Country living in HarrogatePosted on: 09 September 2019 by Michael Edwards
Country Living St George brings the pages of the much-loved magazine to life in a stylish hotel. Michael Edwards visits Harrogate to investigate.
If your immaculately decorated hotel room - the walls a light olive-green, with every cushion lovingly plumped, pink orchids dazzling in the sunlight, fluffy inviting duvets - looks as if it is a perfectly curated magazine shoot do not be surprised.
In an elegant Edwardian mansion, in the heart of Harrogate, Country Living bring their design principles to an entire hotel. Even as you check-in, with two comfy chairs sat by reception, the decor sends the message that this is relaxed country living. As a backdrop to reception there is a large painted English landscape topped by Country Living’s promise, “An escape from every day life.” Arriving in your Room there is a small box of decadent Country Living chocolates to add to the warm welcome.
The hotel showcases a thoughtful aesthetic that dips in and out of the past and present. In the extensive public areas of bar, cafe, drawing room, library and lounges there are bold Regency strip armchairs and the occasional white alabaster classical bust but there are also many contemporary touches too: big bold canvases of Yorkshire’s rugged countryside. Light fightings in the Swaledale Restaurant, a fused collage of brassy outsized lanterns, are decidedly 21st century cutting edge.
There is never any danger that the Country Living aesthetic will become gingham table-cloth twee or play cautious my safe. The designers, with their Dulux-palette of paints, sometimes push the boundaries but always know how to stay within the bounds of rural restful.
The rambling Grade 2 Listed building is a country oasis in an urban environment, though as towns go, Harrogate is far from a concrete jungle. With acres of beautifully tended public gardens and streets dotted with hanging baskets, Harrogate, not that far from the Yorkshire Dales and Moors, is one of Britain’s greenest and best kept towns.
Country Living St George is the magazine’s second venture into the hotel industry, Country Living Landsdowne Grove in Bath, another Spa Town, was the first. Its a venture that’s developing well. Harrogate with its packed cultural programme draws in visitors. The hotel makes for a relaxing base for Harrogate’s many festivals: Children, Comedy, Crime Writing, Gilbert and Sullivan, International Youth and Literature. Throughout the year there is always the shopping too. The stylish Montpelier Quarter, just a short stroll from Country Living St George, has over fifty independent shops, cafes and restaurants.
Even closer to the hotel is the famed Turkish Spa offering a huge array of treatments. It has recently been lavishly and expensively decorated to levels of luxury beyond its 19th century origins. Though perhaps an even more renowned Harrogate landmark is Betty’s Tea Rooms celebrating their 109th birthday in 2019. The waiting staff dress as if Lloyd George were still Prime Minister and people queue around the block for an Afternoon Tea that today costs a little more than the 6 Old Pennies of the 1920s.
Cross the road and guests are at Harrogate’s theatre, so be warned that the Swaledale Restaurant, with its symmetrical Palladian columns and spacious high ceilings, is a very popular place for a pre-theatre dinner. Best to book for a more leisurely dining experience after 7.30pm when the theatre’s curtains swish open. You could also play a frame of snooker in the library whilst you are waiting, take a book down from the library’s shelves or have a drink in the hotel’s Dog and Duck Bar.
Not surprisingly, the Swaledale’s menu sticks to the country theme. It’s a menu of local seasonal favourites - Yorkshire asparagus, Dales bred lamb, Whitby Crab and North Coast Salmon. But with trademark Country Living creativity and flair there is charred water-melon with the crab whilst the pear and ginger chutney brings a zing to the pressed duck starter.
You have to take a chance, to take the occasional risk with design to keep developing. Clearly the Country Living concept will not stand still. Currently they are developing their own fragrance for the bathroom’s toiletries. Surely an aroma that epitomises dreamy magazine life-style living?
Country Living St George is a place for inspiration, for looking at design ideas, mulling over decor. It’s hard not to come away from without ideas for a new colour palette in your lounge or a fresh theme for soft furnishings in your bedroom.
For more information
Learn more about Harrogate’s attractions at www.visitharrogate.co.uk
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