Visiting a hotel for the first time is rather like going to see a three act play at the theatre. You arrive full of excitement and anticipation, and settle down for the show. The first act often bowls you over with spectacle and sensory overload, the second act often fails to follow this up, and the third act leaves you feeling like you’ve seen it all before.
Modern hotels are all front. The wow you with an enormous foyer, often with a grand staircase and maybe even a chandelier, then when you get to your room, you are disappointed, as it’s all rather bland, and you get that sense of déjà vu, where you feel sure that you’ve stayed in this same hotel room many times before.
The Talbot Hotel in Malton, North Yorkshire is very different to just about any hotel that I’ve ever stayed in. From the outside the hotel looks rather unprepossessing, with its regular Georgian exterior, and they don’t bother with any fancy reception area, it’s tucked away in an alcove under the stairs.
But when you arrive at your room, that is when you see difference. I stayed in the Lambton, one of the hotel’s feature rooms. As soon as you enter you are aware that this hotel simply oozes style. The furniture and soft furnishings look so inviting that you can’t wait to get stretched out on the comfortable sofa. There are four feature rooms at the hotel and each room has been individually designed and is upholstered to its own theme with unique wall paper and colour schemes. All of the feature rooms are appointed with 6ft beds (Rockingham has a four poster bed), garden views, feature artwork, luxury marble bathrooms with shower and bath. Original room features including chandeliers and fireplaces.
There are no tea making facilities in the rooms, the Talbot believe that if you want tea or coffee, you want it freshly made, so you simply ring reception and within ten minutes, they will deliver to your room, either a pot of hot tea, with plenty of fresh milk too, and a sugar bowl complete with tongs, or coffee which arrives freshly percolated in a cafetiere. Surprisingly there is no extra cost for this service. If you prefer, you can take your tea in the sumptuous drawing room. This room is an absolute delight with current magazines, and daily papers available to read while you enjoy your drinks. There is also a selection of games here too.
If the foyer is act one, and the rooms act two, then wait for the final act to unfold, which is the incredible James Martin menu. Unlike chain hotels which leave you feeling underwhelmed, the Talbot’s food will have you on your feet applauding wildly, and shouting for more.
I ate in the restaurant on my first night, and yes, James Martin really is the executive chef. Everything on the menu has been prepared by the great man himself. I went for the Gressingham duck for starters, which looked amazing and tasted superb. For main course I tried the halibut with wilted spinach. The fish was cooked superbly, and the taste was incredible. Other meals on the menu included pan fried wreck fish, and Riggwelter beer braised beef cheek. The buttermilk panna cotta with Yorkshire rhubarb was the perfect end to my meal, which, and is available to non-residents too.
There is a small, but well stocked bar in the hotel, which serves Black Sheep ale. I can particularly recommend the 2010 Riesling naked grape, which is a very delightful German wine.
Breakfast at the Talbot is another feather in the cap. Not just fresh fruit but specialties such as earl grey prunes, and sweet spice apricots grace the menu. Everything is locally sourced, Whitby kippers, Kirkbymoorside salmon, and even the honey was from a local beekeeper. A full Talbot was exactly that, and the Talbot bacon buttie contained loads of bacon with homemade spicy chutney in a huge floury bap. Toast was exactly as it should be, warm, and served with butter at room temperature. A small thing maybe, but one which most hotels get very wrong.
On my second night I ate in the conservatory. This is the more informal option, with a limited menu at everyday prices. The conservatory area is a wonderful space, which is flooded with natural light from the glass roof. It’s cool, airy and spacious, and fells like sitting outside on a pleasant summer’s evening. I went for the fish and chips, served Talbot style on a wooden bread board with minted crushed peas, and rapeseed oil tartare. Wonderful! This was followed by the white chocolate and whisky croissant butter pudding with vanilla ice cream. A culinary delight.
If you don’t want to stay at the hotel during the day time, the Coastliner bus stops right outside and will take you directly to the cosmopolitan city of Leeds, or to historic York. If the seaside is more your thing, then different buses will take you to either Whitby, Scarborough or Bridlington. If you have your own transport then try Castle Howard, one of the world’s top ten magnificent houses, which is only five miles down the road.
The staff at the Talbot were all excellent, and genuinely seem to care about their customers. If any member of staff sees you carrying luggage, they offer to help, if they see you in the drawing room, they will offer you tea, and if they see you in the bar they will chat with you.
The Talbot deservedly has an excellent reputation, and I can see why, it is a luxury hotel in every sense of the word, and a hotel I can recommend wholeheartedly.
The Talbot Hotel
Malton, North Yorkshire, England