STAYCATION: A weekend getaway at Ye Olde Bell Hotel & Spa
| 13th December 2018
Ye Olde Bell Hotel and Spa lies just off the A1 at Barnby Moor. While it’s possible to enjoy the spa without an overnight stay at the hotel or vice versa, it was relaxing and enjoyable to combine the two.
The hotel dates back to the 17th century and features all the charm and dark furnishings you would associate with such a period property. There’s an events space, bistro and its 1650 restaurant, as well as a bar and plenty of cosy corners to sit and enjoy a drink.
Staff welcomed us warmly and chatted about the history of the hotel while showing us to our room. It was reassuring to see that the twin room had been well thought out for a girlie getaway, with the two beds at different sides of the room. So often the beds are squeezed in next to each other, but that wasn’t the case here.
In the immaculate en suite bathroom, there was a little display of Duck Island cosmetics to enjoy during our stay. Tea, coffee and hot chocolate facilities in the bedroom were finished off with the final touch of individually packaged shortbread biscuits in the shape of a bell.
Safe to say that we had a comfortable night’s sleep, once we had removed some of the vast number of pillows on the beds. We did need to have the bedroom window open all night, as Ye Olde Bell Hotel is particularly well heated.
Our evening meal in the 1650 restaurant was pleasant, but could have been more refined. The twice-baked soufflé was served in a bowl, as opposed to a ramekin, making it rather large for a starter. After such a big and rich starter, the tortellini main seemed a bit heavy and rich too and it was a creamy course too far when it came to the rose water and citrus posset for dessert.
My companion said her burger was good, although the bun was on a bit of the big side. She had no complaints about the sticky toffee pudding and looked like she might have licked the plate if we hadn’t been in such fine surroundings!
Breakfast the next morning was also served in the restaurant and included a wide selection of options. Fresh fruit, yoghurt, granola, pastries and juice were all laid out on the bar and the cooked menu had plenty of choice. As a pescatarian, it was refreshing to see more than just the usual smoked salmon or vegetarian options on the menu.
The smoked haddock with still-runny poached eggs were delicious and my companion enjoyed her soft-boiled eggs with a mound of toast soldiers. Fresh coffee and tea was also brought to the table. It was nice to have been seated at a large table, instead of a small two-seater, so we could relax and eat our breakfast without feeling cramped.
Ye Olde Bell’s spa is in a separate building right next to the hotel and when you walk in, you’re greeted by a bright, expansive reception area. We checked in and were shown to seats in the beautifully furnished bar area, where glasses of water were brought to us while we filled in the health questionnaires.
The central attraction is the pool, which has both indoor and outdoor sections, and you can swim between them. Various buttons around the pool allow you to transform the submerged seats into your own personal hot tubs, with bubbles massaging different parts of the body.
Every element of Ye Olde Bell Spa has been carefully considered, with many of the features providing little surprises. It was redone in 2017 and is absolutely immaculate. Instead of simply having a ladle to spoon water onto the hot coals in the sauna, one of the three saunas has a central stone area where an intricate system sees a basket of hot coals plunged into a basin of water every time the temperature drops.
Among the cold experiences is a passageway where it snows at the push of a button. You can opt for a classic downpour or a blizzard. In another area, you pass through a series of showers, each one consisting of a different intensity of water, temperature and sounds. My particular favourite was a tropical mist, accompanied by birdsong.
The overwhelming feeling that came from the spa experience was that of attention to detail. From the little pouch in each of the lockers for you to put your jewellery in down to the one-way glass in the saunas, Ye Olde Bell has been designed to meet every need of the customer, even the things you wouldn’t have thought of yourself!
While the idea of a spa butler sounds a little over-the-top, they pitched themselves at exactly the right level of attentiveness. Being brought an elderflower cooler cocktail while lounging on a heated recliner next to the outside section of the pool was sheer decadence. The butlers would also periodically pop their heads into the saunas to ask if we wanted a drink.
Lunch at the Garden Brasserie was fresh and delicious. There’s something luxurious about sitting in a fluffy robe while you tuck into your meal. You get to choose your dishes from three categories, which start off light and get more decadent as you progress through the menu. My fish was cooked perfectly and I was glad not to have overeaten when we returned to the swimming pool.
The following day we went back to the spa building for our treatments, which were carried out in the specially designed rooms upstairs. Ye Olde Bell offers a wide selection of treatments, including a beach-themed vitamin D group option and a mud scrub in specially designed and themed rooms.
We were led into private rooms to have our Turkish-inspired treatment, which is a combination of manipulating the body with lengths of silk, followed by a more traditional massage. It started with being stroked all over with a black ostrich feather and a spritz of room spray. Germaine de Capuccini products were used throughout and they smell absolutely delicious. By the end of my treatment I was feeling pampered and relaxed, not wanting to start the journey home.
Viva verdict: Ye Olde Bell Hotel and Spa is a fantastic place to relax and be indulged. The charming hotel is full of character, but the modern spa, with all its surprises, is the absolute highlight of a visit to Barnby Moor.
Ye Olde Bell Hotel and Spa
For reservations call 01777 705121
Follow @yeoldebellhotel and @yeoldebellspa on Instagram
Words and images by Emma Dodd.