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“very good standards, excellent restaurant”

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The Black Swan Hotel
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Helmsley
Certificate of Excellence
Durham, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
145 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
“very good standards, excellent restaurant”
Reviewed 22 February 2010

Had a Friday night break on one of the Black Swans all inclusive email specials. Having stayed before in modern rooms which are fine but a little characterless, we upgraded for £30 extra to an original room at the top of the stairs (room 14). Overlooking the market square it was warm, comfy bed, all the things you'd expect to find plus some extras which were nice such as robes, teddy bear, a turndown service and a complete refresh of water, biscuits on the evening when we were at dinner.
Our rate including a bottle of wine on ice when we arrived, a cream tea served in the lounge, dinner and breakfast. The lunge area has papers, magazines and comfy chairs with a good fire on an evening - very in keeping with the history of the Inn.
At dinner we upgraded from the already excellent table d'hote £33 each to the £50 6 course tasting menu and it's worth it. The portions aren't as big but they keep coming and it's all very good stuff.
An excellent goats cheese and salmon starter, really excellent rump lamb as a main, big scallops, full desert then a choice of three cheeses as well - Another £20 each gets 6 glasses of tasting wine to complement - not really expensive stuff (french Merlot, Kiwi Sauvignon etc) by any means but it goes well and includes things you'd miss out on such as Port with cheese and black Muscat with chocolate dessert if you'd gone for a regular bottle. Table water is free, service is European and very good with knowledgeable staff, well rehearsed in the dishes and wines.
Make no mistake, this restaurant is very good indeed.
A fresh breakfast, again excellent service, friendly and "happy".
the Black Swan is cheaper than the Faversham Arms, it's restaurant may not be quite as innovative as the Star at Harome (their pudding selection is amazing) but it is good. Expect an excellent night away and you won't be disappointed at all.
We like this place.

  • Stayed February 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank Guroo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Knaresborough
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 January 2010

Right from the start, nothing seemed to be too much trouble for the staff. We were made to feel really welcome on checking in, and provided with porterage of our cases to the spacious, well furninshed room. The package we were on (Bed, Breakfast and Evening Meal) was superb value for money. The meals were of excellent quality, really well presented on the plate, and served by the extremely attentive staff with aplomb. There was a really extensive wine list catering for all tastes, and the lounges and bar area were a pleasure to relax in. All in all a great way to spend a birthday, and we will certainly return there in the future.

  • Stayed January 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank ChasBKna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Liversedge, West Yorkshire
Level 5 Contributor
44 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 January 2010

Well... what can I say? we arrived with 3 other couples to celebrate a friends 40th Birthday on Saturday. Originally we had planned to goto the Crab & Lobster in Asenby; but for a change and the fact that there was a Spa around the corner at The Faversham Arms we settled on the Yorkshire Life Hotel/Restraunt of the year 2009.

On arrival we checked in and obtained a free parking pass for the Car Park at the front of the Hotel. [Nice touch] We then went upto our rooms. The rooms are a long way from reception and down narrow corridors, but then again it is an old building. Housekeeping throw in the odd obstical with Henry Vaccums and linen on the floor outside rooms. Anyway arrived at room 34. Ok standard of appearance but the bath had a constant drip; to the extent that the bath was water stained as it had been dripping longer than a few days. Wanting to make sure our other friends who we travelled with didnt have a better room we nipped into room 32. In this room there was a large skeleton of a Daddy Longlegs on the roof. It had clearly been there for sometime, and was too big to miss! This begs the question about overall housekeeping quality and hotel maintenance.

Anyway, when the rest of our party arrived we went down to the hotel bar for a quick bite to eat prior to the Boys going for a walk and the 4 girls heading to the Verbena Spa at the Feversham Arms. Cracking food for all except the most crucified Bacon Sandwich ever! overall the service was exceptionally slow.

In the evening, there was a wedding function on at the hotel. But the early problems that were going to continue throughout the night was the lack of staff. The bar was almost permanently unmanned! not great when you have a thirst and feel in a good mood to spend some cash.

