Sunday, 28 September 2014

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough

September 2014 has quite literally been a pain: chickenpox, the start of school, the adaptation to said school, unexpected garden works and illness (mine, not pretty!) but it actually started really well, with a visit to Ox Pasture Hall Hotel for a review.

The place is rather photogenic so expect a photo-heavy post, ready?

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is located just outside Scarborough, in an idyllic spot in the North Yorkshire countryside. When the view from the hotel's car park looks like this:

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough

...it's no surprise that, when you turn round you find a quintessentially British place like this one:

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough

In fact, I say quintessentially British but it really reminded me of the place where I spent my childhood, Galicia, and in fact a lot of an old house my family still has in a little village in that region of Spain. I digress, back to the Ox Pasture Hall review. This now 4* hotel used to be a farm house, Ox Pasture Farm, home to the Asquith family who farmed the land from April 1918-19 until it was sold in 1961. The hotel formed part of the Best Western hotel chain until a few years ago when the owner decided to run it his own way and I have to say that, after talking to the manager (Alan), about the investment and the fairness of the owner, it sounds to me like leaving Best Western was absolutely the right decision. I discovered during my chat with Alan that it was the owner himself who had been emailing me, talk about taking charge!


Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough
Reception
Ox Pasture Hall Hotel has been investing a lot of money in upgrading the hotel and bringing a serious touch of luxury to it. For the purposes of the review we stayed in suite 31, in one of the outbuildings, one of the newer rooms. To get to it we had to take a rather charming route across the courtyard, want to join me as I take a trip down memory lane?

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough
The courtyard

Through the rather beautiful courtyard we arrived to our outbuilding, which looked a bit newer as work seemed to still be in progress:


Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - ScarboroughOx Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough

The view that surround the hotel continue into the bedroom. Impressive, aren't they. The charm of the main building however doesn't and the bedroom feels a bit devoid of character which is a real shame but I think it could be easily solved with a collaboration with a local artist, a coffee machine and a few quirky touches that reflect the history of the hotel perhaps.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - ScarboroughOx Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough

Then I opened the door to the bathroom and found this... the photos speak for themselves so I'll let them do all the talking:

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough


Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough

The bathroom was huge. Now, this was pure luxury. I loved the touch of the cotton wool on the window sill and the little ceramin Le Bain bath tub but did miss bath robes and a range of pampering toiletries because, if you have a bath tub like that during holiday, you're going to want to take a long soak!

The shower did leak a bit into the other areas of the bathroom but it's so big that nothing would spoil that, just make sure you have a towel waiting for you to stand on. The soap dishes and toilet roll holder were loose and I think they just are not to the same level of quality of the other components in the bathroom and should all just be removed and replaced with suitably sturdy fixtures.

I would personally add a ton of hooks both in the bathroom and the bedroom (for the coats, above all in winter), a space for muddy shoes, as well as a stool and bathrobes in the bathroom, bath salts, shower cap, nail files, a few nice touches and surprises basically. I am pleased to say though that the bath towels were quite large, which is always nice, perhaps not as fluffy as I would expect of a 4* hotel.

But, you know what, none of that mattered the moment we stepped back out of the room, there are lots of spot to enjoy around the hotel and T had a lovely time running and dancing around the front lawn:

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - ScarboroughOx Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough

The staff is so welcoming, friendly, attentive and efficient and I think that is the key to this place: if you mix the classic British farm charm with the amazing staff, the result is unforgettable but, talking about unforgettable, I haven't told you about the best part of our stay: the food!

Now, the food at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is simply worth of a Michelin star, I could try to describe to you how amazing it is but it is just impossible to convey. The only thing that let it down a bit was the service, the same guys running reception and the bar were looking after the restaurant but, to be honest, they did an awesome job. With professionally trained waiters, I think this place could become a very sought-after destination both for hotel stays and for restaurant visits.

On the evening of our arrival we ate at The Courtyard Restaurant and this is what we chose (it wasn't easy to choose by the way, I strongly advise the hotel to create a savoury taster menu like they do with the desserts):

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough
Tomato and red pepper soup as amuse bouche - delicious and buttery (a surprise from the kitchen)
Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough
Albariño white wine, the wine of my homeland

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough
Duck as a starter

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough
Cod with chorizo ratatouille (well, it said chorizo and you know what I'm like: succulent and delicious (the cod, not me)

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough
Mr Tapas loves pork belly and this was the best pork belly he has ever had, same applies to me. Absolutely amazing.
Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough

To give you an idea of the prices:

 Then T decided she was ready for bed and, since until then she had been really well-behaved, I didn't want to chance it and left husband with the desserts, making him promise me that he had to bring the tray to the room... which he did! As well as the rest of the albariño.

