Background: I wanted a fun birthday private Sunday lunch, cost not an issue.
The bad bits first:- I fixed to visit Jen, the Events Manager, to make arrangements. I appreciate that a private lunch for 9 is not as big ticket as a wedding event for 100 but even so I'd expect a good events manager to exercise the same level of care for any event (and a small event carries far less organisation work). She wasn't disastrous but she was poor. A helpful discussion led to some specifics - an armchair for the meal (their normal chairs have no arms, I am immensely happier in a carver): lunch in the Hartington Room and, at her suggestion, drinks beforehand in the Barden Room: wine recommendations to come from them later: final in-season food recommendation to come later too: helicopter landing details for me to fix with reception: they'd fix placecards: an oval table with (and she was firm on this) no end seating - 5 one side, 4 the other (not a problem and I drafted a cunning seating plan to reflect this and sent it to them).
It'd have been good if she'd handled the flight stuff instead of me (no great drama but she's supposed to organise the event, not just bits of it). It'd have been good if she had come back with wine suggestions as promised, but she had to be chased. It'd have been good if she'd got back to me with final food detail but she never did.
On the day things looked bad. When we arrived we went to the Barden Room to find it empty and cold - a ghastly location for relaxed pre-lunch drinks. Fortunately Robert, who looked after us, whisked my guests to the public seating area by the fire; not what I'd had in mind but it was fine. I popped into the Hartington Room to find a different seating arrangement and no placename cards and no carver chair. Not good; the girl Jen seems pretty useless and if you're fixing an event I'd recommend careful double-checking and contingency plans (or better still talk to someone other than Jen).
Now the good bits:- In planning the meal I had help from Val, the Restaurant Manager. A delightful man with a comprehensive knowledge of the courses they can offer; we ended up choosing an enhanced tasting menu and to hear Val describe the dishes and their detailed background was a joy. If you're interested in food, talk with Val.
Good support too from Nigel, the Wines Manager. His recommended wines were as pleasing as we'd hoped (even if the recommendations only arrived after some chasing email and phonecalls to Jen).
And good customer care from Robert and Olga who looked after us on the day - quick repair of the disastrous drinks fiasco and a swift re-arrangement of the table set-up. And thank goodness I'd brought my own placename cards.
So a wonderful meal - great food and very pleasing wines matched by caring service. If it hadn't been for the dismal abysmal event management I'd have scored an excellent 5 instead of a very good 4.
If they could combine the service and attention to detail one finds at Rudding Park with their own kitchen flair Devonshire would, based on this meal, be unbeatable.
Would I recommend? Only with the strong caveat of not trusting event management, so if it's a once-in-a-lifetime event go elsewhere. Would I return? Possibly not, there's too much excellent competition and even if it's only one aspect which annoys one finds it very easy to go somewhere else. Poor outcome Devonshire.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set within 30,000 acres of land on the Bolton Abbey Estate, this impressive 4-star country house hotel boasts an award-winning restaurant, an adult-only spa, a gym and an indoor pool. Skipton is just 5.8 miles away and Harrogate is 16.2 miles away. Each elegant room has a spacious seating area and a flat-screen TV with a DVD player ans satellite channels. All rooms offer different views of The Dales, River Wharfe and Italian Garden, and all rooms feature a luxury bathroom. Situated in the very heart of the Yorkshire Dales, The Devonshire Arms Hotel has a luxurious spa featuring a sauna, steam room, swimming pool and whirlpool. A range of treatments and massages are available and the property also has outdoor tennis courts. Clay pigeon shooting, fly-fishing, and falconry displays are all possible within the Bolton Abbey Estate. The award-winning Burlington Restaurant offers a seasonal menu using the finest local produce. Guests can enjoy the ever-popular afternoon tea, and there is also a lounge bar. The Brasserie offers guests a more modern gastro-menu featuring some of Yorkshire's favourite dishes. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel Bolton Abbey
- The Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel And Spa
- Devonshire Arms Country Skipton
- Devonshire Arms Country Hotel