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Review: Stank House Farm, Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire Dales, UK

Stank House Farm is one of three luxury holiday properties that make up Yorkshire Boltholes, a distinguished collection of luxury holiday cottages within the breathtaking Bolton Abbey Estate on the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Dating back to 1744, this traditional stone farmhouse was meticulously renovated to the highest standards in 2015, and today seamlessly blends its rich heritage with a variety of cosy luxuries.

Yorkshire Boltholes is part of the Devonshire Hotels & Restaurants Group Ltd. (owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire) which also encompasses the previously-reviewed Cavendish Hotel at Baslow in the Peak District.

The welcome

Our arrival at the property was very straight forward. Upon confirmation of our booking, we were provided with Google directions and a what3words location. The farmhouse lies just off the B6160 on what was once the main road to Barden and the moor – popular for grouse shooting. All we had to do was navigate past a few sheep and a couple of cattle grids, and pick up the keys from a secure lockbox to gain access. Self check-in is from 4pm on the day of arrival and check-out is by 10am on the day of your departure, as is customary for self-catering accommodation in the UK.

The property

Stepping into the property, we were greeted by a large entrance hall with a traditional flagstone floor, setting the tone for the entire home, and a great space for coats and boots after a day of walking. The impressive dining room came next – a perfect setting for family gatherings with seating for up to 8 people around a large farmhouse dining table, whilst a grand fireplace with a wood-burning stove, exposed wooden beams, an impressive antler-clad light fitting and period furniture complete the décor. What’s really nice is that The Duke and the Duchess of Devonshire have a first hand interest in the planning and decoration of their boltholes, using a mixture of antique and classical furniture, soft furnishings and interesting artwork to create home-from-home abodes with a traditional country lifestyle feel.

Beyond the dining room is a well-equipped kitchen, boasting granite work surface and all the amenities you’d need to whip up anything from a light breakfast to a sumptuous family banquet. There’s an impressive Rangemaster Professional+ induction hob and oven, not to mention a dishwaster, microwave, fridge, separate freezer, coffee machine, toaster, kettle and all the utensils you’d need (not to mention a number you probably won’t!).

The elegant and spacious living room on the ground floor – where there’s a TV, a second wood-burning stove, a plentiful supply of firewood and a selection of board games – is a sociable place to relax with friends or family. Pictures on the walls depict local, historical scenes whilst the south-facing windows mean you can marvel at present day views across the valley.

French doors open out onto a terrace and gardens that wrap around the house, inviting guests to immerse themselves in the surrounding natural beauty. There’s an outdoor barbecue but the highlight for us was the hot tub where you can enjoy a relaxing soak with unspoiled views.

Finally, on the ground floor is an en suite bedroom with a beautiful wooden canopy bed, a chaise longue and a writing desk, and the same panoramic views towards Bolton Abbey. The accompanying bathroom comes complete with a luxurious shower over a roll-top bath.

Two further tastefully furnished en suite bedrooms are to be found upstairs, meaning the property can accommodate up to 6 guests. The master bedroom boasts a stunning four-poster bed

The third and final bedroom has twin beds as well as its own en suite.

We found that the property had reliable WiFi throughout, as well as there being a good mobile signal (at least on the O2 network). Stank House Farm is also dog friendly and provided an inviting atmosphere for our Springer spaniel, George. Responsible dog owners are welcome to enjoy the many walks from the property, so long as they are mindful of livestock and wildlife.

The facilities

Guests of Stank House Farm can also make use of the spa facilities at The Devonshire Arms, located in an ancient barn just a mile down the road., by booking a timed slot in advance. Equipped with a state–of-the-art vitality pool, sauna, steam room, rasul chamber and lounge, it’s the perfect place to unwind or to simply escape a wet day in the Yorkshire Dales.

A ‘phase two’ of the spa is planned which will see more eco-conscious and nature-focused experiences, such as wild bathing, designed to enhance the wellbeing benefits of guests.

Nearby The Brasserie & Bar, also part of The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa, holds an AA Rosette and is a vibrant yet relaxed location to dine.

To start, I had the delectable wild mushrooms served on crispy bruschetta and adorned with a delightfully creamy burrata, before being drizzled with a cavolo nero (black kale) pesto dressing.

My son enjoyed a prawn cocktail with a difference, consisting of king prawns and crab, smashed avocado and chilli flakes.

For my main, I enjoyed an aromatic and flavourful lamb tagine with a deliciously rich blend of cinnamon, dates, and honey, served alongside pomegranate pearl couscous.

Meanwhile, my wife loved her corn-fed chicken paired with crispy truffled gnocchi, garlic-infused spinach and king oyster mushrooms.

Despite the quality of food on offer, the brasserie is a very relaxed and informal place to dine, where dogs are also welcome.

For a more formal, 2 AA Rosette fine dining experience, there is also The Burlington restaurant.

The location

Set within the 30,000-acre Bolton Abbey Estate, Stank House Farm is just a mile from Bolton Priory, a 12th-century Augustinian monastery steeped in history, that lies at its heart, close to the meandering River Wharfe and its narrow, powerful segment known as the Strid. This picturesque Yorkshire Dales estate is connected by the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway and consists of diverse landscapes, from ancient woodlands and rolling meadows to heather-clad moors, much of which is accessible through miles of all-weather walking routes.

