The heady smell of wood smoke filled the air as a fug of fog hugged the rooftops when we arrived at this grand Georgian country estate.
It all added to the atmosphere of seclusion at Middleton Lodge - despite it being just a five minute drive off the A1. Not that this bolthole near Richmond in North Yorkshire needs any more charm.
When it comes to attention to detail you’ll be hard-pushed to find a venue that does it quite like the site’s Coach House conversion.
Standing in the shadow of the main house, a popular wedding venue, the Coach House is now a luxury venue in its own right after being sympathetically converted into a restaurant, treatment rooms and accommodation by the owners of this picturesque 200-acre estate.
Where once it would have housed the carriages and horses of the estate’s owner, it’s now a set of nine beautifully-decorated rooms, each given a quintessentially English theme of its own.
In keeping with the venue’s equestrian history, we stayed in the Tack Room. Gone are the saddles and stirrups to be replaced by a crisp blue and white theme, where cushions are emblazoned with the distinctive blue Willow pattern while bookshelves are propped by navy leather-bound copies of Dickens classics.
Look up and you’ll see the heavy oak rafters which have stood the test of time in a room which doffs its cap to its heritage.
It’s a theme that flows into the bathroom, a huge room featuring Moorish-inspired ocean blue tiling, a walk in shower, grand roll top bath and a period fireplace. There’s even sinks for two, though you could have fitted sinks for four in this huge bathroom of dreams.
If the rooms aren’t enough to draw you here, the restaurant and bar, which is open to non-residents, probably will.
Created in the former carriage house, it still bears small marks and indents from the horses and coaches on its original plasterwork, which all adds to its rich sense of history.
Of course, there’s more modern day features too, such as plush seating you can sink into, industrial chic-style light fittings and shelving filled with a curiosity shop of trinkets and glassware.
The site’s individual identity has also been stamped on the food menu where ingredients are sourced from surrounding Yorkshire produce and, where possible, the immediate sprawling grounds.
Take my mains for instance: venison saddle with blackberry vinegar with cavolo nero and almond granola (£20). Meat and sweet granola isn’t something I’d usually put together, but it’s a quirk that works! The crunch of the granola gave an added layer of texture to the succulent venison and was a surprising complement to this dense cut.
Back to the beginning, to start I chose the mushroom veloute with crispy egg yolk and pickled mushroom (£6). The French sauce was poured over the egg at the table to create a velvety swirl around the crispier centrepiece. It was a beautifully-rich start to the proceedings.
We were too stuffed for pudding, but the sweet treats being whisked past us certainly looked mouth-watering.
Instead we retired to the bar area, which wouldn’t look out of place in a big city with its trendy exposed brickwork, lightbulbs strung on rope and impressively-stocked bar. The mixologists are experimental here and were more than happy to whip something up specific to our palates. Want a extra hit of chilli in your Wee Bit Chilli cocktail, a blend of Hendrick Gin, elderflower syrup, lime and chilli? Not a problem.
Much like the rest of Middleton Lodge, our barman made sure it was just right.