We ordered Champagne and moved to the restauraunt for Dinner. It was here that the comedy really began......

We all ordered dinner.. and course by delayed course it arrived. One of my biggest bug bears is that if there are 8 diners, then ALL 8 diners should be served together. In our case 5 were served, then 2 and then myself. I compalned as was assured that everything had arrived as quickly as it possibly could. All 8 meals were luke warm at the best, and there was no vegatables. Quick call to the waitress to ask where these were and we were informed this was the meal and there was NO veg. We then asked to order some side orders of veg and were told that we couldnt because they DONT offer veg seperatly. Mmmmmm!

Anyway onto dessert. All 8 arrived together this time [I think they got the message] but half way through 2 plates of Veg arrived at the table!! Now... my 4 year old has strange dietry habits, but for me and the rest of the party, veg as a side order to Chocolate-something-or-other doesn't appeal to us! So, back to the kitchens it went. This now begged the question "where did they get the veg from that they dont serve with the meal or offer as a side order?"

There was an extreme lack of care in the dining room, clearly insuffient staff to deal with the number of guests and private Wedding Party and a lack of understanding of a Yorkshire Accent. All in all, not great when you live and work in North Yorkshire!

After we retreated to the bar, it took us ages to get the 1 bar person to serve us - that was when she was there. Im unsure where she kept dissappearing off to as the wedding party had a seperate bar. But basically, there was us and 10 ladies in the bar. We were dammed thirsty!

Morning after the night before.... Breakfast! Very nice if your lucky but if you ask for well done bacon or a poached egg then you will have a very long wait. The poached eggs must have been from an anorexic bird as they were the size of walnuts and the bacon fatty. Otherwise ok! But remember to ask for beans.... otherwise you wont get any! My wife had to send her breakfast back as it was all underdone and despite trying to eat it, she couldn't. 10 minutes later, the plate returned having clearly been under the heated lights as the bacon and sausage was still cut up!! The only changed the poached egg.

Overall - stay at the Feversham Arms or down the road at The Star at Harome. The Verbena Spa at the Faversham is excellent and the staff could not have been more attentive! They stood outside in the cold holding towels while my wife and friends took a dip in the heated outdoor pool!!

Helmsley is a wonderful place, shame about the Black Swan! Despite complaining - it went in one ear and out the other!

  • Stayed January 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank S5MAH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
North East
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 January 2010

Like many on this site I was concerned about booking having read some of the negative reviews. On arrival the hotel and Helmsley were very busy but check in was straightforward. Rooms were a long way from Reception and along narrow corridors. They vary greatly in style , size and furnishing. Our room was comfortable and clean but some updating would be desirable.
The evening meal was very good. Pleasant atmosphere in dining room.Service was friendly and prompt, the food delicious. Wine and drinks are very expensive. When will hotels realise that if drinks are more reasonable guests will spend more rather than ration themselves ?
Tried the hotel tea room which was nice but pricey . Not a great deal of choice in food. (No competition for a well known Yorkshire tea room )
Enjoyed the stay and would definitely return.

  • Stayed June 2009, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank NorthEastHolidaygirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
norfolk
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 January 2010

Returning to this lovely hotel during the festive season we looked forward to the promise of a warm welcome, good food, comfortable accommodation and a relaxing break after a hectic Christmas. We were not disappointed - cosy oak beamed lounges with crackling log fires to relax in await after a walk to nearby Rievaulx Abbey or a visit to Helmsley Castle enjoy a traditional cream tea or delicious sandwiches, followed by a candlelight dinner with good local food served by attentive staff then you have found a Yorkshire gem. Guests return regularly - why? besides the comfortable warm rooms - (ask for the rooms at the front), food and ambiance it is the staff which make this Hotel. Take time to explore the local shops - there is a wide choice. Leave the car in the car park and relax!!