Set within the 30,000-acre Bolton Abbey Estate, Stank House Farm is just a mile from Bolton Priory, a 12th-century Augustinian monastery steeped in history, that lies at its heart, close to the meandering River Wharfe and its narrow, powerful segment known as the Strid. This picturesque Yorkshire Dales estate is connected by the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway and consists of diverse landscapes, from ancient woodlands and rolling meadows to heather-clad moors, much of which is accessible through miles of all-weather walking routes.

To clarify (because it took me a while to get my head around it!), the term ‘Bolton Abbey’ is commonly used to refer to the estate, but also sometimes to the village. ‘Bolton Priory’, meanwhile, specifically refers to the 12th-century Augustinian monastery – now in ruins – which adjoins ‘Bolton Priory Church’ (officially known as ‘The Priory Church of Bolton Abbey’), an Anglican church within the diocese of Leeds, which is regularly open to visitors and has services on Wednesday and Sunday mornings.

The village of Bolton Abbey is home to several cafés, a second-hand book shop and a village shop where the Barlick Yarn Fairies regularly work their magic upon a red postbox.

The market towns of Skipton and Ilkley are within easy driving distance – we visited the former to take part in their weekly parkrun – whilst the likes of Harrogate, Bradford, Leeds and York are a little further afield.

Other nice touches

A host of very thoughtful extras were left for us in the kitchen, including a bottle of the Chatsworth’s Earl of Burlington rouge 2021, perfectly complemented with a selection of Yorkshire crisps, as well as a loaf of bread and jars of Chatsworth jam and marmalade, not to mention some delicious cookies. Tea, coffee and milk were also supplied.

The cost

3-night breaks out of season typically start from around £1,400 whilst a full week in peak season is approximately £4,000.

The best bit

While the hot tub adds a delightful touch, what I’d say truly sets Stank House Farm apart is the delicate balance of historic charm and elegant interiors, with all the up-to-date amenities that you might expect from a luxury property. Successfully providing modern conveniences whilst also retaining the unique character and history of an old farmhouse is no mean feat. A Netflix-enabled flat screen TV sitting on top of an old Singer sewing machine table in the lounge is a classic example of this seamless integration of contemporary facilities and antique appeal.

The final verdict

Stank House Farm stands as a fine example of luxury self-catering accommodation in the UK, setting the bar high and serving as a beacon for others to emulate. What sets this bolthole apart though – besides the quality of the accommodation – is that, whilst it is self-catering, the amenities of the the Devonshire Arms Hotel are less than a mile away, be it for the use of the spa or dining at the brasserie. The upshot of this is that guests can enjoy the best of both worlds – all the privacy and independence that comes with a luxury rental property, but also all the facilities that are typically associated with a luxury hotel.

Dislcosure: Our stay was sponsored by Yorkshire Boltholes of the Devonshire Hotels & Restaurants Group Ltd.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. From the pictures you can see that the Duke and Duchess have a steering hand on the decor, it all looks very stately home! I think I’d feel very at home within that sort of ambience.

    1. Hi Sara – they are said to have had an active role in creating each and every one of the properties that make up the Yorkshire Boltholes, which is no mean feat when they are also very much hands-on in helping to run Chatsworth (known as ‘the Palace of the Peaks’) as a tourist attraction.

  2. I could do with a meal out at the brasserie. I’ve just realised that due to colds, post-Xmas economies and filling in self-assessment tax forms we actually haven’t had a night out in January.

  3. I know that part of the country well as I’ve done a lot of walking round there. It’s certainly a beautiful place to be based if you’re the outdoors type and it looks to be a very solidly built house too.

  4. Exactly the sort of luxurious house we’re looking for sometime during the Spring. Thank you for a great recommendation.

  5. Are there instructions on how the Rangemaster and induction hob work?

    In the past we’ve struggled with some appliances in rental properties.

    Though in fairness, some places have apps with all the info you’ll ever need.

    1. Hi Diana – I can’t say I looked for the instructions but there was an information folder, so maybe it was in there. To be honest, we found it very straight forward and had no issues, using both the hob and the oven. There is also an app that you can download your stay, but I think that had more local information within it, rather than details about specific appliances. Really, though, I don’t think you’d have any trouble – it was very intuitive.

  6. When you’ve got a kitchen of that quality, especially with all of those utensils, it’s almost an invitation to cook. Especially when you’ve got the time to meander around local shops and farm shops sorting out your ingredients.

  7. These ALTB reviews are often far more reliable than what you read elsewhere on the internet.

    There’s one well known review site where there are far too many hyper critical reviews. It’s got to the point now where I only read them after I’ve stayed.

    We stayed at one hotel where one reviewer said the heating was off, the shower was a cold dribble and the food was terrible. When we visited everything was excellent.

    1. Thank you, Jim – we try to be detailed and thorough, covering not just the property itself, but also the facilities and the destination. Given that we focus on luxury, I’m pleased to say it’s very rare for us to encounter any of the kinds of things you’ve mentioned. Usually everything is top-notch which makes doing a review that bit easier and more pleasurable!

  8. Stank House is an infinitely higher league than the sort of self-catering accommodation we end up at. The sort of place where the starter catering pack consists of 2 tea bags, 1 sachet of coffee and a small fruit cake.

    I think we can learn a lot about how to do self-catering from Stank House: we need to have higher expectations.

    1. In the old days of self-catering (and I’m going back 30-40 years), there was no such thing as a welcome basket of any kind. It was very much as it sounds – you catered for yourself. You brought your own tea, coffee, etc. Even sometimes your own bedding and towels. Self-catering accommodation has come on leaps and bounds since then (thankfully!), particularly at the luxury end of the market.

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