Ashmount Country House – Hotel Review
By Emma Rowbottom
Arriving in Haworth is always like stepping back in time. The birthplace of the Brontë sisters – the nineteenth-century literary heroines Charlotte, Anne and Emily – is an area steeped in history and one that provided the backdrop to many of the novels penned by the talented trio and has become a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
At the heart of quaint and cobbled Haworth lies Ashmount Country House. The former home of Dr Amos Ingham, physician to Patrick Brontë and his daughter Charlotte, the house, much like the area, is shrouded in history. The Victorian villa has been home to mill owners, doctors, academics and war heroes over the years, now taking residence as a B&B that boasts AA Five Star and Visit Britain 5 Star Gold rated rooms. The venue is also one of the few establishments in the UK that’s carries an AA Breakfast Award.
The house boasts original architecture and 12 rooms in total. There are painted glass windows, original fireplaces, four-poster beds and an array of antique furniture. All en suites offer either adjustable jet power showers or Jacuzzi baths. It also enjoys extensive and panoramic views across the Pennine moors. This is a real treat as the night draws in and hundreds of houses across the wild and windy moors light up. Guests can choose from rooms in the main house or the former gardeners and chauffeurs cottages. Our room – The Greenwood – had a very olde-worldy feel. Those stunning views across the brooding moors are particularly good for watching the sunrise, as well as the many birds. We saw a cuckoo swoop in and out of a large old oak tree in the garden.
While some rooms boast luxurious hot tubs The Greenwood was sadly lacking. However, rooms can be located and chosen on the website. So those looking to relax after long walks on the moors can pick a room boasting amenities that fit their requirements. Our room was cosy and clean and while Victoriana isn’t really my cup of tea design wise, it does offer guests free wifi and complimentary sherry. Homemade shortbread biscuits were a tasty and very welcome treat. The four-poster bed was very comfortable too.
While Ashmount might not offer the slick, superior service associated with premium hotels, the staff were friendly and accommodating. The venue is the perfect place for those looking for a more bijou, eclectic dwelling while indulging in their passion for literature within the historic, quaint and cobbled streets of Haworth. If Victoriana is your thing – Ashmount will most definitely appeal.
Ashmount offers some of the best, locally-sourced produce in its restaurant, The Dining Room. It boasts beautiful views across the garden and the Haworth countryside. Working with local suppliers, the mouth-watering menu really is its reason d’être. It is carefully put together by queen of the Haworth dining scene and head chef Sara Knighton. She is the jewel in Ashmount’s culinary crown. The menu offers seasonal delights, such as my choice of a delicious salmon and lemon terrine. It comes with a warm horseradish potato salad and caper berries. Or there is the galantine of chicken and Goosnargh duck breast, homemade chutney and melba toast.
As with all good dining stories however, this is only the beginning. Principal dishes are delightfully sourced and ingredients considerately combined. Offerings include poached cod with a herb crust, buttered new potatoes and sautéed spinach, green beans, slow roast tomato and parsley sauce. While my choice of Ellisons aged fillet steak, succulent slow cooked beef shoulder, garlic and thyme pomme puree, baby leeks and turnips with red wine jus tasted divine.
“Life in a bygone era”
If there is enough room – as there somehow always is – desserts vary from milk chocolate delice with white chocolate cream to red fruit compote and tempered chocolate. Or there is my choice of a selection of Ashmount local cheeses with homemade chutney. The hotel also offers breakfast. This can be taken downstairs or delivered in a wicker hamper to your room. It also offers afternoon tea. However, this must be booked in advance, as we discovered on arrival.
The surrounding area of Haworth is only a few minutes walk, however, and there are a whole host of quaint and quirky tea shops and eateries lining its cobbled streets, as well as an old fashioned sweet shop and Rose & Co apothecary, which was full to bursting with tourists when we visited, our stay coinciding with Haworth’s Christmas market weekend. With many of the Christmas market stall owners opting for traditional Victorian dress it really was like walking in a Brontë wonderland. A true taste of life in a bygone era.
Tradition truly lies at the very heart of Haworth. Ashmount Country House is doing its best to remain sympathetic to its history and heritage. Those looking for a true taste of Brontë land would be well placed to visit. Friendly staff and mouth-watering food (along with an honesty bar for residents – a nice touch for those looking for a pre-dinner drink) combine to make guests feel relaxed and at home. If you’re a fan of the Brontës, a visit to Haworth should most definitely be on your literature hit list in 2013.
Ashmount Country House, Mytholmes Lane, Haworth, West Yorkshire, BD22 8EZ
01535 645 726