We did ask for Albariño wine and were brought something else, first they forgot it to one end of the restaurant (which I think may have been caused by my daughter's multiple trips to the toilet). We were brought some Italian white wine that just wasn't right, above all with the succulent fish I was having so they promptly brought us a bottle of the wine of my region of Spain: albariño.

After that, I went back into the hotel to talk to Alan, the manager and find out more about the hotel (no Thermomix in the kitchen, something they need to explore, obviously!). The kitchen has been kitted out with the latest equipment though and a big portion of the recent investment has gone there.

The sofa in our suite converted to a bed so T slept there... so did husband after a while. I myself had a really good sleep in the rather big bed, in the peace and quiet of the North Yorkshire countryside.

Perhaps breakfast and afternoon tea are not quite at the same level but, in the case of breakfast, that was very welcome. It's nice to have a proper full English rather than a fancy take on it. According to my 4 year  old the cereal selection could have been better, this basically means there were no Cocoa Pops. A jug of water among the juices wouldn't have gone amiss and, talking about missing, I really missed good coffee throughout our stay.

My breakfast, just what I needed
After breakfast we went to explore Scarborough and ended up at Sea Life, T's first aquarium experience! It was great but on the pricey side.

Then back to Ox Pasture Hall we happily went for afternoon tea. The cake and scone selection was impressive although I would have preferred lighter cakes, I am an éclair in afternoon tea fan but we were up North and this was proper Yorkshire fare I reckon, wholesome! We were a bit short on clotted cream and asked for more and were promptly presented with a huge bowl of cream and strawberries.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough

I would have loved more savoury sandwiches as they were really good. In fact, so good that my daughter (not a sandwich eater, more of a sandwich deconstructor) wanted more and the kitchen kindly prepared her a sandwich, they use smoked cheddar and white bread... perhaps that's where I have been going wrong?

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough

We met a group of ladies of a certain age while having afternoon tea, every week they have lunch there, they praised the consistently good service and charming atmosphere which perfectly complemented the wonderful food.

After that we said goodbye to the lovely hotel staff after thanking them for looking after us and left for an afternoon at Scarborough beach, which we absolutely loved: a sandy beach, a pirate boat, arcades, a milkshake at an awesome ice cream parlour called Harbour Bar. A fantastic afternoon before heading back home, stopping in Lincoln along the way as it was a long car trip.

Would we go back as fully paying guests? Absolutely!! But probably wouldn't be able to afford in the suite.

Would I recommend you to spend your hard-earned money there? Definitely and, if you are a local, I would recommend you go check out the restaurant soon!
Quick sumary

Pros:
  • Quiet, as in properly quiet, can hear animals and not much else
  • Fantastic service
  • Wonderful location
  • Amazing food 
  • Good afternoon tea
  • Good hearty breakfast
  • No waste policy, for example fresh fish is delivered at 5pm on Saturdays, what's not used goes on fish stock or fish pie for Monday
  • Permission to build a house pub, it MUST have a roaring log fire!

Cons:
  • The level of luxury in the room doesn't seem to be right up there with how it should be but a few touches would soon sort that out.
  • Sloppy maintenance, the maintenance schedule needs tightening up:
  • a) Fixtures in bathroom need looking into.
  • b) Cigarette butts on the step of the outside door that led into our suite, there were no ashtrays anywhere to be seen, they would soon put an end to that).
  • c) The next morning, just before checkout at around 11am, the tables and chairs in our suite's courtyard still had drinks glasses from the night before. A vigilant eye should be doing the rounds early in the morning to make sure they go before people wake up.
  • The coffee wasn't great (well, you know I am coffee-fuelled, right?).
  • Wifi didn't work in our suite, if staying for any longer and, given that we hardly had any mobile coverage at the hotel, this would have been an issue.
  • The TV in the suite needed reprogramming both times we tried to use it, although perhaps this should be in the Pros section above?!
Disclosure: For the purposes of this review, our stay and nourishment at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel were totally free, this included: one night stay at suite 31, dinner (including drinks), breakfast and afternoon tea. The car journey from London (after attending a wedding there the day before and staying at my MIL's) and back home on the Monday were paid by us, as were all the extra activities we did outside the hotel. All opinions are my own and 100% honest based on what I saw and lived while there.

The Tapas family would love to express their gratitude to the owner and staff of Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, it was a fantastic chance to have little trip to the seaside, we don't often take holidays and this was just perfect.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review - Scarborough

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