The Wensleydale Hotel, Middleham
Graham Clark, Features Writer
You might have visited the Wensleydale Hotel previously when it was known as The White Swan. Well, the swan has flown its nest and in its place is the rather special Wensleydale Hotel.
The hotel is run by the Merchie family whose aim is to create a small boutique style hotel in Middleham. They bought the hotel at Easter and reverted the name of the hotel back to its former name - The Wensleydale Hotel.
As well as being the owner and manager Charles is also the Head Chef and has a wealth of experience from kitchens across Europe, which he brings to Middleham.
Service seems to be of paramount importance and it is the small touches that make all the difference: after a speedy check in our bags were carried up to our room.
The rooms are gradually being updated. The Double Superior with castle view room we stayed in felt very homely. As the name suggests the room overlooked the market square with views of the castle in the distance. Complete with a 32" flat screen TV, hospitality tray, a king size bed with Egyptian cotton bed sheets and period furniture, it felt cosy and was exceptionally clean - no dust on the windowsills either as my partner observed!
There is no fridge in the room though you will find a bottle of Harrogate Spring Water at either side of the bed, one natural and one sparkling.
The bathroom has a shower over the bath and comes complete with fluffy towels and Temple Spa toiletries.
Car Parking is free in the market square just across from the hotel.
The restaurant is aptly named The Tack Room after the horse training that takes place in Middleham. The restaurant seemed popular with diners who had made a special trip there, not just hotel residents. Drinks are taken in the bar as you peruse the menu, then when you do enter the restaurant your drinks are carried to your table - see what I mean about those special touches.
It is a whole dining experience that is to be savoured along with the food. If you are after a quick fix then you are in the wrong place. Think of how the French take 2 hours to enjoy a meal and you will be on the right track.
I got the impression that some of the new staff serving are still learning their trade under the guidance of owner Charles who definitely is bringing 5 star service to Middleham.
My starter of Tuscan Bean Soup served with some of the best sourdough bread I have tasted was an ideal precursor of what was to come. My partner's Cantaloupe Melon with Dunsworth Country Ham was succulent and juicy and beautifully presented.
Mains are priced at £16.50. I decided upon the Plaice fillet with crushed potato served with Mediterranean salad. Cooked perfectly it did not disappoint. My partner's Wellington of Pork Tenderloin served with heritage carrots and fine beans was as tasty as it looked.
You could indulge yourself with the Jaffa Cake desert done Charles' way, basically it is a whole new twist on the British favourite. My partner tried the Tarte Tatin with salted ice cream but for her taste there seemed to be too much caramelised sugar.
Being a cheese lover I was impressed by the cheese board which had a strong and robust Pont L'Eveque from Normandy - one of the oldest French cheeses in production. Naturally there was a tangy Harrogate Blue and a very chalky Wensleydale. Like the rest of the menu it incorporated local produce with the best of other European food. Post Brexit will not spoil this inclusive A La Carte menu!
Breakfast is taken in the Tack Room with either a continental menu or a full English breakfast cooked to order.
Middleham Castle is a 5 minute walk away from the hotel. The childhood home of Richard III, the castle is worth a visit just for the views over the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside that you can see from one of the towers, so worth the climb and you can even see the hotel tucked commandingly in the market square.
We left The Wensleydale Hotel feeling that we had stayed in somewhere small enough to feel cosy but that has big ambitions for the future. If you are looking for 5 star service, good well presented food and made to feel like you are an individual, then The Wensleydale Hotel deserves your attention.
The Wensleydale Hotel, Market Place, Middleham DL8 4PE
Telephone 01969 622093
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The Wensleydale Hotel, Middleham, 9th October 2019, 19:36 PM