THE only problem with staying in luxury accommodation is that you don’t ever actually want to leave it to explore the place you’ve visited.
In theory, Studford Luxury Lodges, situated between Sutton Bank and the picturesque market town of Helmsley on the edge of the North York Moors, should be the perfect starting point for a jam-packed itinerary.
Look at this for a ‘things to do list’ within just a 25-mile radius (many are much closer) – the majestic Castle Howard, beautiful Rievaulx Abbey, the historic city of York and idyllic village Hutton-le-Hole, plus the spectacular steam engine experience of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. If you are feeling a little more intrepid, it is also an ideal gateway to the magnificent Yorkshire coast: Whitby, Staithes, Robin Hood’s Bay et al.
However, once you set foot in your treehouse – yes, the six deluxe self-catering lodges are actually built on stilts in a private wooded area – you can quite easily lose any desire to venture anywhere. Well, perhaps as far as your own outdoor decking area and hot tub.
Now, I’ve never understood why the domestic demand for these devices has taken off quite so exponentially.
Looking out from your back garden over someone else’s roof, rusty five-a-side football nets or rotting shed with the cars screeching behind? No thank you.
But here, gazing up at the night sky or taking in the forest views with not a peep from anyone and maybe a chilled beer, I do see the appeal. It is just one of the many indulgent touches applied to the accommodation, designed by eco-lodge specialist Simon Spence after a seed was planted by its visionary owners, the brothers Rob and Ed Fawcett, part of a long-established family in the area.
Built in 2013, with sustainable timber used throughout, every lodge also has its own sauna and three spacious en-suite bedrooms furnished to the highest standards with king size bed and handmade pocket sprung mattresses, Egyptian cotton bed linen, each with its own plasma television and White Company toiletries.
The living room houses a 60in LED smart screen with Roberts sound system, PlayStation 4 with built-in DVD plus Blu-ray player – there’s free WiFi of course – but the real centrepiece is the stylish Italian revolving wood-burning stove.
With underfloor heating throughout, fuelled by green energy from a biomass heating system, and a kitchen that begs to be used – American-style fridge, Nespresso coffee machine, slick breakfast bar – it leaves you worried that there may be some renovating required when you do finally return back home from your rural retreat.
An introductory welcome hamper is full to bursting with not just treats – delicious ginger biscuits from Botham’s of Whitby and apple juice from the Orchards of Husthwaite – but practical goods, too, with bread and milk both locally sourced.
Given we have two children aged just three and one, there was no way we would be allowed to simply relax and so we did have to head out.
We opted for a stroll around Helmsley, ducking in and out of its quaint shops, taking in some views of its castle and stopping for a coffee. Then it was a short drive up to Rievaulx Terrace, the National Trust’s 18th century landscape gardens which offers not only a lovely woodland walk, but brilliant views down below to the Abbey itself.
Heading back to the Lodge, there was just time to call in at the award-winning Beadlam Grange farm shop and tea room to buy a juicy rump steak to cook for tea before settling in for the night.
The following morning we set off for Farndale and the so-called ‘Daffodil Dale’ where a spectacular array of the wild flowers create a sea of yellow,. On a spring day, it’s has to be one of the county’s finest jaunts, and it is almost obligatory to call in at the always-welcoming Daffy Cafe.
We stayed at Studford for a couple of nights midweek and it was bliss but, of course, it is easy to see why some would indulge for a full week. The company can pre-book activities for you off-site if you desire such as off-roading in 4x4 vehicles or mountain biking or even beauty therapy treatments at your lodge.
They even offer a free chauffeur service to and from the highly-rated Fairfax Arms in nearby Gilling East if you want to dine out hassle-free. Studford Luxury Lodges do claim its aim is to for guests “to feel totally at home – but with a few added treats thrown in.”
That aim is certainly achieved.
• Dave Craven and family stayed courtesy of Studford Luxury Lodges (01439 788991, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.studfordluxurylodges.com)
Prices for a three-night stay start from £27 per person per night, based on six people sharing one lodge for one week in low season.
All lodges sleep up to six people in either super kingsize or twin beds complete with en suite bathrooms.
All have a revolving log burning fire, music docking station, PlayStation 4, sauna and outdoor hot tub set on private decking. There is also a Smart TV with optional Sky packages.
A driver is also available for travel to and from the The Fairfax Arms.