Swinton Estate is spectacularly located in the North Yorkshire countryside. An astounding 20,000 acres, the estate has a feel of a seasoned English paradise. The estate is two thirds forestry, reservoirs and farmland and one third open moorland. Bordering the Yorkshire Dales National Park, it is criss-crossed by miles of public footpaths and bridle paths and the surrounding area is full of historical places to visit. Flux visited this summer to experience the award winning idyll for ourselves, from the stunning countryside to the wonderful accommodation and food to the ecological atmosphere….Read about our trip to the estate’s Swinton Park castle hotel here…..
My introduction to the Swinton Park Luxury Castle Hotel I can only describe as quite magical.
My partner and our little girl were enjoying a horse ride at the adjoining stables and so I was looking after our little boy aged three.
We took a stroll through the side entrance into the estate and followed a path through a garden area and a couple of rickety gates where we found a sublime tree house and slide which lit up our boy’s face as he scrambled up the steps. To one side lay the ivy covered castle towers of the main Swinton Park house. On the other, parklands stretched out complete with lake, swans and small pockets of deer chomping away to their heart’s content.
We’ve visited great estates before, but here it felt like we had this vastness to ourselves. It felt quite a privilege to be in a country estate minus the tourist hoards. Later we walked into the rather grand entrance of main house hotel itself and checked in. We were taken to our rooms which were cosy and luxuriously decorated in a contemporary neutral and muted style. This was in contrast to the old school history and character of the main rooms and hallways of the house itself which retain their original country estate charm. In our rooms we had complimentary bottles of whiskey and gin laid on for us. The main bathroom was beautiful, with an enormous bath complete with Jacuzzi and rain shower.
A great aspect of the Swinton Park Estate is its Birds of Prey centre run by the friendly and professional Sophie Abbott and we got our chance to get up close and personal with a Falconry Experience. This was one of those experiences you will never forget. It was just Sophie the falconer, and of course the feathered stars of the show. With our thick leather gauntlets we got to fly a Barn Owl and later a rather grand and slightly fiercesome Harris Hawk. None of us will forget the whole experience in a hurry and at £75 it was certainly worth every penny.
Food really is a massive part of the culture at Swinton Park and dining here is something else. The laid back bar menu features classics that you can enjoy in the small side bar, or if it’s fine you can opt to be served outside at tables overlooking the lawns and the deer park. But the real knock out is the fine dining at Samuel’s Restaurant. Overseen by chef Simon Crannage, Samuel’s has won many awards for its high quality, including being cited as a “Top Scorer” by Hardens Restaurant Guides, and winning recognition as a 3 AA rosette restaurant.
The emphasis is on seasonal and local produce with a high proportion of the fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in the hotel’s four-acre walled garden which is also the source of the hotel’s flower supply (you are welcome to explore this beautiful garden and truly I’ve never seen so many butterflies in my life). The larger estate also supplies the restaurant with venison, rabbit, smoked trout and game.
The restaurant itself is an enormous, elaborate high room with mirrors, gilt, the works; the menu is full of produce from the estate. I ordered Butter Roasted Cauliflower course from the Garden Produce menu; the ingredients of which are all sourced from the restored walled garden that we’d walked around earlier in the day. Not only was it wonderful to know you are eating produce you might have clapped eyes on in the kitchen garden that day, but the food itself was sublime. The course was slightly spicy with lentils and crunchy roast almonds – a delicious combination. My main dish was the halibut, and again the quality and imagination of the dish was fantastic. Smoked garlic and almond contrasted well with the fish and the Whitby crab cake that accompanied it was subtle and delicious. The whole experience was one of relaxed luxury and you were always aware you were in hall of a great house with the parkland outside. As dusk descended we caught glimpses of deer as they crept back towards the house under the cloak of darkness much to the delight of the little ones and ourselves.
After dinner we retired to the games room. You had free reign to wander between the stately rooms and use them as your own. We had a quick game of snooker with a night cap. This is a great hotel for families, and for couples too as it’s romantic in every way. The main kick we got from staying at the Swinton Park Castle Hotel is the chance to be transported back in time and get a taste of what it must have been like living as a landed lady and gent back a century or so. The house is yours to use at your leisure such as the Georgian drawing room where you can sip on a brandy and take in the grandeur of the fireplaces and wonder at the stories of the figures in the portraits staring down at you.