Admittedly, this wasn’t my first time at the Crab & Lobster, a hidden gem of a hotel and restaurant located just off the A168 near Thirsk. I had visited the venue on two previous occasions but knowing it as I did, I was confident that this latest visit would provide a different experience. And I wasn’t disappointed.
The Crab & Lobster comprises a characterful pub and award-winning restaurant while a walk along a tree-lined path and though the formal gardens brings you to Crab Manor, the 18th century Georgian Manor Hotel. Here, every bedroom is inspired by different luxury hotels and resorts, including Bora Bora in the South Pacific, Mount Nelson in Cape Town, Burj Al Arab in Dubai and the Cipriani Palace in Venice.
In addition, there is a thatched lodge, Scandinavian pine cabins, garden rooms and luxury suites to choose from – all individually furnished, with private hot tubs and saunas to make a stay extra special.
My partner and I stayed in The Hermitage suite, part of a new building that was erected around a year ago.
At a hefty £350 per night, The Hermitage is not cheap but the opulent décor inspired by the Tzar’s winter home in St Petersburg makes quite an impression.
The vastly proportioned suite features mirrored panelling, green leather-clad walls and an epically ornate gold king-size bed.
There is also a separate dressing area and lounge with green velvet sofas, while the deluxe bathroom contains a free-standing roll-top bath and walk-in shower with rain-forest attachment.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, The Hermitage offers a private outdoor terrace housing a hot tub and sauna unit.
After enjoying a quick soak in the hot tub and a complimentary drink from the mini bar, my partner and I ventured back to the Crab & Lobster for our evening meal. For a weekday, the place was packed with diners, seemingly a mix of locals and overnighters.
After enjoying an aperitif in the pub, we were shown to our table in the conservatory, which offers an eclectic mix of artworks, bric-a-brac and objets d’art.
While in some places I get the impression that the owners have purchased a job-lot of antiques in an attempt to make their venue look more characterful, I don’t think this is the case at the Crab & Lobster. Instead, my guess is that each piece of art, trinket, marionette doll and crab ornament has its own story to tell.
The menu, unsurprisingly, centres around seafood, but if the fruits of the sea aren’t to your liking then there are a number of meat options and a separate vegetarian menu, too.
I opted for the ample crispy fishcake (£10.50) to start, which offered a good mix of white fish, salmon, pancetta and vegetables and was served with a creamy leek sauce and a poached egg.
My partner chose the fun prawn ’bocker glory (£13) for his starter, with prawns, cucumber jelly, Bloody Mary relish, gem lettuce and single malt Marie Rose sauce, served with a crevette fritter and a crab and lobster spring roll on the side.
I went all out for my main and ordered the roast garlic butter lobster (half portion £26; full portion is also available for £52) which came topped with queen scallops and king prawns and served with chunky chips, side salad and a herb mayonnaise.
My adventurous partner decided on one of the specials – the chargrilled swordfish loin with Thai green king prawn curry and steamed fragrant basmati rice (£21) which, although not as indulgent as my main, was packed with flavour and greatly enjoyed.
Full from our first two courses, my partner and I couldn’t manage dessert but could have picked from the likes of treacle tart, a parfait of strawberry and elderflower or a Belgian chocolate cheesecake.
Instead, we soaked up some more of the lively atmosphere while polishing off our bottle of Pinot Grigio, before retiring for the evening to our opulent room fit for Russian aristocracy.
The next morning, my early-to-rise partner took full advantage of the room’s facilities and had a sauna, followed by a bath and a shower. I, on the other hand, enjoyed a child-free morning with a lie-in.
We then made our way back to restaurant where continental breakfast options were followed by a selection of hot dishes that included a full Yorkshire, steak and eggs, and Craster kippers.
Both of us opted for the top-quality full Yorkshire breakfasts that boasted all the usual trimmings.
For most of us, a stay at the Crab & Lobster will be reserved to celebrate a extra special occasion and what it lacks in a spa, leisure centre or golf course, it more than makes up for in great service, wonderful food and truly unique accommodation that’s different every time.
It had certainly impressed the guest who, when I was checking out, was already booking her next visit – before the current one was over. Praise indeed!