When a hotel is called the Rendezvous, there’s a certain expectation that people are going to meet up there.
And in the case of the Rendezvous at Skipton in North Yorkshire, that’s never in doubt – there’s always something going on and there’s a buzz about the place even on the quietest of days with people getting together.
It’s hard to ignore as you drive in or out of the Dales market town on the Keighley road, because it was built in warm sandstone to reflect the look of the many converted mills and warehouses in this part of the world and backs directly onto the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
It may look like it was once full of looms and clanking textile machinery, but it was tailor-made as a hotel and has none of the almost-inevitable drawbacks that come from having to make design compromises when it comes to creating 80 spacious en-suite bedrooms, a conservatory restaurant, six conference rooms, function suites for up to 300 guests and usable public spaces over five floors, let alone a swimming pool and leisure club, which includes a gym, sauna, steam room and whirlpool spa.
Phew! Yet with all that, there’s not the feeling that you’re in a great barn of a place, because although it has a light and airy feel as you walk into the atrium-like reception and lounge area, the inclusive, welcoming nature of the place comes across thanks to the friendliness of aptly-named, live-in owners Malcolm and Karen Weaving and their team of around 80 staff.
It’s a meeting place for all manner of groups as well as couples and friends, with regular jazz and swing music breaks, ballroom dancing and jive sessions, fashion and shopping weekends, cabaret tribute nights, Le Tour de Dales cycling breaks, and even tours on high-powered trikes.
I had a rendezvous there with my car, which I left in a designated space behind the hotel while I went on a five-day luxury cruise on board the 5* Lady Teal hotel boat on the canal, sailing from the Rendezvous and heading into the heart of Leeds.
It would have been equally good to stay at the Rendezvous before the cruise, but we opted to wind down and spend a night there at the end of our trip after a chauffeur-driven trip back from Leeds. We kept a link with the canal thanks to a great view over the waterway to the rolling farmland beyond through the window of our ‘Canal Facing Superior Double’, and watched the occasional boat potter its way past and negotiate the swing bridge just by the hotel.
We enjoyed a similar tranquil view when we had dinner in the Baby Swan conservatory restaurant by the waterside, with a menu spot-on for Silver Travellers – featuring a not-quite-as-tranquil but wonderful piece of retro theatre, with a splendid selection of flambé dishes prepared at the table. Great to watch an expert maitre-d’ in action, although we opted instead for something a little less flamboyant, but no less satisfying.
The menu is largely classic English, reflecting traditional demand, so prawn cocktail was a nostalgic treat not to be missed, although served contemporary style (and not in a 60s wine glass!); followed by a ‘mini’ fillet steak (4-5oz) with mushrooms, tomato and chips one diner; and honey-glazed ham with roast potatoes and vegetables for the other. Desserts also had a nod to the past as well as current tastes, but waistline pressures dictated some light-ish choices and ice creams, fancy ones, granted, were the order of the day.
As much of the menu as possible is sourced from local businesses and farms – and I’ve already made passing reference in a Blog article to the fact that the excellent food comes in what are known locally as ‘farmers’ helpings’. So you’re not talking nouvelle cuisine, but you are talking great quality – and you certainly won’t go away hungry.
Dinner over, it was time to relax with a coffee and a people-watch in the lounge, before heading for our room and a gaze at the view before bed.
The morning brought another great view as the sun came up, with swans Victoria and Albert making their stately way past the restaurant as we tackled a splendid help-yourself-to-everything breakfast before heading home.
There was a great mix of ages in the restaurant, with a significant number of grandparents and youngsters making the most of what Malcolm called their ‘greycations’ and he said that one of his great pleasures in life was hearing the words ‘granny’ and ‘grandad’ many, many times over breakfast.
The big rooms at the Rendezvous are ideal for family stays, especially with a few generations involved, and there is lift access to all floors.
If the rendezvous you have in mind is the romantic kind, you could always book the honeymoon suite – ‘the Best Room in the House’ – complete with huge canopied bed and a wonderfully decadent side-by-side spa bath built for two.
With that full of bubbles, all you need then is a glass or two full of bubbles and a smiling, bubbly companion.