  • Stayed December 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank bellenorfolk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oxford, England
Level 5 Contributor
47 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 January 2010

This hotel has great potential, situated on the edge of the North York Moors. However there is a crisis of management, our room was dirty, with an unclean toilet, dust, glass marks on surfaces and a kettle you would not use. I suspect it had not had a hoover. We complained and it was cleaned not correctly then cleaned again. The manager was concerned and helpful and refunded £50 per night. Overall the room was tired, frayed bed head and chairs, the TV analogue and I cannot believe it has 4 stars. I wonder if there is confusion with the Faversham Arms with the same owners which is 4 stars,

Our party of four had booked dinner for 8pm but could not get a seat, ordered at 8.20 and finally sat down at 8.45 pm. Overall the service outside of the restaurant was well below par but I must say the food was good and sufficient but the wine and drinks are very expensive. On the first night for after dinner liquors they ran out of Drambuie and on the second night Grand Marnier, pretty poor by my standard. The Drambuie had not been replaced.

This hotel allows pets and our friends had 2 dogs, we had left ours at home. There does not appear to be dog free rooms and if course the public areas suffer from muddy and wet dogs. We can live with that but be aware if you are allergic to dogs. Several of the storage rooms left open did not bear looking into. On our departure morning they wanted to clean the room before we had left for breakfast at 9am, checkout is 11am. On return the bed had been changed.

It does seem that there is an overall lack of management control and good old fashioned leadership. No one appeared to be in overall control. At one point before dinner when we had finally got to the pint of ordering the waitress told me she was not allowed to take the order she only did drinks. Even keeping the open fires, very nice but why were they not kept going? It appeared no one had responsibility to top them up. Trying to order drinks, coffee seemed to take an age and we had to chase.

The highlights were the spa we took at the sister hotel, Faversham Arms and the food which we all enjoyed.

  • Stayed January 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Mike49
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Notts UK
Level 4 Contributor
39 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 January 2010

We booked this hotel for a single night before reading the Tripadvisor review and was a little concerned prior to arrival. I need not have been.
Although on arrival there was a little confusion regarding the time we had reserved dinner this was rapidly corrected. Our room was large,comfortable and warm (it was -3C outside), the bed was soft, as was the linen, and the ensuite was modern and spotless.
The bar was perhaps just a little slow with service, but we soon had a drink and simple canapes. A good selection of menus was offered, the basic £33 three course included in the room price, an upgrade to A La Carte was offered for each course for a small extra fee, or you could enjoy the six course Tasting Menu for £17 extra each. We opted for the tasting menu which was well presented, paced just right and delicious. An extensive wine list is available, or, with the tasting menu you can opt for a different glass with each course. The restaurant was understated and comfortable, the waiting staff were pleasant and knolwedgeable with a good sense of humour. Earlier reviews mention cold food and small portions, our food was hot,fresh and the portion size was more than adequate for a six course menu, the cheese particularly was very generous.
Breakfast was hot, tasty, and taken in bed from a generous room service menu at no extra cost .
Overall a very pleasant experience which we intend to repeat. Ignore the 57% score (after all, even Sat Bains only gets 69% on Tripadvisor), we would readily recommend this hotel to anyone!

  • Stayed January 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank D0cd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Black Swan Hotel

Property: The Black Swan Hotel
Address: Market Place, Helmsley YO62 5BJ, England
Region: United Kingdom > England > Yorkshire > North Yorkshire > Helmsley
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Helmsley
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4 star — The Black Swan Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 45
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in one of Yorkshire's prettiest market towns, The Black Swan in Helmsley is a superb historic inn, turned boutique hotel. Dating back to the C15th the hotel, rich in history and charm, blends antiques with classic contemporary design creating the perfect place for a relaxing break. With its own 3 AA rosette restaurant and award winning tearoom, The Black Swan Hotel provides the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway and a chance to escape the everyday stresses and strains. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Black Swan Helmsley
Black Swan Hotel
The Black Swan Hotel Helmsley, Yorkshire

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