Rose and Crown
“Pitch perfect inn overlooking the village green....”
Review by Fiona Duncan, published 17th February 2008.
A swift train ride to York then a hire car at the station, and we are battling our way towards the Pennines in the teeth of a gale. The gale is so wild it flips over a dozen lorries and diverts us off the A1, and when we finally arrive we are rattled, tired and late.
The Rose and Crown at Romaldkirk: even its name sounds perfect. In the 19 years since Chris and Alison Davy have been at the helm, it has been heaped with praise and won, for a rural inn, an impressive list of awards.
And that, as Chris agrees, is the problem: expectations, including ours, are sky high. But Chris is a consummate hotelier and a warm, down-to-earth guy. He knows the pitfalls of praise.
"Whenever we get an award," he tells me, "I warn my staff not to become complacent; it only means one thing - we have to try even harder." They succeed.
Everything about this place is right. As I walk in, it has, to my perception, an old-fashioned, indefinable smell that I associate with childhood visits to hotels and with feeling secure and well looked after. The drive - and the gale - are far behind.
It's very cosy. Far from being worryingly old hat, the busily patterned carpets, each a different colour - in the hall, on the stairs, in the dining room and bar - set the scene for an inn that is comfortingly traditional at heart yet up to date where it matters.
In the low-ceilinged dining-room there's glossily varnished panelling, gleaming silver candlesticks and a display of blue patterned china plates, and in the bar are old brasses and Windsor chairs.
But upstairs are off-white walls, modern headboards, handmade fitted cupboards and oatmeal carpets; an Indian mirror here, a stylish new armchair there.
Our room is on the top floor. A receptionist in low-key uniform helps us up with our bags and when we return after dinner we find the bed has been turned down, both extra touches that lesser country inns would not run to.
There are flowers, too, and fruit, a row of decent books, a choice of CDs and a player, and a flat-screen TV. Our view in the morning is of the village green and the original stocks sitting plum in the middle.
Chris, who used to manage large hotels but soon decided they weren't for him, began his career as a chef and often helps out in the kitchen.
As it's Burns night I choose a starter of mini haggis with whisky cream sauce, followed by fillets of John Dory and half my long-suffering husband's amaretti ice cream. It's all pitch perfect, served swiftly and with a smile.
I don't mean to pile on the praise, but Chris is a good writer, too. In each bedroom there's a booklet, Come Rain or Shine, of things to do in the area, written by him.
Make your choices, and reception will print off the relevant pages for you - ours is waiting on the breakfast table. We decided on High Force, England's highest waterfall, seen via Chris's favourite route. With a gale still blowing and the river swollen by rain, it's a fantastic sight.
The Hotel Guru verdict
Comfortable, with stylish touches; best are the most recently refurbished
The kitchen is geordie and all the staff are local. say no more
Pretty much as good as a village inn gets; think polished wood and cosy rooms
|Food and drink|
High standards and very satisfying. good wines too: try their australian merlot
|Value for money|
Even a yorkshireman couldn't quibble