Staycation, staycation, staycation. Nestled in rural West Yorkshire and set within 300 acres of lush surroundings lies the idyllic Oulton Hall. Never has the great British backyard been so fruitfully explored. What once were long weekends in the country are now transitioning to extended mini breaks and thus our desire for not only blissful tranquillity but activities and variety is greater than ever. Herein lies the challenge, locating these luxuries yet diverse domestic getaways is proving problematic mid pandemic as many obvious options are full up until way into 2021. But we’ve found a hidden northern gem that is just the ticket.
We borrowed a Jaguar F-Pace P300 sport which centres around a presence of both practicality and fun, whilst
having the capability to flirtatiously distract the crowds with its deep Santorini black charm. Equipped with a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, this SUV does 0-60mph with controlled ease. The fixed panoramic roof contributes towards providing an enhanced sense of openness, helping to capitalise on capturing both the
natural air and Autumn sun (however, on chillier days you can opt for the soft grain leather heated steering wheel to kick-start your journey with warming relief!)
The Meridian sound system immerses brilliant bass, enabling you to feel the rhythm of your music. The 300 sport has yellow contrast stitching on the leather seats, instrument panel and control centre. This gives it that true sports car feel to match its powerful performance and aesthetically pleasing looks. Comfort and convenience are thoughtfully combined through the use of many features, such as Touch Pro navigation to enable the driver to manage essential features remotely, a 12.3inch display screen and 10-way electric front seats. The F-Pace P300 truly is great for bringing together sports car DNA with the practicality of a more spacious vehicle.
This picturesque manor house has a rich history spanning over 400 years and a somewhat colourful past. Once the residence of the local Mayor it has played host to a series of significant dignitaries, succumbed to a devastating fire and was even temporarily converted into a hospital for soldiers during WW1. A bold £20 million investment from a well-known hospitality group transformed the estate into the spectacle that is today encompassing a stunning hotel, a 27 hole golf course, gardens and a luxury spa.
A mere hop-skip-and-jump (aka a 15 minute Uber) from Leeds Train Station, Oulton Hall is conveniently accessible for those without access to a car. It’s hard to believe somewhere is seemingly so remote is so close to a major city. Autumnal tinted trees line a sweeping driveway that leads to the main house surrounded by manicured gardens. Upon entering the grand reception hall we are welcomed by impossibly high ceilings, majestic paintings and art deco detailing. The interiors combine old with the new and feel suitably in keeping with the building’s history whilst retaining a contemporary edge. A vast and impressive Drawing Room overlooking the golf course is hosting ladies taking Afternoon Tea when we arrive and staff are attentively keen to assist with getting you settled out of the cold.
Bags dropped and a strong Yorkshire brew down, it’s time to hit the golf course. Oulton boasts a magnificent but testing 27 holes designed by Dave Thomas, and is made up of both The Caverely and The Hall Course. Challengingly hilly yet nonetheless fun, it’s a course I’d recommend for those who have some previous experience. Variety is the name of the game here with long fairways, lots of water and sneaky bunkers thus pars are tough going. If like me, you are more Happy Gilmore than Tiger Woods a manageable and leisurely 9 hole round might be the preferable option followed by a well-earned toast at the clubhouse, The Claret Jug. If the weather turns and you still feel like practicing your swing head to the driving range where there are 18 covered floodlit bays plus chipping and putting greens for short-game perfectionists.
Outdoor pursuits complete, we head indoors to the spa which when we arrive is favourably quiet. A well-equipped gym overlooks the small but ample pool with a jacuzzi, steam and sauna room close by, which we take full advantage of ahead of our treatments. Both my partner and I opt for full body massages and we are whisked away to a double treatment room for 50 minutes of serious R&R.
The wellbeing focused treatment I chose was a very calming aromatherapy-based massage using a range of incredible and sensual ELEMIS products. My other half chose a Free Style Deep Tissue massage which seemed to relieve a lot of tension he was carrying (nothing to do with me I assure you!). If massages are not your thing there is an extensive list of facials, wraps, hand and feet experiences to choose from which I don’t doubt will be just as brilliant. We leave feeling contently calm and Zen so head back to our room for a quick power nap pre-dinner.
The Champagne Bar is a must for early evening aperitifs. Pull up a stool at the counter or even better, get comfy on one of the lavish sofas and watch the sun set over the back 9 holes whilst being serenaded to mellifluent jazz. There is a regularly changing cocktail list to work through and a strong selection of spirits to help you whet your appetite ahead of dinner.
The main hotel restaurant is situated in at the heart of the original building on the ground floor. It’s a grand space with traditional white table cloths to boot. The grill-focused menu is weighted heavily towards seasonal British dishes with a welcome whiff of the contemporary. Cheerful staff are on hand to help and guide us to a delightful wine from a strong international list. Stand out dishes include a decadent and elegant sloe-cured salmon with a punchy horseradish cream and a smooth and silky chicken liver parfait, a classic often not done justice. Leave room for dessert though as you won’t want to miss the intensely dark sticky toffee pudding; balanced with a hint of spice and a liberal helping of warm and glossy butterscotch sauce. Simply heaven.
We roll back to our room which is chic yet comfortable, spacious yet cosy. It’s decked out in sophisticated earthy tones that perfectly match the countryside aesthetics and manages to hit the sweet spot between modern and tradition. Our king sized bed is soft and firm, which for me, is a winning combination and thankfully all the usual mod cons are catered for. After a sound night’s sleep, we wake to burning amber sunrise over the lush green landscape – the poetic silence was satisfyingly stark breaking only for bird song. If only every day could start this way.
Oulton hall might just have it all, laidback indulgence with enough leisurely activities to keep the most energetic busy. It successfully ticks all the country escape boxes – stunning architecture, outdoor adventures, a sensuous spa and a romantic backdrop set in Gods own country, Yorkshire. With international travel set to be off the cards for the foreseeable this place really is a hole in one.
To discover more, visit: oultonhallhotel.co.uk
To discover more about the Jaguar F-Pace, visit: jaguar.co.uk
All imagery courtesy of Oulton Hall Hotel and Jaguar.
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