Review of The Angel at Hetton, Yorkshire
On the edge of the Dales, the village of Hetton is peaceful without being too far from civilisation and, as those who have watched The Trip will know, is neatly sandwiched between the dramatic limestone cliffs of Malham and the stepping-stones of Bolton Abbey. While the Angel lacks some of the grandeur of country house hotels, it makes up for it in cosy nooks and atmosphere. Once a simple inn, the Angel is now a destination in its own right – renowned for excellent food and an extensive wine list.
After a solitary walk over the moors we stumbled into the Angel’s bar at 2pm on a Friday only to find the place heaving – business lunches, birthday celebrations, locals perched at the bar – all thrown in together enjoying the Friday fish specials, French wines and locally brewed beers. Across the road, our room had a more serene air with vintage furniture, soft fabrics and cool colours. Home made biscuits, truffles, local teas and an honesty bar filled with gin and whisky made it clear that the Angel is more about indulgence than appearance might at first suggest.
Having started the evening with G&T’s and freshly made canapés in our room (great service!), we headed to the bar for a drink by the fire before dinner. With food firmly on the agenda, The Angel is a warren of dining alcoves – a private snug, a beautifully aged bar with flag stone floors, a cosy brasserie room, a traditional dining room and a wine cave, which is turned into an ‘Auberge’ for private or themed foodie evenings.
Before dinner we caught up with the owner, Pascal, who inherited the pub from his father. Food and wine have always been the focus; the pub notoriously banned chips in 1985 and served ‘proper meals’ when everyone else was doing ‘bar snacks’. As a result, it’s thought to be England’s first ever gastro pub. I had the house special, ‘Angel’s Little Moneybag’ (seafood baked in pastry), before tucking into grilled gilt-head bream and an incredibly rich chocolate delice.
Having indulged at the Angel, it’s well worth letting your taste buds lead you around the surrounding area – Yorkshire boasts an unlikely six Michelin-starred restaurants. Among them is the Burlington – a short drive away from Hetton. Situated on the edge of the beautiful Bolton Abbey estate, the restaurant is part of the Devonshire Arms – a country house hotel – and a whole evening can happily be whiled away in one of the many lounge bars, before dinner in the conservatory dining room. For something a little more casual, try the Traddock in Austwick where a relaxed atmosphere gives you plenty of time to enjoy a slow food-inspired menu.
With evenings filled with food and wine, days can be as active or relaxed as you like. To get behind the scenes of all the local produce you’ve been consuming head to the Wensleydale creamery, the Black Sheep Brewery or Lishman’s of Ilkley – Rick Stein’s favourite butcher. The pretty town of Grassington is best visited on the third Sunday of every month, when local farmers fill the cobbled streets to sell speciality cheeses, meats, pies and ale.
Locals will tell you a trip to Yorkshire isn’t complete without afternoon tea, or more specifically, indulging in sugary treats at one of Betty’s tearooms. But for something a little more off the beaten track, try the Coniston Hotel in Skipton, where from the Huntsman Lodge you can enjoy a platter of cakes and fine teas while looking out over the 24-acre lake. For rest and relaxation, country house hotels offer the best spa experiences in the area. Try the Health Barn at the Devonshire Arms orSwinton Park in Masham. And if all that sounds a little hectic there’s always the option of heading up onto the moors straight from Hetton before retiring to the open fire for another cosy evening of food and drink.
A stay at the Angel at Hetton starts at £140 B&B or £240 full board. For more information, see the Angel at Hetton’s website.