Ryedale House, Helmsley – Hotel Review


By Angie Aspinall

When you travel frequently for business or pleasure, you can sometimes miss that homely feeling. Hotels can seem too anonymous and they may begin to merge into one homogenous mass in your memory. You may miss having someone to talk to over breakfast or you may simply be a people person who enjoys the company of others. If this rings a bell with you, then it could be time for you to try a stay in a Wolsey Lodge.

ryedale house living roomWolsey Lodges is a company which brings together hosts with beautiful, stylish, characterful homes and discerning guests. Guests are welcomed into the family home of the hosts, much as Cardinal Wolsey would have been on his travels. Elegant drawing rooms, cosy snugs, private gardens are all on offer to guests who are encouraged to mingle and get to know one another over dinner, supper and breakfast, such as you would at a house party of a friend or relative. That’s the great thing about a stay at a Wolsey Lodge; you never know who you might meet.

As we draw up outside Ryedale House for our first Wolsey Lodge experience, we have to double check the photo on the website. With the stunning Georgian house before us we make sure we are in the right place. Being a Wolsey Lodge, rather than a standard B&B, means Ryedale House has no sign outside. You visit as guests of the family. And, in this case, it’s a very well-connected family indeed. The owners are The Honourable Michael and Debbie Howard (Michael grew up in nearby Castle Howard).

“Sumptuous potions”

ryedale house dining roomDebbie, and her gorgeous little Tibetan spaniels, greet us like old friends – or soon to be new friends. We are shown to our room, which is on the first floor. It is a beautiful, light and airy room. Elegantly furnished in a traditional style in keeping with the period of the house. The private bathroom adjacent to our room is simply huge and finished in a modern style. There is a free-standing bath and double sink and shower. Debbie has left out Prada bath salts and sumptuous potions and lotions, just as she would for family friends and relatives.

Likewise, in the bedroom, there is a vase of flowers. They are freshly picked from the garden. There is also a couple of family photos, just as you would have if you we’re inviting your friends to stay in your home. The welcome tray includes chocolates and fresh milk. The bedside clock is by Cartier and the bed is super king size. The most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. Luxury!

After freshening up and dressing for dinner, we enjoy an evening stroll around the picturesque market town of Helmsley. We pick up a bottle of wine en route as Ryedale House does not have a license. Guests wanting wine to accompany supper must provide their own. Guests then relax in the lounge or garden or watch television in the snug rather than feeling like they must retire to their rooms. Debbie and Michael’s lounge is the perfect blend of elegance and comfort. As elsewhere in the house, exquisite antiques and art are on display. Yet the atmosphere is relaxed and informal rather than formal or imposing.


ryedale house foodDebbie was keen to share her ideas for transforming the lounge and dining room. Both are due to be redecorated this summer. She gets ‘hands on’ with the decorating and her flair for interior design is evident. She is also a fabulous host and a great cook. We enjoyed a delicious two course supper of salmon marinated with subtle oriental spices and lime juice. It was accompanied by salads and potatoes, followed by summer fruits with meringue.

Breakfast, the following morning, was as superb as our supper. Fresh fruit salad and cereals to start and full English breakfasts to follow. If you are looking for somewhere elegant to stay in Helmsley, and you prefer the personal touch of a Wolsey Lodge, why not try Ryedale House?

To check availability or to book a stay at Ryedale House, visit: wolseylodges.com.

Photos by Richard Aspinall © Aspinall Ink


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