Think of a chain hotel stay and the heart will generally start to sink. You begin to think beige, beige and more beige with surly staff and plastic food. The Best Western group is an exception to the rule and in particular, the Dower House at Knaresborough is a step above the norm. Originally built in the 15th century near to the attractive River Nidd, the building is Grade II listed and now presents itself, internally at least, as a cosy, modern and very comfortable place to spend a night or two. There are many different styles of rooms and even a private cottage in the grounds. The cosy bar leads on to an intimate dining room, where the food and service reach high standards. The jewel for me, however, has to be the Spa. A small swimming pool is complemented by a well equipped gym and a beautifully presented spa area. My choice would be the Fire and Ice experience, with a bravely borne rub down of crushed ice to cool the body. The tropical rainshowers and peppermint mist areas are not to be sniffed at..or maybe they are! One of the best spa experiences around. The market town of Knaresborough with its Wednesday street market, plentiful cafes, picturesque castle and boating on the Nidd are but a short stroll away. Upmarket Harrogate is only three miles away.