It was definitely a first to receive a recipe card for Scottish shortbread on our Welcome tea tray on arrival at our weekend accommodation in Yorkshire.
Not what you would expect, particularly in God’s Own County (though coming from Lancashire I take issue with this often used description) – surely Yorkshire Shortbread? After all, Yorkshire makes claim to everything else! But, Hazel Manor, part of a mid-Victorian mansion almost hidden at the end of a long drive in Killinghall, just outside Harrogate, was an unexpected surprise in itself. Janet and Paul Hollins share their stylish, refurbished, home in which they offer two individual rooms on a bed and breakfast basis and a fabulous separate self-catering stable annex overlooking the garden, which is where we stayed.
There is plenty of accommodation to choose from in Harrogate, a beautiful spa town in North Yorkshire. In part, this is due to the town’s legacy of its natural spa and the Victorian passion for taking the waters. As a result, a significant number of large, grand, hotels were built to cope with the influx as well as endless guest-houses. Following the decline of the Victorian spa fad (and some of the hotels!) and the re-invention of Harrogate as one of the UK’s top conference and exhibition centres, much of the Victorian hotel stock has been updated, converted into flats or B&Bs and ‘bijou boutique’ hotels. However, they can be a tad pricey with limited availability, particularly when there’s a large exhibition on in the town and they don’t all come with upmarket facilities. Which is how I came to find Hazel Manor, following an online search for 5-star accommodation in the Harrogate area.
And 5-star accommodation it definitely is, which is reflected in the rates, though the stable block can also be booked at a cheaper self-catering rate. The stable block has been tastefully renovated with interiors that are smart, comfortable and very easy on the eye. There’s a small kitchen, shower room, an extremely comfortable lounge that leads onto a separate bedroom and a patio for al fresco dining overlooking the garden– too early in March but a lovely sun-trap in the summer.
Harrogate, a mere 2½ miles away, is a beautiful town with some splendid Victorian buildings, up-market shopping, the stunning Valley Gardens, the Stray (a large public parkland that runs through the town and always in seasonal bloom), the home of the famous Betty’s tea shop and, of course, the 120 year old spa. As well as being perfectly placed for Harrogate, Hazel Manor is also a great base for exploring the area: the Dales, Ripon Cathedral, Fountains Abbey, Ripley Castle, Knaresborough and the NHS Harlow Carr Gardens.
As a chef all her working life, Janet serves a great breakfast that knocks spots off most luxury hotel offerings. A selection of fresh fruit, cereal, pastries and a good choice of freshly prepared dishes cooked to order, including the inevitable traditional Yorkshire breakfast, Eggs Benedict, East coast kippers or pancakes with bacon and maple syrup meant we didn’t need to eat for the rest of the day. She also caters for special diets, uses locally sourced ingredients – with a wide selection of Taylor’s of Harrogate teas – and much of their seasonal produce is grown in their own greenhouse.
No surprise, then, to learn that it is Janet who bakes the most delicious Scottish shortbread in Yorkshire.
Janet’s Scottish Shortbread
250g soft butter
250g plain flour
125g corn flour
125g caster sugar
Combine all ingredients together and bake @ 180C for 10-12 minutes.
Killinghall, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
Other properties from Chrissy’s Collection:
- Chrissy’s Collection: Amangalla, Galle Fort, Sri Lanka By Chrissy Nason
- Chrissy’s Collection: Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa, West Sussex, England By Chrissy Nason
- Chrissy’s Collection: Conrad Centennial, Singapore By Chrissy Nason
- Chrissy’s Collection: Grayshott Health Spa, Surrey, England By Chrissy Nason
- Chrissy’s Collection: Heure Bleue Palais, Essaouira, Morocco By Chrissy Nason
- Chrissy’s Collection: Hotel Icon, Kowloon, Hong Kong By Chrissy Nason
- Chrissy’s Collection: House of Jasmines, Salta, Argentina By Chrissy Nason
- Chrissy’s Collection: Kasbah du Toubkal, Imlil, Morocco By Chrissy Nason
- Chrissy’s Collection: Le Temple des Arts, Ouarzazate, Morocco By Chrissy Nason
- Chrissy’s Collection: Legado Mitico, Buenos Aires, Argentina By Chrissy Nason
- Chrissy’s Collection: Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Bath, England By Chrissy Nason
- Chrissy’s Collection: Raffles, Singapore By Chrissy Nason
- Chrissy’s Collection: Rookery Hall Hotel & Spa, Nantwich, England By Chrissy Nason
- Chrissy’s Collection: Sofitel Metropole, Hanoi, Vietnam By Chrissy Nason
- Chrissy’s Collection: Sofitel Mogador Golf & Spa, Essaouira, Morocco By Chrissy Nason
- Chrissy’s Collection: The Torridon Hotel, Wester Ross, Scotland By Chrissy Nason