A Punter’s View of The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa at Bolton Abbey, by Dave Mackay
Those in the know call Yorkshire “God’s Own Country” and if it is then The Devonshire Arms could well be the location of “God’s Own Back Garden”.
Dating back to the 1700s, it has been providing sustenance to travellers for a long time and that time hasn’t been wasted because they have got it spot on. Situated on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, close to Bolton Abbey and not too far from Skipton, it is set in large and glorious grounds and they are in turn set in even larger and more glorious countryside.
Rewinding to our arrival there was a large car park and I was tempted to stay there and just gaze at the Aston Martin DBS for the rest of our stay, but Mrs Punter persuaded me that actually going into the hotel we had booked to stay at might be a good idea.
Begrudgingly, I gave in and headed for reception and it was clear that the Devonshire is an ideal base for those wanting to indulge in “country things”. There were wellies, umbrellas and fishing poles on the way in and this place is very dog friendly.
They are quite friendly to people too; in the five minutes between being torn away from the DBS and getting our room key no less than three staff asked if we wanted a hand with our single bag. It was nice to be offered a tour of the hotel too.
We had a Deluxe Double room and I would best describe it as calming. Knowing how old the hotel is, I approached the door fearing a feast of chintz but I was pleasantly surprised.
The décor was very well thought out and gave equal weight to modernity and history. It was a good size, as was the telly, with plenty of storage and I noted that there was a gun safe in the wardrobe. The bathroom was clean and bright and they had flannels. Not enough hotels give you flannels these days. Crisps, brownies, biscuits, tea, coffee, water and milk created a real danger that the evening meal wouldn’t be required.
Thankfully, we are made of stern stuff so we were able to enjoy our meal at The Burlington (read my review here). We’d not long been in the room when we got a call from reception just checking that everything was to our satisfaction, which was a nice touch, as was the welcome letter in the room.
Cocktails in the lounge before dinner were lovely, although if you just fancy a pint then there will be a little wait as the proper drinks are in the brasserie bar, there’s no hand pumps in the cocktail lounge. Then again you wouldn’t expect there to be, unless they had espresso martinis on tap which could be dangerous.
Again, plenty of pooches around both before and after the meal. They weren’t allowed in the Burlington though, but I understand that they are allowed in the brasserie.
Suitably fed and “watered” we retired to bed. This was a warm March evening and there was no air con but we opened the windows and let the air blow through. There were no security issues either as the windows had no opening limiters on them. The bed was large and comfortable and a decent selection of pillows too.
The view from our room in the morning was stunning and almost matched the splendour of waking up next to Mrs Punter, and even enticed two hardened couch potatoes into something I am told is called “walking”.
During that experience the Aston Martin was knocked into a cocked hat when we saw the hotel’s heli-pad and helicopter.
Moving on to breakfast, they call it the most important meal of the day but in reality it is one of the meals which is the most difficult to impress with. Sausage, egg and bacon do not lend themselves to “oooh” and “aahhh” moments thus it was that breakfast at the Devonshire was “nice”.
We have eaten at a number of venues that Michelin deem worthy of celebrating but even there (with one notable exception in Hetton) breakfast has always just been “nice”. There was a delay in getting seated (probably as we plumped for the dreaded “9am” slot where the world and his dog (literally here) want feeding.
Eventually though, we were seated and there was a good range on offer and they were able to accommodate the ever “particular” Mrs Punter who wanted mushrooms with her Eggs Florentine. Speaking of eggs, the menu offered a choice of options but both the waiter and I failed to clarify my choice. Fortunately someone in the kitchen decided I would have wanted poached eggs, which would have been my choice anyway.
My full English was clearly made to order as the sausages were piping hot so I had to wait a while before eating them, a novel sensation for me. Black pudding nicely cooked, couple of eggs and a couple of bacon rashers. Brown and red sauce were provided and a few rounds of mixed toast. Mrs Punter enjoyed her “Ouefs a la Punter” although felt there was not enough hollandaise.
Checkout was a breeze and we drove away (past the Aston Martin) having had a lovely time. It almost made us want to get a dog and come back but a dog is for life, not just for the Devonshire.
And finally a review to help the canine visitors – Woof, woof woof, sniff, grrrrr, sniff. A ball! A ball!