“Helmsley is, arguably, North Yorkshire’s most attractive market town: honey-coloured cottages, pretty stream, independent shops and tearooms, and all overlooked by an 11th-century castle and handsome parish church. And The Black Swan sits in a commanding position right at its centre. A striking mix of Tudor, Elizabethan and Georgian buildings (with a hidden 20th-century bedroom extension at the rear), it dominates the market place.
Inside there’s a pleasing jumble of low-beamed ceilings, wonky corridors, vast fireplaces and lots of beckoning armchairs and sofas. When the sun shines, you can retreat to the pretty walled garden, tucked away at the rear in the lee of the church. The most characterful bedrooms are at the front, in the older buildings, with quirky shapes, leaded windows, creaky floorboards and a mix of bright colours and country-rustic furnishings. Most of the rooms, however, are in the modern extension. Despite this, they’re generous, light and airy with sleigh beds, soothing shades and splashes of bright colour in headboards and cushions.
The smart dining room offers very smart dining; definitely several notches above your average country gastropub, although it is not cheap. There’s also a charming tearoom where you can splash out on a splendid afternoon tea, or just indulge in scones and cake.
This is a place where you will be full of good intentions to walk on the moors or explore the local castles and abbeys, but where you will probably fall asleep over a book and a cup of tea in the garden.”
Written by Helen Pickles