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Annabelle Hood heads toYorkshire’s picture-box town of Helmsley to try out The Feversham Arm’s Verbena Spa. When I think of the quintessentially quaint English village, I envisage a cobbled town square hosting a farmer’s market, picture-box galleries, bookshops, antique stalls, and an oak-beamed pub furnished with hanging flower baskets....

Picture-box Perfect Pampering

Annabelle Hood heads toYorkshire’s picture-box town of Helmsley to try out The Feversham Arm’s Verbena Spa.

When I think of the quintessentially quaint English village, I envisage a cobbled town square hosting a farmer’s market, picture-box galleries, bookshops, antique stalls, and an oak-beamed pub furnished with hanging flower baskets. I imagine a wedding party spilling from an impossibly handsome church and behind that, a pretty York-stone hotel with a foyer adorned with award-winning trophies. This is precisely the scene that heralded my friend and me to Yorkshire’s Helmsley market town.

A little wobbly from the squiggly roads that we’d taken from York via Howard Castle and Ampleforth’s eyecatching Abbey, we sat down for a treacle-strong pot of tea by the small outdoor pool; a pot of wild lavender teeming with industrious bees beside us. The pool and courtyard form the central focus of the hotel with rooms and suites positioned around it, so those who are shy may prefer to swim, as we did, first thing in the morning when the pool area is quieter.


A private staircase led us straight from the pool up to our charismatic Junior Poolside Suite – an enchanting higgledy-piggledy warren of rooms built into the eaves of the property: At one end of our suite was a sloped-ceiling en suite, home to a Victorian roll-top bath and separate walk-in shower. Further along the creaking passage was a small children’s room and a sloped-ceiling sitting room with a desk, slouchy sofa and real-log fireplace. Split-level steps led down to our bedroom and there was another en suite shower at the other end. Two bedrooms and a bathroom each felt deliciously decadent.

Those preferring higher ceilings and modern décor can request the contemporary Spa Suites – airy and high-ceilinged rooms with sliding room dividers and outdoor balconies. But it was the row of quaint “cottages” 21-25 that won our hearts with their pretty private patios festooned with wild flowers. Lawrence Dallaglio (a former pupil at neighbouring Ampleforth College) had discreetly checked in to one of them, but he kept himself to himself, which you happily can at The Feversham Arms.

The hotel General Manager is a warm and charming food-loving Belgian, so it’s little wonder that the hotel restaurant proudly boasts no less than 3 AA rosettes. We couldn’t resist the very reasonably-priced Tasting Menu (£55) offering umpteen courses of enticing delicacies, from a superlight truffle risotto to foie gras mousse to start, to a fiendishly moreish passion fruit and coconut pudding and petit-fours to round off with.


The next day I was really looking forward to conking out in the Verbena Spa, where I was booked in for a three-part 90-minute Elemis signature treatment devised exclusively for the Verbena Spa (the Spa’s other brand is Anne Sémonin).

Pre-treatment, I headed to the sunny outdoor decking area with a wooden hot tub equipped with two rigorous massage jets – which was slightly let down by a fuzzy coating to the wood that needed a good scrub. Then again, I’m not a huge fan of Jacuzzis at the best of times and frankly if that’s the pickiest thing I could find, the spa got my thumbs up. My companion and I then headed to the spa’s wet area that was laid out in the round, with a couple of Kneipp foot baths that you filled yourself, there was a standard dry sauna, tepidarium (supposedly essential-oil infused, but I couldn’t detect any), salt steam room, cool/warm ‘tropical’ shower and ice fountain.

The relaxation area was pleasingly magazine-filled, but it was soon time for my treatment and the friendly Yorkshire girls on reception invited me to complete an impressively thorough health questionnaire, presenting me with a homebrewed, Yorkshire-strength brew of black fruit tea that seemed to brim with nutrients it was so dark.


This lovely signature treatment incorporated a trio of my favourite treatments (body scrub, hot stone massage and radiance facial) and I slept like a newborn that night. I would go so far as to say this relaxing, beautiful boutique hotel is reason in itself to head to North Yorkshire.

The Feversham Arms Hotel and Verbena Spa,1-8 High Street
Helmsley
North Yorkshire
YO62 5AGTel: 01439 770766 www.fevershamarmshotel.com

Petite Double Rooms cost from £100 and Junior Suites from £300 a night,
Verbena Spa Signature Face and Body Bliss, £85 for 90mins.
Verbena Spa reservations: Tel: 01439 772 930
Spa Opening Hours:
Monday to Wednesday: 9am – 7pm

Thursday: 9am – 9pm
Friday to Sunday: 9am – 7pm

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