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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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).
- you know I said that the hotel only has 47 rooms? This doesn’t stop it having eight restaurants and bars – Shaun 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.
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.
Hotel offers update – December 2023:
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