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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.

  • Jason says:

    We’ve stayed here a few times, we live nearby.

    The cars on the left of the hotel (where your pictured Bentley is) as you go in are usually loaned to the hotel, used to advertise the vehicles/brand or, as was the case when we last there, you could test drive the Ferrari’s if you wanted.

    In all my stays and trips here we’ve been the only people we’ve spoken to who are from Yorkshire, believe it or not Rob, guests come from all the country & world to visit this exceptional hotel, it isn’t exclusively frequented by people from Yorkshire!

    • yorkieflyer says:

      Aye not really a value proposition to us Yorkshire folk, Rob excepted who’s been away for so long he’s forgotten his own advice that outside London it’s often the Premier inn that’s the top gaff in town

    • Jason says:

      I need to correct myself here, it’s Rolls Royce and not a Bentley but all my other comments still stand!

  • WillPS says:

    Merry Hill (1985) and Metrocentre (1986) are both older than Meadowhall (1990).

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      Can you even call Meadowhall a megamall? With the Metrocentre being older and was Europe’s largest for many years I always considered Meadowhall being more similar to Washington’s Galleries than the Metrocentre. Probably because of the Savacentre connection though.

      • JH says:

        Never thought I’d ever see the Galleries mentioned on HFP

        • Shaun says:

          The Metro Centre was definitely the UK first US style shopping mall.

          +1 for Washington Galleries being mentioned on HFP. Would love to see the reaction of some on here if they somehow managed to stumble across it by mistake 😀

          • Londonsteve says:

            I believe it was actually Brent Cross in north London. Opened in 1976 to much fanfare and had bus loads of Norwegians coming over to do their shopping, probably because everything was half the price of Norway even then. My mother was there on opening day and reported the AC system accidentally blew the wrong way round and covered all the shop stock with dust, much to the chagrin of the newly employed shop staff!

          • Alan says:

            +1 for the Galleries. Never ever thought it would get a mention here. Folks probably only know Washington for the services……

          • Bagoly says:

            17th October 1968: Whitgift Centre, Croydon.
            In its initial version, probably the ugliest in the UK.
            Initially not completely enclosed, but one could always get between any pair of shops and the car parks under generous cover.
            The rents made the Whitgift Schools the fifth richest school foundation in the country, which means a very generous bursaries policy.

  • yorkieflyer says:

    Blimey we’re blingy up here are we? Unlike the Middle East folk and loads of money east Enders seen in Mayfair and Knightsbridge!
    Nice cars and champagne is old money rather than Prada from Pravda

    • Rob says:

      You’ve been reading too much Daily Mail! Your average London multi millionaire has a Maths PhD and beavers away at a hedge fund or private equity house, rarely seeing sunlight. They don’t drive expensive cars – if they even have a car, which most don’t in my experience – and don’t buy expensive clothes because they can’t be bothered. They will live in a small terraced house in West London which is probably smaller than their parents garage which still cost around £5m and, requiring £9m of earnings to pay for it, has swallowed every penny they ever earned.

      • yorkieflyer says:

        You only have to walk round Knightsbridge and Mayfair and observe the folk, their cars and their drivers/heavies

        • Rob says:

          That is the weirdo 1%, primarily Middle Eastern. Walk 30 secs north of Harrods to, say, Montpelier Square or indeed 60 seconds south to my sons school and it is Mr and Mrs Maths PhD Average.

          I say this as someone who spends 3 hours per week in the Caffe Nero opposite Harrods 🙂

          • MT says:

            Fully agree, having become a little to addicted to The Berkeley I have spent quite a lit of time exploring the area over the past 2-3 years and once you get out of the direct vicinity it’s a totally different proposition and feel.

      • yorkieflyer says:

        Those folk of which you speak are in my humble opinion silly buggers then, no work life balance nor a great stands of living for all their efforts.
        I work both in Yorkshire and London but have the good sense to live somewhere more pleasant and sensible

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Their plan is to have their work/life balance after 40

          • Rob says:

            Exactly. You can do what I did (albeit not voluntarily!) and leave at 40 and then do something more fun. Either stay in London as we did but have a more chilled time, or sell your little £5m terrace and buy something chunky outside the M25.

          • GeoffreyB says:

            There’s plenty of people with no work/life balance in their 40s/50s and never see their kids/family etc

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Ofcourse there are BUT generally they aren’t the multi million a year earning traders.

            I was talking specifically about the group Rob was referring to.

      • His Holyness says:

        Mortgage crisis might cause a few issues there…

        • TimM says:

          It is not a mortgage crisis. Interest rates returning to near normal.

      • can2 says:

        Made me laugh 🙂
        – lives in London: check
        – has a phd in math: check
        – doesn’t but expensive clothes: check
        – multi-millionaire: not even close!

        • Rob says:

          Bit of a mistake with the old career path then …. 🙂

          I’ve only got a 2:1 in Business Administration and I still got hired by an investment bank 🙂

          • Michael Jennings says:

            I have a Maths PhD. I worked for investment banks a bit a couple of decades back. I got spat out in the 2008 crisis, and I have never had any desire to go back. These days I work less, earn less, and travel a lot more.

  • sayling says:


    A fusion of food and Asian, or fusion and Asian?

    Our just a typo?

  • James F says:

    I see they offer Spa Days (my immediate thought of why there was a restaurant in the Spa) so perhaps those drinking champagne were on Spa Days so treating themselves!

  • Sloth says:

    At least Kat now knows where to send the bill for removing the greasy hand mark from their bonnet

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    Thanks for writing this up 🙂
    My desire to stay and my inbuilt frugality-beyond-what-is-necessary are now renewing their pitched battle inside my brain 😀

  • barnaby100 says:

    Many of us remember it as the North Yorkshire teacher training centre with amazing mouseman furniture. It was sold off with some local anger for well under its value about 15 years ago- priced because they said the cost of putting a lift in made it too unviable ever to be a hotel! 1960s wallpaper- shared bathrooms, I remember my induction meeting there in 2002!

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