My great passion in life is travel - abroad and in the UK - finding new places and spreading the word. Because of that passion I've also come to love a good hotel. I used to be happy (and occasionally still am in the warm weather) with a sleeping bag and a tent but these days you'll more often find me looking for something a bit special - boutique hotels and beautiful places to stay with all mod cons and that little bit extra something.
We were recently lucky enough to spend a night at Ox Pasture Hall, near Scarborough in beautiful North Yorkshire and I can honestly say, it was one of the loveliest places we've stayed in a long while! We turned up after a difficult weekend - initially cancelling and then rebooking, which didn't phase Lynsey on reception just one bit. She took it all in her stride and welcomed us with kind words and open arms, including our dogs in the very warm welcome and going the extra mile by serving our afternoon tea in our room so we could have a bit of quiet time.
The tea itself was superb - lovely fresh sandwiches (with their crusts cut off as is traditional!), a selection of gorgeous cakes including lots of yummy chocolate but also an AMAZING mini mango tart (fortunately there were two of everything or there could have been a fight!) and two enormous scones with a very generous pot of cream as well as jam and butter! All this on top of being slightly overwhelmed by the size of our suite, which was, quite frankly, almost as big as the downstairs of our house! The decor was really soothing - sand coloured with cream and sage linen and curtains and beautiful honey coloured wood. We had an enormous lounge with a great sound system, TV, dining table and very comfy sofa, a bedroom with a huge bed (and second TV - luxury!), and a superb luxury marble bathroom with THE most amazing taps on the bath and sink as well as a wet-room type shower! Nothing had been missed, with lots of extra touches - a fan for summer, heater for winter and lovely bath robes for after your soak!
We needed a pet friendly hotel as we were accompanied by our two Scottie dogs. Lots of hotels say they accept dogs but this one genuinely loves them. All the staff make a fuss of them and we were seated in an area of the Bistro with extra space for dogs. There's a lounge area next to the bistro with an open fire and, in fact the only place our pooches couldn't go was the restaurant. Not only that, but, as the hotel is located in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and only two miles from Scarborough, there are moorlands, woods and beaches galore to walk your four legged friends! The beauty of our suite was that it backed onto a lake owned by the hotel as well as having a courtyard at the front where they could run out for a quick night-time walk.
It's hard to describe how peaceful Ox Pasture Hall is. Surrounded by fields, we woke to the sound of bleating sheep just outside our window. Lynsey and Shaun, the owners, are completely in tune with this and have set up benches and seating areas around the grounds - perfect for reading or just contemplating the landscape. There are lots of little touches throughout the hotel like this, which show just how much thought they have put into it.
We were looking forward to dinner but hadn't really taken on board what a reputation the hotel has for being one of the best restaurants in the Scarborough area. The head chef is renowned for cooking fabulous food and the modern creative menus are packed with local and regional produce showcasing the best of Yorkshire food and we were blown away by our meal. We both loved our choices but my salmon with horseradish ice-cream starter was out of this world and I think my duck leg was probably the best I'd ever had. I was determined to resist dessert but Jason, who was looking after us, brought two spoons for Cookie's Caribbean Cocktail, including creamy mango rice pudding, coconut pannacotta, passion fruit sorbet and pina colada - dreamy!
Obviously, I was also looking at Ox Pasture in terms of a wedding venue and I think it's pretty perfect. Set in 17 acres of secluded grounds with stunning panoramic views of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, the hotel can cater for almost any type of wedding from large, exclusive use; Asian and multicultural weddings; outdoor nuptials; evening receptions and small intimate affairs including civil partnerships and wedding vow renewals. The venue also lends itself to seasonally themed weddings - think winter snow or spring flowers. What I love is that the hotel has lots of character areas but also some barn-like rooms which are perfect for decorating in whatever style and colour you choose (I couldn't help but picture Mabel, our vintage bike, sat outside in the courtyard). There are several courtyards with fountains - perfect for photographs and, in fact, you can take a look at their wedding gallery for inspiration but here's a peek at a few past weddings.
If you're looking for a venue in beautiful surroundings, with amazing food, friendly staff who go that extra mile and will help make your day really special, as well as incredibly comfortable accommodation and a fabulous 'morning after' breakfast I really think it's you couldn't ask for more.
We left the next morning feeling properly rested after a great night's sleep on a wonderfully comfortable (and enormous!) bed. My only grumble was that we couldn't stay another night!
We made a 10 minute detour into Scarborough (where I spent many happy childhood summer holidays) for a walk on the beach before heading off back down the motorway and back into the 'real' world. I've already recommended Ox Pasture Hall to a couple of friends who are looking for a break from the rat race and it's definitely on our 'return' list.
I'd love to hear from anyone who gets married there - I think it would be pretty darn magical!