We sent our UK Travel Writer Rachel McAlley to experience the renowned award-winning Judges Country House Hotel in Yarm, and it looks like she enjoyed every minute of her overnight stay.
We arrived at Judges where a wedding party were gathering in the gardens; a Great Gatsby themed wedding, both unusual and lovely to see. The sun was shining brightly, the wedding party seemed very happy, and the reception team eager to help with our check-in. The hotel is an AA 4 Star Victorian Country House Hotel surrounded by 31 acres of gardens and grounds, all beautifully presented with woodland walks, ornate bridges, quaint river, mini waterfalls, and an outside patio terrace complete with large wooden gazebo worthy of royalty.
A very beautiful setting and perfect for a night in the country. After check-in, Jess from the front-of-house team at Judges kindly showed us to our second floor room, high above the gardens with a view of the vast swaying tree-tops, and away from any outside distractions. Room 5 was airy, large, comfortable, and decorated as you’d expect for a country retreat with tartan, tweed and an adoptable teddy on the double bed. The dainty windows in the bedroom and bathroom were original sash windows and opened fully, a rare commodity in these days of double-glazing and 2 inch openings.
The room had a great selection of mini bar drinks plus nibbles and complimentary tea, coffee, hot chocolate and fresh milk, plus some delicious homemade double chocolate cookies and the piece-de-resistance was most certainly the complimentary decanter of sherry and mini box of chocolates (in every room, not just ours)! The bathroom was bright and white, with complimentary candles and matches, a large glass bottle filed with bubble bath, fluffy toweling robes, and The White Company essentials such as shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and body lotion, plus a trinket vase filled with cotton buds, cotton wool, and cotton pads. And, I must admit that the side-lit mirror was perfect for ‘doing makeup’ with it’s excellent lighting.
It was time for me to be shown around the hotel by General Manager Tim Howard, and what a pleasure that was. I was treated to a private viewing of the underground Dom Pérignon Dining Room, a haven of vintage Champagnes including a collection of rare Oenothèque Dom Pérignon. Tim talked to me about the history of the hotel, and it’s affiliation with the Second World War, where Judges was a secret command centre for the North East.
I was hooked on this beautiful hotel from the moment I arrived, and even more so now that I knew it’s history. Back to the room for a change of clothing before a romantic walk around the grounds, Champagne cocktails in the lounge bar, and dinner in the conservatory overlooking the gardens. Flavorsome canapés of tomato consommé, beetroot with walnut, and sashimi of trout were served to much appreciation. The canapés were followed by house-made caramelised onion bread rolls and pumpkin with salt bread rolls, both outstanding and warmed to perfection.
Our starters consisted of smoked haddock and leek risotto with curry oil and crispy onions, and ham hock with guinea fowl and foie gras ballotine with golden sultanas, poached pear and parkin crumbs. We enjoyed a bottle of Prosecco with the meal. Main courses included wild salmon and caviar with chive crushed potato and broccoli, and Himalayan salt and aged fillet of beef served with calf’s liver faggot, pomme Anna, baby vegetables and shallot.
We opted for sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream plus a selection of British cheeses for dessert. The cheeses came with homemade wedges of toasted nutty bread, cheese biscuits, grapes, celery and Judges chutney. You can easily see why the hotel is 4 AA, as the food is simply exquisite. All the flavours complimented each other, there were some ‘wow’ moments with taste buds, especially with the haddock risotto, the aged beef, and the Judges chutney.
As a very special one off treat post-dinner, we were honoured to witness the wedding party’s evening fireworks display, which made the weekend even more magical.
After an excellent night’s sleep and a breakfast fit for a king it was time to pack and check-out of Judges Country House Hotel. Until next time!
Rachel McAlley was hosted for an overnight stay at Judges Country House Hotel, a country retreat in Yarm, North Yorkshire. Rachel enjoyed dinner, bed and breakfast at a lead rate of £220 (rate is per night and doesn’t include pre-dinner drinks or wine). Contact Pride of Britain Hotels 0800 089 3929 for more information. www.prideofbritainhotels.com