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Btw BS for the very reason they are actively dishonest re 4pm check out

        Dishonesty re service really gets my back up

        • Rob says:

          What was amusing is that I never asked for a 4pm check-out. If they’d asked me when we planned to leave, I would have said 2pm because we had a train from York at 5pm and they could have said ‘not a problem, we’ll put you down for 2pm’. No need to buy me a lunch, no need for me to find out they were squeezed.

          Offering 4pm check out is an issue with a 47 room property which is heavily booked, especially a hotel where people are unlikely to turn up late. Most will arrive as easily as possible to maximise use of the facilities. For most city hotels, offering a 4pm check out is a zero cost thing because a large % of guests don’t check in until the evening anyway.

          I am always surprised that hotels offer ‘named’ suites via Amex FHR, because if you only have one of a particular room type and you give it to someone with a guaranteed 4pm check out, it basically stops you from selling it the following day. After all, someone who drops four figures on a suite isn’t going to be happy if they turn up only to be told they can’t have the room until 5pm because the last person only left at 4pm.

          • Chrisasaurus says:

            Which is the challenge with Marriott and rocking up to your suite that an Ambassador has no intention of leaving til 4pm…

        • MT says:

          It is the fact they wish to have the advantages of FHR but not actually offer the benifits, then actively tell Amex it was a staff training issue, this was 9 months ago and seems the “training” issue hasn’t been resolved. Clearly it is possible to have a great stay here, but personally my stay was terrible and I would never consider returning, the management I can assure you really do not care about the guests.

          Another quirk I didnt like was the lack of deadbolts on the doors, so if staff wished to ignore the dnd they could do and just walk in. And certain staff did indeed not think a dnd applied to them!

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Tbf 9 months is a long time with a new property so training does improve.

            But doesn’t change the fact they ruined your stay. Perhaps reach out to the hotel and see what they’ll do to make a future stay better

  • John Murray says:

    Good to finally see the Government’s ‘levelling up’ policy in action! 😉

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