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Black Swan - Review

IT’S HARD TO MISS THE BLACK SWAN as you sail into the Yorkshire market town of Helmsley. Minutes from the north Yorkshire moors, this pleasing former coaching inn sits centre stage on the town square. 

Once a rectory dating back to Tudor times, the Black Swan has that country-cosy feel – plenty of Yorkshire stone, dark beams, cosy corners and cute teddy bears.

Just around the corner from its illustrious sister hotel the Feversham Arms, the Black Swan doesn’t pretend to be in quite the same chic boutique league. But a new round of refurbishment is turning this once rather dated duckling into an altogether sleeker Swan, with appealing results.

Corners and crannies

Parts of the creeper-clad Yorkshire stone inn are nearly 500 years old, and new wings added over the decades are linked by a trail of corridors, nooks and crannies. Forgotten something? It may be quite a trek back to reception.

Bedrooms – complete with teddy bear, and named after the Yorkshire dales – vary in size and style, though all have plump pillows and comfy chairs. We liked those in the newer wing with their pretty garden views, although those overlooking the market square have old-world charm, with beamed ceilings and crooked floors. Bathrooms are stocked with Pecksniff’s Mood Therapy goodies.

Downstairs, you can relax in a sofa-lined lounge with black beams and a crackling fire in winter. Time for tea? Get your fix in the Black Swan tearoom – all rustic panelled walls, wood floors and wickedly calorific cakes. Nibble at some chocolate truffles or bite into a toasted teacake at this delicious little patisserie with its open fire.
All is crisply smart at the Black Swan’s Rutland restaurant, with its linen tablecloths, high-backed chairs and views over the garden. You’ll soon be able to have a post-dinner chaser in the new horseshoe shaped bar, opening shortly.

Outside are pretty walled gardens – scattered with tables and chairs – and just the place for that shared jug of Pimm’s on a summer evening. And you can trot through the churchyard to the fabulous Verbena Spa at sister hotel the Feversham Arms for a pampering workover the next day.

The Black Swan was reviewed for Room for Romance by Tim Treyman

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