We’re just back from a mid-week break in Skipton, north Yorkshire, and – right at this moment – we’re not sure we ever want to holiday anywhere else again.
Now, I realise that’s a pretty bold statement (and I’m sure we’ll change our tune soon enough), but the self-catering cottage really did deliver on all fronts. One of a portfolio of luxury holiday properties available through Gorgeous Cottages, Higher Scarcliffe is beautiful both inside and out. And that’s coming from someone who’s pretty fussy – a side effect of spending several years writing about dream holidays as a job.
Here are 6 reasons we fell in love with the place, and we think you might do, too…
1. The interiors are, well, gorgeous
Gorgeous Cottages only deal in luxury properties, so the clue is very much in the name. Looking through their website, there just aren’t any run-of-the-mill places, and Higher Scarcliffe is no exception. On the one hand, the traditional long house dates back to the 17th century, so it’s full of period features – from big inglenook fireplaces to high, beamed ceilings.
On the other hand, the place has been totally renovated to include modern furniture throughout and contemporary art on every wall, not to mention some pretty cool Ordnance Survey wallpaper. The end result is like something from a glossy magazine, and we were all bowled over from the second we stepped foot in the place.
2. The setting is second-to-none
Look out of any of the windows at Higher Scarcliffe and you’re treated to sweeping views over the Yorkshire Dales. The cottage is actually on the grounds of the Broughton Hall Estate, a 3000-acre blanket of greenery that surrounds historic Broughton Hall itself. It means the views are completely unspoilt and passing traffic is pretty much unheard of – the only cars we saw were glossy Land Rovers cruising down to the Land Rover Experience centre (the husband had a one-hour taster session and hasn’t stopped talking about it since). There are cycling and walking routes on the doorstep, too.
When you want to check in with civilisation, the closest town – Skipton – is just under a ten-minute drive away and home to loads of shops, the closest petrol station (for miles) and a huge Tesco and Morrisons. It’s close enough to nip out to collect a takeaway – we had a lovely dinner from Thai Basil.
3. The cottage is family and adult-friendly
I have a bit of a thing about child-friendly holidays, because often it feels like companies forget that parents want luxury, too. Yes, my house is looking decidedly less pretty now that it contains the contents of a small branch of the Early Learning Centre. But that’s precisely why, when I go on holiday, I want to be surrounded by nice things – and I don’t think ‘child-proofing’ should have to get in the way.
Gorgeous Cottages are well and truly on the same page. Higher Scarcliffe is child-friendly to the point of having a highchair, a travel cot, and loads and loads of space. But there are also pretty – and very smashable – ornaments, fluffy white rugs that don’t agree with felt-tip pens, beautiful stone fireplaces and some lovely pieces of antique furniture. Those are exactly the things that give the place a luxury feel, and I’d take those over a padded, wipe-clean room any day.
4. There’s loads of space
There are so many rooms here – not to mention nooks and crannies – that it would be ideal for a group holiday or a break with several families. For starters, there’s a big kitchen with a table for six adults (or eight kids), plus a much more formal dining room that seats eight. There are also four toilets, two of which are bathrooms.
But it’s the living rooms that stand out. The main one is an entire section at one end of the house, with a double-height ceiling and the biggest stone fireplace in the world, according to the eldest (he’s not wrong – it’s ginormous). The other is smaller and cozier, with another wood-burning stove for chilly nights, and a TV with a full Sky package – we made good use of the kids’ channels in the mornings and in The Witching Hour before bed.
The cottage has three double bedrooms, all of which have space for a travel cot, plus a futon on the mezzanine in the main sitting room. There’s plenty of outdoor space, too. We were a bit sad not to get a chance to use the BBQ or the fire pit next to the cottage, but the kids burned off plenty of energy outside and we sat out in the evenings and watched the sun set over the Dales.
5. The finer details are covered
We’ve stayed at a lot of self-catering cottages as a family, and we’ve learned to always pack certain essentials. We needn’t have bothered at Higher Scarcliffe. The kitchen had everything we needed to cook several meals as though we were at home, and I think the only thing I did regret not packing was a couple of washing tablets, as there’s a washer/dryer in the utility room.
The kitchen aside, finer details also came in the form of a really comprehensive information booklet, with everything from recommended places to visit and local restaurants, to walking and cycling routes nearby.
6. The local area is packed with things to do
This part of Yorkshire has so many things to do with children that we felt as though we barely scratched the surface on a four-night break. Our top picks from what we did do are Bolton Abbey and Hesketh Farm Park, and I’ve listed our top 5 activities for under-5s here, plus some tips about how to get the most out of a visit. Plus, there are plenty of beautiful walks and pretty villages to explore if you’re on a budget.
Gorgeous Cottages kindly provided us with a stay at Higher Scarcliffe for the purpose of this review. As always, all views expressed here are our own.