Andy Mossack reviews the newly-opened Sandburn Hall Hotel near York, the latest venture in this privately-owned estate.
I suppose having 1,000 acres of prime Yorkshire Dales to play with might be a tad overwhelming for most folks, but the Hogg family seem to be revelling in it.
The brainchild of visionary developer Mike Hogg, who in 1998, took 100 acres of woodland, built six luxury eco-friendly lodges there and called it Griffon Forest. He went on to develop the 18-hole Sandburn Hall Golf Club on adjacent farmland and conversion of the rustic farm buildings into Tykes Restaurant. Sadly, Mike never lived to see the complex open in 2005, but his family carry on the proud Hogg tradition of quality timber-framed construction, and the brand-new Sanburn Hall Hotel is a standing testimony to that ideal.
Opened in late May 2021, it’s a 40-room 2 storey timber and glass constructed hotel with two L-shaped wings surrounded by private woodland, landscaped lakes, and gardens. It reminds me of the Scandi-style, with massive oak beams, floor to ceiling glass, and gorgeous soft tones everywhere.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the huge, vaulted lobby which doubles as the main bar. Light and airy and full of contemporary Nordic understatement emphasised by the plaid upholstered couches and pale colours. There’s also a lovely outdoor courtyard with tables for an early evening sundowner.
We are in a ground floor Courtyard Premier room, one of the more spacious categories, with the added feature of a private terrace with patio table and chairs that leads directly to the lakes and gardens. It is a very impressive room. Beautiful King bed, same soft palette surrounds as the lobby, and a really comfy couch facing out to the terrace and the lake beyond. The wall to the bathroom is simply exposed brickwork, simple but very effective. I spot a hardback book atop the dresser, A Sacred Landscape by Hugh Thomson, but it turns out to be a portable key/valuables safe. Clever.
Speaking of bathrooms, mine is genuinely really impressive. Lined with Elemis toiletries, it’s a beautiful space with light purple tiles and sand coloured non-slip flooring. There’s a walk-in shower, a free-standing bath, and plenty of fluffy towels. Even soft lights illuminate automatically as you walk in.
The afternoon is mine for golf and the 18-hole course, recently redesigned by Martin Ebert and overseen by club professional Steve Robinson awaits. At nearly 6,700 yards it’s a bit of a beast, but with wide-open fairways, a relatively flat footprint and little in the way of trees, you’re unlikely to lose many balls.
That said, there’s more than a few lakes to contend with, and one guarding the green on the par-three 6th proves to be very adroit at collecting my ball. It’s a good holiday track that demands respect and no doubt worth a few tales of woe in the clubhouse afterwards.
The rustic timber-framed Tykes Restaurant is a short stroll away from the hotel, and I can get there from my terrace if I want the country route, or via the lobby entrance.
Tykes has already made a name for itself with the locals for offering freshly sourced seafood and steaks from trusted local suppliers and it’s doing good business by the time I get there. Well, it is a Wednesday and that’s Steak Night, two steaks for £30!
The blackboards above the open-plan kitchen offer up fish specials of the day and wines to pair while choice cuts of meat and fresh mussels lie on display in the chiller.
I kick off with an excellent truffled garlic wild mushrooms with spinach on sourdough (£7.50) while Mrs M goes for a super sea-fresh salmon parcel filled with prawns served with mango (£10.95). I can never refuse a steak in a restaurant specialising in fresh meat cuts, and my fillet lived up to the billing (£26). Cooked perfectly to order with hand-cut chips and a peppercorn sauce with a kick.
After a restful night and morning coffee outside on our terrace listening to nothing but birdsong, we were back in Tykes for breakfast. Buffet is back now Covid rules have been relaxed and it’s another feast of local produce. Freshly baked pastries plus, here’s a first, sourdough for toasting bread. A rare and welcome sight indeed. Plenty of Yorkshire tea of course and I can’t resist a side order of smashed avocado on toast with lime and chilli and a poached egg.
Sandburn Hall Hotel is just seven miles from York, and the same distance from Castle Howard, a fabulous pile used for numerous period productions such as Bridgeton and Brideshead Revisited. It’s ten miles from Malton, considered to be Yorkshire’s foodie capital, and the North Yorkshire Moors National Park is well within touching distance.
The Hogg family has done a remarkable job in expanding Mike’s vision to a magnificent multi-purpose estate, and Sandburn Hall Hotel is glorious addition. I’m pretty sure he’s very proud of how it’s all turned out.
All food images (C) Andy Mossack
Tell me More about Sandburn Hall Hotel
Sandburn Hall Hotel, Flaxton, York, YO60 7RB
T: 01904 469922 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Room rates from £139 room only and from £224 on weekends, through to £364 for luxury Suites.
Green fees are from £30 for 18 holes (£25 for hotel residents).
Castle Howard Gardens tickets £13.95 Adults, £8.50 child, under 4s free