The luxury lodges at Faweather Grange are the ultimate stress-busting retreat. Sam Casey went along
‘THE hot tub’s already on. The champagne’s in the fridge” – if there are two more enticing sentences at the end of a hard week’s work, I’ve yet to hear them.
As soon as we’re led into the warmth of our luxury lodge at Faweather Grange by our smiling hostess, Jan, any stresses we had brought with us start to evaporate.
Nestled near the peak of a hill in High Eldwick, little more than a dozen miles from Leeds city centre and overlooking Guiseley and Baildon, this small holiday village comprising 11 lodges and one grange is a multi-award winner.
Tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire named it Holiday Village of the Year at the annual White Rose Awards twice in succession.
It’s not difficult to see why.
The quality of the accommodation is fantastic – on entering the front door we walk into a good-sized, open-plan living space with a large flat screen TV and DVD player adjoining a well-equipped kitchen.
The adjacent bedroom is dominated by a large four-poster bed with a mattress so soft it might just be made of marshmallow. Through to the bathroom and we find a corner bath-come-jacuzzi and, separated from the rest of the room by a glass door, the sauna.
The whole place, on what is a gloomy Friday afternoon, is toasty warm thanks to the wood-burning stove that is already ablaze in the living room.
But it’s the little touches – the fresh flowers, the complimentary box of chocolates, the hand-written card – that set the place apart.
The emphasis is well and truly on relaxation, down to the CD playing the kind of ethereal music you might find in a health spa.
After Jan has given us a brief tour, we decide that cracking open the bubbly and jumping in the hot tub has to be the priority.
If you’ve never sampled a hot tub before it’s hard to appreciate the unique pleasure of sitting in what is essentially a large outdoor bath, without much on, in the middle of winter.
Getting in and out aren’t much fun, but the sense of indulgent joy you feel once you’re in and looking up at the stars, especially on a clear night, is worth it. The bubbles created by the underwater jets enhance the experience. And the bubbly that comes in a bottle certainly helps too.
Having reluctantly decided to get out, we wrap up in towels and wander through to the sauna. Anyone who has shared a communal sauna with complete strangers in a gym will know that it can occasionally be a slightly disconcerting experience.
Sharing a two-person sauna with your other half is a totally different kettle of fish. Sweating never felt so good.
With all the facilities we could possibly want for a quiet night in, we could quite easily have settled down, closed the curtains and forgotten that the rest of the world existed, but we had a dinner date to prepare for.
So, having dragged ourselves from the warmth of the sauna – and the cabin itself – and out into the cold again, we set off for the Devonshire Arms near Bolton Abbey.
The abbey itself is a spectacular place to go for a walk and a picnic, but there was no need to pack up the hamper and flask on this occasion.
A 25-minute drive from Faweather Grange, the Devonshire Arms boasts two top-class restaurants. The Michelin-starred Burlington restaurant offers fine dining of the highest order.
Our table was in the more relaxed, less formal environs of the Devonshire Brasserie and Bar.
At one end, the Brasserie is bedecked in vivid colours more reminiscent of a hip city centre eatery than a country retreat.
We sat in the slightly more subdued – though no less convivial – surroundings at the opposite end of the restaurant.
The imaginative menu offers starters ranging from the soup of the day (£4.50) to pasta with smoked chicken, baby corn, red peppers, cream sauce and pesto (£7.95). Several of the starters can be made up as main dishes for a supplement.
We had the tempura monkfish tails with a vegetable noodle salad and sweet chilli – light, with a bit of a kick, and extremely tasty – and the chicken liver parfait, with a wholegrain mustard crust, red onion marmalade and melba toast. Delicious.
The mains of braised lamb shank hot-pot (£15.95) and pheasant breast in parma ham with chestnut mash (£15.95) were a delight.
And our desserts – a creamy, raspberry cheesecake (£5.50) and sticky toffee pudding (£4.95) – were to die for.
The Brasserie offers quality food in a relaxed environment at reasonable prices. At the end of a highly enjoyable couple of hours, we were glad we’d made the trip out.
But we were also excited to return to our little log-built haven where, after a quick night-cap, we were ready for bed.
In some ways it was unfortunate we slept so well – you feel like you want to savour every sumptuously relaxing moment at Faweather.
Sleeping almost feels like a waste.
By the time we woke up it was almost time to make a highly reluctant exit. Our night in the cabin was wonderful, but to make the most of any stay there it’s advisable to book at least two.
That would give you ample time, too, to explore the glorious Yorkshire countryside that is within striking distance.
Having said our goodbyes to the folk at Faweather, we set out with the intention of having a bracing walk on nearby Ilkley Moor. By the time we got there the weather was a little too bracing and so, after a saunter around the pretty town centre, we dropped in at the famous Bettys for afternoon tea.
It seemed as though half of Ilkley had had the same idea – there was a queue to sit down, though we arrived at the front of it within 15 minutes.
The service from that point onwards – friendly, informative and attentive – was impeccable.
We ordered two helpings of the afternoon tea. If you decide to do the same, make sure you’re hungry. The sandwiches, scone and miniature cakes that came with the tea were more than a light bite.
We couldn’t finish it all, but weren’t about to leave without the leftovers and asked for them to be boxed up to enjoy later.
If only we could have done the same with the rest of the weekend.
Faweather Grange award-winning luxury lodges, Sconce Lane, High Eldwick, near Baildon and Ilkley. One night breaks for two people start from £170. Tel: 01943 878777. Visit www.faweathergrange.com
The Devonshire Brasserie & Bar, Bolton Abbey, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 6AJ. Tel: 01756 710710. Visit www.thedevonshirearms.co.uk/brasserie-bar.cfm
Weekend afternoon tea can now be booked at Bettys in Harrogate. Visit www.bettys.co.uk
For other things to do and see visit www.yorkshire.com