Hotel of the Week: Natural Retreats in the Yorkshire Dales – TravelMole true

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Hotel of the Week: Natural Retreats in the Yorkshire Dales

Friday, 10 May, 2013 0

Gone are the self-catering days of ill-matched crockery, bringing your own linen and discovering you’ve left the shampoo at home. Natural Retreats has raised the bar with its ‘no job too small’ concierge service, eco-friendly lodges and upmarket toiletries.

From the moment you book, you realise it’s a classy offering with a concierge service on the phone and via email suggesting what to see and do. Whether behind the scenes it’s actually manned by one person in their living room or an army of customer service experts, the branding is strong, the service attentive and and efficient and the choices varied.

We were literally after a ‘natural retreat’ so settled for manicures from the visiting beauty therapist, some restaurant recommendations and the prospect of a short amble around the site.

We turned down the Doggie Hamper which was also on offer although the in-house chefs and photography sessions were tempting. An email arrives a week or two before with your arrival details, the site manager’s number and any last minute requirements – excellent customer service… I was tempted to hand them my to do list.

Natural Retreats has locations in various parts of the UK, Ireland, the US and Canary Islands with varying accommodation. It says the only criteria is ‘luxury’ with all options offering something different from beaches to hills and glens to dales. We were visiting its eco-friendly lodges in the Yorkshire Dales – a very upmarket Center Parcs with less houses, less bikes, less frenzy and less kids, at least when we went.

Getting there was easy – it’s near Scotch Corner, just off the A1 and only minutes away from the town of Richmond with its cafes, antique shops, market and numerous charity shops. Yet you feel the site is in the middle of nowhere. Our lodge was at the rear of the site, up a few flights of steps and slightly shrouded by overgrown trees but the sun was shining and we pulled open the wall-to-wall sliding door to enjoy our Pimms on the decking.


Some of the lodges are slightly overlooked – only due to the road and the glass frontage – but they could work well if you’re two groups of families spending time together. Some others are a bit more awkward to get to from the parking area so it’s worth specifying where you want to be when you book.


They deserve their eco credentials with a natural spring providing drinking and shower water, Biomass heating, rainwater harvesting, low energy light and a Klargester natural sewage treatment system. It also cites a composter wormery but when we were there, there was no composting and the recycling itself was complicated and a bit prohibitive. Plans are in the pipeline though, I understand.

For those less bothered about being ‘green’ on holiday, there’s a flat screen TV, DVD player, coffee-maker, CD player and central heating. They would benefit from a few more sockets for the usual short stay requirements of a laptop, hair straighteners and mobile phone charger. However there’s free WiFi so all is not lost.

It’s fresh, modern, open plan and comfortable – the beds, the sofa, the decking area plus the toiletries in the ‘wet room’ that takes a while to dry. The welcome hamper whets your appetite for what the region has to offer – cheese, eggs, jam, bread, milk, biscuits, freshly ground coffee and even some wine – all packaged up to blend in with the décor. Our lodge had been recently refurbished and was a soothing sage colour. The kitchen was bright, clean and equipped for basic cooking but minutes away are a choice of great restaurants so why would you bother?

Lunch for us was at the recommended Wensleydale Heifer, a short scenic drive away. It’s a quirky pub with four-poster themed accommodation too and a funky fish tank table in the lounge. The food was impressive with the kind of menu where you could eat it all. We did get sidetracked by the ‘Carry on’ style postcards in the ornate powder room missing the arrival of our main course.

Back at the lodge we went for wander on the Woodland Trail. We struggled to find the path amongst the undergrowth but then we were enjoying the first weekend of sun following what felt like an eight-month winter hibernation. We didn’t have time to fully explore the walks on offer – of which there are many. Time flies when you’ve nothing to do.

Exercise over we enjoyed the serene and peaceful setting, bedding in so well that we weren’t ready to leave when Sunday came. A quick call to the duty manager and we managed to eke a few minutes more before checking out. With all this, who would be in a rush to go home?


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