The Black Swan, Helmsley
Helmsley, Ryedale / Yorkshire (UK)
The more we travel together (7 countries and counting!) the more we see a big difference in the dog-friendly world: there are places where dogs are allowed, and others where they are welcome. And I felt more than welcome at historic The Black Swan during our Easter 2017 visit to Helmsley and the Ryedale area.
We were originally booked to spend two nights in Helmsley, and were so excited to experience the area that we decided to check in a day earlier! Luckily the hotel still had a dog-friendly room available so the three of us parked at The Black Swan on Easter Saturday (and somepuppy was recognized immediately – the entire town seem to have known of our visit, what a welcome!).
Located right in the heart of award-winning, uber dog-friendly Helmsley, The Black Swan is the ideal place to stay from which to visit other beauty spots in North Yorkshire (more to come in further posts!). Established in the 18th century, The former 4-star coaching inn is now a boutique hotel with 45 bedrooms with a superb reputation for good food, famed traditional afternoon tea service and delicious food crammed with local produce.
Our first night was spent in room 1, in the oldest part of the building, above the reception area. The four-legged neighbours in room 5 yappily greeted our arrival from behind the door – I later got to meet the gorgeous two doxies in reception. We then moved to room 17 for another two nights. As we had a day packed with visits, the staff kindly moved our luggage for us from one room to the next, when it was ready.
The rooms are tastefully decorated and feature a super comfortable bed, beautiful bathrooms (with a travel kit and lush Molton Brown toiletries, and bathtub or walk-in shower) and ample storage space. The view on the back garden from room 17 was to die for!
For those of you who don’t know, house @lecorgi not only has a corgdon bleu (that’s moi!), it also has its own chef! Papa (@pierre_the_chef) was trained in Michelin star restaurants (and no, Maman and I are not lucky - he rarely cooks at home… and when he does he uses every single ustensil in the kitchen and refuses to let me help wash the dishes!). So for those times when I cannot have dinner with them, they will take over this part of the review.
Together with the tea room. the 3DD rosette Gallery Restaurant at The Black Swan is pretty much the only area of the hotel where dogs cannot go (finally some rest from the long walks for me!). Head Chef Alan O’Kane designed a menu that is essentially Classical/Modern British. Simplicity, attention to detail and quality are key and local suppliers and seasonal produce are favoured.
The package we were invited to experience included dinner on both nights.
On the first night Maman (@photobyA4) and Papa opted for the Tasting Menu with the optional paired wines. Everything was cooked to perfection and Maman’s favourite were the bread and butters, and starter course (Lindisfarne Oyster | Crispy Oyster | XO Sauce| Oyster Ice Cream| Cucumber| Caviar - yes, oyster ice cream!) whilst Papa’s were the lamb and dessert (Snickers | Valhrona Délice | Baked Toffee Cake | Peanut Butter Ice Cream).
The second dinner was from the A La Carte menu, with the beautiful Short Rib | Braised Short Rib | Crispy Bone Marrow | Artichoke | Mushroom | Parsley main being especially popular with them both.
Thanks to the wonderful waiting staff (and not having to worry about me, happily snoozing in the room) the humans had two fabulous evenings and would definitely recommend residents or visitors to book a table there (or try the hotel’s renowned Afternoon Tea)!
Also included in the package was breakfast, which is served in the main restaurant - with the option for dog owners to have it in the lounge with their pup(s). Rumour has it they even cook sausages for us, ouh la la! A full continental buffet is available with a choice of fruits, pastries, yogurts, and cheeses - as well as cooked items such as English Breakfast and these mouth watering (or shall I say drooling) Eggs Royale. Room-service breakfast is also available, free of charge!
Everyone we came across - from the lovely housekeeper whose son dreams of a corgi to the night receptionist that allowed me out in the garden for my last walk of the day, and the waiting staff - was extremely welcoming and professional – I received a lot of attention, countless cuddles and most had treats in their pockets…
Le Woof - #Corguide Approved
Unlike a lot of places we’ve been to, the pet policy at The Black Swan is very clear and one that truly means that we are welcome, not just allowed.
A small charge of £10 per pet per stay occurs (including a bowl, blanket and biscuits on arrival), dedicated rooms, and no extortionate “specialist cleaning fee".
There are no restrictions in terms of size or breeds. A maximum of 2 dogs per room is suggested (3 may been allowed depending on size)
We’ve found ourselves unable to have dinner or breakfast at places we stayed at, because dogs were not allowed in the dining areas and could not be left alone in their room. Not only is this frustrating (why would anyone travel with their pet if not to have them enjoy the trip with them?) the humans tell me it’s also so silly as they will go somewhere else spend their money on food.
No such dilemma at The Black Swan! Guests get the option to have breakfast in the lounge, with their furry family members, take them to the bar (where we enjoyed a live performer on the Sunday evening) AND/OR to leave them in the bedroom (if they’re happy on their own) with a sign on the door to let staff and other guests know there’s a dog alone in the room.
The staff is truly dog friendly (I received countless cuddles and so much attention), and there are biscuits in most of their pockets… I was even offered a sausage for breakfast!
We love the new Limited “Take The Lead” Dog-Friendly Stay and Phodography package fit for a king! Check it out!
We loved our stay so much that none of us wanted to leave Helmsley and The Black Swan (we even started to look for a house and I tried to get hired as a kitchen porter….) but alas, all good things come to an end and I was called on model duty! The receptionist gave us a snack pack for the road, with bottled water and some apples, which was a lovely touch.
Au revoir The Black Swan (that is the French for “we will see you again”), merci for a wonderful stay!
(#LeTip: when travelling with a dog, always contact the property before booking/visiting – most hotels listed on booking websites as “dog-friendly” have a limited number of rooms where dogs are allowed – and some will offer better direct deals too!)
DISCLAIMER: We were invited to stay two nights on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis at The Black Swan, so we could review their dog-friendliness, and we paid for the extras (additional last-minute night, drinks and food). All opinions are my and human’s own.