The prospect of visiting a former Water Training Institute and Ambulance Training School for afternoon tea did not fill me with anticipation, and I dare say, it would do nothing for you either.
That was the reality however and I was not looking forward to it very much.
A glass of water and first aid anyone?
On entering the drive into eight acres of parkland, my hopes began to rise, but the appearance of a Victorian brick built mansion with a modern conservatory to the front and a utilitarian rear extension accommodation block, also in brick, levelled my hopes again.
Still, appearances can be deceptive I told myself. Maybe the ugly duckling would turn out to be a swan in the end. Hans Christian Anderson could strike again.
This property underwent a planning application which was granted in 2006 and a £4m programme of extension and refurbishment turned it into a hotel with wedding and conference facilities.
It is now operated under the Best Western banner and has 94 bedrooms consisting of doubles, twins, executive and family rooms with some suites. It is popular for weddings too.
The appropriately named Burn Hall (was someone giving a nod to both of the previous usages or just having a laugh?), on the outskirts of York, has the tagline ‘Yorkshire Hotel, Yorkshire Welcome, Yorkshire Hospitality’ and so set the self imposed bar high for my visit.
The hotel faces out onto lawned gardens with an outdoor terrace. On entering the reception area we were quickly greeted and our business ascertained in a friendly manner.
Initial impressions are that the interior is clean, well maintained and fresh looking.
All paintwork, walls and furniture looked attractive and the colour scheme was white, light browns and grey. Moving further into the hotel to the bar lounge I found it maintained to the same standards. I couldn’t help feeling that it lacked character however, though there was nothing wrong with it in fact.
The lone barman/waiter appeared shortly and was polite but without a smile.
Service was perfunctory and he did not engage with any of the customers throughout our visit.
Not quite the Yorkshire hospitality I was expecting and a bit of a let down to be honest.
The afternoon tea was good, with egg mayo (yawn), coronation chicken and salmon finger sandwiches, warm scones with jam and cream and a selection of petit fours.
This would have been a little expensive at £15 per head full price, but luckily we had vouchers.
Perusing the menu I obtained, starters were around the £6 mark and mains £15 – £17ish for the usual suspects, though having filled ourselves with the afternoon tea, we were in no position to sample the meals.
Having dallied over the occasion, we eventually heaved ourselves out into the late afternoon sunshine. The overall experience was ok, but in all honesty there are better afternoon teas available at cheaper prices locally. I can see why the place is popular for functions and weddings and I am sure they are fine.
As a one-off experience there was nothing at all wrong with it, just the sparkle was lacking.
The hotel is handily placed for all the delights of York – The National Railway Museum being a must- as well as short drives to Castle Howard (Brideshead Revisited), and the delightful market towns of Helmsley and Thirsk. For further details go to www.burnhallhotelyork.com and follow the sat-nav directions to YO61 1JB.