The beautiful market town of Helmsley is one of my favourite places in Yorkshire, in the world for that matter! Pretty cottages of mellow sandstone and grand Georgian townhouses gather around a handsome market square, with quite stunning North York Moors countryside just a few minutes’ drive away.
It’s a thriving market town and a bit of a foodies heaven packed with exquisite tea-rooms, cafés and organic delis, it’s also surrounded by some of the best gastropubs in the UK. Tucked alongside these culinary delights are lots of unique shops and galleries, easily enough to build up an appetite for lunch. It’s been hard to narrow it down, but here are my top five reasons to visit Helmsley…
Top five reasons for visiting Helmsley
1. Brideshead Revisited
This wonderful series, and now lavish film production, was filmed on location at Castle Howard just over 10 miles south of Helmsley. This quintessentially English tale of forbidden love and loss of innocence set pre-WWII has the perfect backdrop in this magnificent house and gardens. It is such a magical place. Take some time to drift around the grounds and play at being lord of the manor for an afternoon. And if you want to go even further back in history, Rievaulx Abbey on the outskirts of Helmsley is a must-see. The view of the abbey from the elevated Rievaulx Terrace is breathtaking.
2. Afternoon Tea at The Black Swan Tea-rooms
If you had to design the perfect tea-room, we’re pretty sure this is how it would look. Black Swan Tea Rooms is packed with pristine white tablecloths, warm wooden floors, creamy oak panelling and a beautiful patisserie nestling in the corner. The sandwiches here are excellent, as is the service. The classic cream tea is particularly good.
3. Foster & Hawkes Toy Shop
We think Foster & Hawkes Toy shop deserves a special mention simply because it is the best toy shop in the world. Not a Wii in sight, just teddies and dolls and corgi vans and train-sets and gungy eyeballs and jigsaws and everything else you used to buy all those years ago.
4. The Verbena Spa
This gorgeous little Verbena Day Spa is part of the equally gorgeous Feversham Arms Hotel. There is an exquisite heated outdoor swimming pool, hot tub and full heat experience to enjoy. I particularly love the laid back chill-out areas.
5. The Star Inn, Harome
This isn’t just an inn, this is the Star Inn at Harome. My love for the Star Inn dates way back to when I first discovered the North York Moors. Winner of Egon Ronay’s Gastropub of the year amongst many other awards and accolades, this cosy piece of thatched heaven is the perfect backdrop for a romantic tryst or family get-together. Dating back to the 19th century, the current proprietors Andrew and Jacqui Pern have taken the Star to new heights. You can book a table in the restaurant or simply turn up and sit in the bar: the same food is served in both. The menu has ‘a certain northern rootedness’ with fresh fish featuring heavily amongst local meat and game.
Helmsley Holiday Cottages
We have several beautiful luxury cottages in Helmsley itself and close by. Take your pick from the following:
- Coco – a dog-friendly contemporary Helmsley holiday cottage with a cosy wood-burning fire.
- Rose Cottage – a 3-bedroom holiday cottage that’s just around the corner from the Verbena Spa.
- St Aidans – a fabulous converted church just a few miles from Helmsley in the pretty hamlet of Carlton.
- The Hay Barn – a large converted barn just a few miles from Helmsley. Sleeps up to 8 adults comfortably and has fantastic leisure facilities including a hot tub, sauna and games room.
- The Stables – a lovely 2-bedroom luxury cottage near Helmsley. Again featuring a hot tub and sauna.
- Cedar Cottage – just perfect for two or a young family with a baby. This gorgeous one bedroom cottage is the essence of country chic, just a few miles from Helmsley.
- Bothy Cottage – Again within a short drive of Helmsley, Bothy Cottage is a beautiful two-bedroom luxury holiday cottage – featuring a wood burner and large garden.
This is just a small selection of the luxury North York Moors cottages we have available. Take a look at our full range of Helmsley holiday cottages.