Words like ‘sumptuous’ and ‘opulent’ are often banded around by marketing teams, but here we use them with purpose and sincerity since it really is five-star treatment all the way at this magnificent hotel. Set within beautiful, well-tended parkland, 17th-century Grantley Hall exudes luxury, from the polite, plaid-uniformed staff to the lavish decor and furnishings within.
It’s easy to see how the transformation from a privately owned estate to a grand hotel cost such a staggering amount, since Grantley Hall possesses everything you’d expect from an upscale country house hotel, and then some.
Three restaurants, several bars, a state-of-the-art gym and spa, and even a rather tasteful nightclub are just some of the draws for the well-heeled seeking a gold-standard stay, though it’s the partnership with critically acclaimed chef Shaun Rankin that sparked our excitement.
Rankin’s fine-dining restaurant is situated at the front of the hall in a plush room that’s as warm and inviting as it is beautiful. The original ornate ceiling sports twinkling chandeliers which come together with the rich drapes and heavy, scalloped chairs to create an air of hushed serenity. This sets the scene perfectly for the parade of exquisite dishes that make up the chef’s ‘Taste of Home’ menu and expertly paired wines that, while optional, the experience really does deserve.
We opted for nine courses rather than 12, and found each one intricate and intensely flavoured, from the snacks at the start right through to the sweets at the end. Rankin’s commitment to using fresh, natural and seasonal ingredients from his native Yorkshire means he rarely ventures beyond the kitchen garden for fruit, vegetables and herbs – a detail that didn’t escape our taste buds.
From the summery ‘Kitchen Garden’ course, which had us scooping edible ‘soil’ on bite-size carrots, baby leeks and radishes (messy, but novel) to the sweet ciceley and blackberry ice cream sandwich, the freshness was delectable.
This dedication to sustainability and quality means all meat (organic, naturally), cheese and seafood is sourced from local suppliers and, like the discernibly fresh fruit and vegetables, comes through in the superb flavours. The turbot with a pistachio and pine nut crust was flawless, as was the very impressive ‘tomato’ (which was actually goat’s cheese and tomato consommé crafted to look like a shiny tomato, complete with the crunchy calyx on top).
In fact, the only course we found a tad disappointing was the bread (too large and too hot), butter (tasteless) and mushroom tea (delicious, but one element too many), though it was hardly a deal-breaker.
The paired wines, each of which was briefly described by the smiley sommelier, worked superbly with the food and gave the whole evening a lift. The genuinely lovely staff never tried to hurry us, despite our being first in and last out – an endorsement that sums up our experience nicely.