Hotel review: The Coniston Country Estate & Spa
Over the hills and far away in the Yorkshire Dales, this country pile provides a scenic escape from the stresses of everyday life.
It’s only 11am but I’ve already got a Pornstar Martini on the go. I’m being slowly pruned in an outdoor jacuzzi, overlooking a gentle grassy slope down to a still lake peppered with ducks and geese. The mid-Spring sunshine is peeking from behind a cloud and allowing me to indulge in my first opportunity to sunbathe this year.
I’m at the Coniston’s Nàdarra Spa, enjoying my final few hours of a delightful stay by sampling the facilities. I’ve tested the bubbling indoor jacuzzi, Hammam, steam room, aromatherapy sauna, infrared sauna, and now, I’m enjoying the outdoor deck complete with bar and warm infinity pools.
Nestled in the Yorkshire Dales, the hotel manages to be both cosy and refined; stylish and welcoming. Here’s everything an event or incentive planner needs to know.
The Coniston has 70 bedrooms, sleeping from two to four, the perfect number to book it exclusively for small events or an incentive group. I stayed in one of the recently created The Dales Rooms, located in the main hotel building, and which was surprisingly spacious. Light wooden floors; tasteful, muted decor; and a plush bed and furnishings give it a country home feel, without being stuffy or outdated.
There’s your own private patio, so you can soak up the countryside over a morning coffee, or watch the sunset over the lush fields and pristine lake. Temple Spa toiletries, hair straighteners, and local snacks, add a touch of understated luxury.
The bed feels like sinking into a cloud, with an accompanying pillow menu for a personalised best night’s sleep ever. It’s also facing the floor to ceiling patio doors, meaning waking up to the stunning view in the morning.
Food and drink
The hotel’s main restaurant, The View, has a roaring indoor fire and outdoor, covered patio area for balmier days. It serves up a mixture of classic cuisine and ambitious fine dining, using the wide variety of local produce available on its doorstep.
Standout starters include the salmon mousse tartlet, while popular mains including lamb rump and venison are joined by pan-fried trout and cauliflower steak. The puddings are hearty and filling- just as they should be- with British favourites including carrot cake and lemon meringue.
I had the Crab Salad, with radish water, cucumber compression, shallot, and tapioca cracker, followed by the 35 day dry aged sirloin, with chips and spring salad. Everything, especially the starter, was attractively presented and well cooked.
After dinner, delegates can pop over to the intimate Macleod's Bar area, with its log fire, for cocktails, wines or even shots.
Meeting and event spaces
A range of indoor and outdoor spaces allow for some interesting and unique event possibilities. There’s The Orangery, a light and airy space with a glass roof, ideal for a sunlit evening drinks reception.
The Bannister Suite is the property's function room perfect for a gala dinner, with its own bar, dance floor, cloakroom, and even a private outdoor courtyard area if the weather allows.
There’s even the 17th Century Winston’s Barn, good for intimate functions. Its original features include a high peaked ceiling and exposed wooden beams. Or 1,400 acres of countryside surrounding the property can play host to an outdoor soiree, with rolling hills and magical forest as a backdrop.
And what could be better after a day of meetings than basking in the calm of the natural surroundings the hotel offers?
Aside from the extensive grounds around the Coniston, the nearby village of Malham is a gateway to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and several awe-inspiring natural phenomena. A short hike through town takes you to Gordale Scar, a stunning gorge with its own waterfall. A mile and a half uphill, walkers can visit the spectacular limestone rock formations of Malham Cove, reminiscent of an amphitheatre. Another mile and a half takes hikers up to the Tarn.
The nearest town to the Coniston is Skipton, which, although unassuming looking, has a few interesting spots to visit. Skipton Castle is a highlight, dating back to the Mediaeval ages, and which is one of the most complete and well-preserved castles in England. Skipton Castle Woods is a nice spot for a walk to spot more waterfalls and resident birds.
Craven Court shopping centre has boutique and independent shops for picking up gifts, while its lively outdoor market is open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. A number of pubs and eateries include the award-winning Wooly Sheep Inn and friendly local cafe the Good Bean.
Of course, delegates will also be more than happy chilling out at the hotel, which is arguably a destination in itself.