Nidd Hall - Harrogate

Sarah Brealey visits Nidd Hall, an adults-only hotel near Harrogate with plenty to see and do.

Imagine a hotel which has everything to keep even the most easily-bored person entertained, from croquet to tennis and afternoon plays to evening shows. Imagine that hotel being on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, near stately homes, ruined abbeys and castles as well as pretty towns and the purple-heather sweep of the North York Moors.

This creates the problem – do I leave the hotel for sightseeing, or stay for the entertainment? This is Nidd Hall Hotel near Harrogate, a Warner Leisure hotel in a grade II listed Georgian stately home.

A stroll around the grounds reveals a tuckedaway rockery and a fish pond which includes a monster carp. You can watch the sheep grazing in the neighbouring field, and perhaps have a close encounter with some ducks or geese.

Hard-surfaced paths mean the grounds are accessible to wheelchairs too.

There is also a tennis court, croquet lawn and bowls green – you can borrow the necessary equipment, or even borrow a rod to take advantage of the private fishing in the lake.

For those who prefer games indoors there is also a games room with darts, table tennis, snooker and small ten-pin bowling alley. Sadly, we had forgotten the necessary attire for trying out the swimming pool, steam room and sauna – a mistake we will not make on the next visit.

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The scheduled entertainment might include archery or rifle-shooting lessons, watercolour classes or afternoon plays. There is something to fill almost every minute of the day. There are also special themed breaks – the Strictly Come Dancing breaks are particularly popular.

For a supplement you can eat in the Terrace restaurant, which has an AA rosette and a great view of the hotel grounds on a summer evening.

The menu features plenty of local produce. We started with Yorkshire goats' cheese on toasted brioche with red and yellow cherry tomatoes, and an interesting-sounding terrine of 'leaping duck' with Yorkshire ham and Armagnac prunes. It came with a dinky apple tart, and was full of flavour. Main courses were possibly even better, the highlight being Nidderdale lamb with pea and broad bean puree and duckfat roasted potatoes. The sticky Easingwold belly pork with Parmesan creamed potatoes and cider jus sounded like a winner, as did the smoked Givendale beef with roast vegetables and artichoke tapenade. But I had the roast vegetable tart with chargrilled asparagus and tarragon butter, which was light and summery, and with a lovely concentrated asparagus flavour from the chargrill.

A chocolate plate contained a white chocolate cr�me brulee, a chocolate tiramisu and a lovely warm chocolate and orange pudding, complete with chocolate sauce.

Simpler but just as good was warm ginger cake with butterscotch sauce, which came with a scoop of rich vanilla ice-cream.

Dinner in the main restaurant, the Rawson Restaurant, is not as sophisticated but still elegant, with interesting wallpaper and nice decorative touches. There is a carvery and a salad bar but also a table service menu.

At breakfast there are usually a couple of ducks hanging around the lawns outside in the hope that they will be fed leftover toast – it would take a harder-hearted person than me to refuse them. The breakfast itself is mostly served buffet-style, but if you want something different, such as kippers or pancakes, this can be made to order. I enjoyed the bowls of steaming porridge, with a choice of honey, syrup and other toppings. You can have a 'sundae' of yoghurt layered with fruit compote, nuts and muesli.

If you do find the time to visit the surrounding area, there is plenty to do without going far.

The pretty village of Ripley is just a mile away, Harrogate is three miles and the beautiful ruins of Fountains Abbey not much further.

This is Yorkshire's first World Heritage site and the National Trust's most visited property of those that charge admission. You can see why, with extensive ruins of a Cistercian abbey set against a backdrop of river and water gardens.

Also nearby are Brimham Rocks, likewise looked after by the National Trust although with free admission (there is a parking charge).

This is a natural playground made up of dozens of bizarre rock formations, with names such as the Anvil and Dancing Bear. Children and adults can enjoy climbing over them as well as going for walks in the surrounding moorland.

Or you could pick one of the many beautiful Dales to explore, admiring the pretty towns and villages or taking a stroll in the beautiful countryside.

All of this is worth leaving the hotel for, we decided. Just not for too long.

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