Phileas French

Travel Writer

Phileas French

Phileas French

Travel Writer | Exploring every country in the world, one adventure at a time

Great Hoteliers' Stories: The Yorke Arms

The Yorke Arms main image

The Yorke Arms

This utterly idyllic Great Inn of Britain was built as a coaching house and shooting lodge that will celebrate its bicentenary next year. Resident, and legendary, chef Frances Atkins was awarded a Michelin star eight years ago, and I had the great pleasure of enjoying a meal there recently as part of the Great Inns of Britain and Historic Hotels of Europe event.

The Historic Hotels of Europe menu we were served was absolutely sumptuous, and as someone who eats out far too frequently, especially in London, it was categorically the best meal that I have had this year.

After Champagne Gardet, Premier Cru and canapés we enjoyed an amuse bouche of grapefruit jelly, artichoke roche and basil. This was followed by Whitby crab, dukkah and smoked halibut, accompanied by asparagus and pea. Next came wild herb crusted local Nidderdale lamb, with delectable sweetbread, morel, spring vegetables and quince jelly. To finish there was Yorkshire tea brack, orange chocolate, salted caramel, and what we all agreed were the best wild strawberries that we had ever tasted. Infusions and petit fours finished off the feast.

The Yorke Arms side image three

Frances is also to be commended for sponsoring up-and-coming apprentice chefs, and the owners are delighted with Roger, the latest addition to the kitchen team, who has the privilege of being trained directly by Frances, one of only six Michelin-starred female chefs in Britain.

The Yorke Armes’ resident sommelier had carefully selected wines for each course: Wild Rock, The Infamous Goose, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, 2011 for the crab, Mapu, Cabernet Sauvignon, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, 2010 for the lamb and the really exquisite Champagne Millisime Rose de Saignee, Charles Gardet, Premier Cru 2005 to accompany dessert.

With such a dining experience on offer it’s hard not to fixate on it, but that would be to the detriment of the beautiful rooms and unbelievable natural setting. There are carefully furnished and appointed rooms plus a new space, Ghyll Cottage, over the road. They have recently built four new suites in the back of the hotel; two of them are duplex suites and there is an accessible suite as well.

The Yorke Armes makes full use of the natural bounty on its doorstep, as I learned from co-owner Bill Atkins, a memorably charming and articulate host who had me alternately listening attentively and collapsed with laughter at his stories.

All the nearby moors are used for commercial shooting: partridge, pheasant and, a particular speciality of  The Yorke Arms, grouse. A daily fresh fish delivery arrives, including crab from Whitby and other Yorkshire fruits of the sea. Beef is grown just up the road and they have a butcher in Ridley. They have about seven local suppliers, plus that day they had been foraging for wild garlic!

The inn is set in the tiny and beautiful village of Ramsgill, with “gill” meaning a beck or burn. The gill was engineered so that it never floods and it now forms a splendid backdrop to the lovely gardens. Bill is very discreet indeed about his client list, but with a helipad and facilities of this standard there are sure to be famous faces passing through. There have only been about ten owners in the history of this wonderful retreat, and it’s hard to believe that any of them could have had more stellar achievements than Frances and Bill.

The Yorke Arms side image one
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