Hipping Hall takes its name from the Hipping, or stepping stones that once crossed Broken Beck, allowing travellers to cross the road that for hundreds of years has served to link the north west of England with the major cities of Leeds and York.
Sitting between the beautiful Lake District to the north and the rugged Yorkshire Dales, Hipping Hall is one of the country’s original boutique hotels.
Established around 15 years ago with just five or six rooms, it has slowly expanded, having recently renovated the stables next door, but it has never lost sight of what made it special in the first place.
As with any great place to stay it’s the attention to detail that matters. From the moment you arrive, you are made to feel welcome.
Depending on the time you check in you will often be invited into the lounge for tea and cake while you settle in and they take your bags to the room.
The house has a relaxed feel throughout, striking wallpaper designs are sympathetically juxtaposed with original features and comfy low sofas and leather arm chairs. Your fellow guests seemingly melt into the surroundings, so in spite of it being small and cosy, you never feel on top of one another.
My wife and I have been coming here regularly since it first opened. And over those intervening years we’ve tried plenty of other boutique hotels in the region, yet Hipping Hall keeps drawing us back.
To make a cherished night away from the kids complete, we like our fill of fine food, and in my case a drop of fine wine too. On this front Hipping Hall never lets you down.
Michelin style and quality but without the stuffiness, pomp or ceremony. Beautifully presented dishes with quirky amuse-bouche to whet your appetite, and the odd palate cleanser to keep you on your toes.
Last night we opted to go the whole hog and had the eight course tasting menu, and we shared the accompanying wine tasting menu.
If you can afford to push the boat out I’d recommend doing so, as it’s a great opportunity to sample the clever combinations of food and wine, and how dramatically (or not) the taste differs before and after sampling each course.
All the wines featured are supplied by Buon Vino based at the Courtyard off the A65. So if any really take your fancy you can grab a case on the way home. Likewise the cheeses are all expertly curated by The Courtyard Dairy, also located near Settle on the A65.
So, now for the food.
While the prospect of eight courses may sound daunting let me start by saying I’m not normally a big big eater. At a restaurant I’d probably opt for a light starter and a main, and maybe share a dessert if really pushed.
The Hipping Hall tasting menu courses are big enough to enjoy, but small enough not to fill you up too quickly.
The pacing is also measured and deliberate, we sat down at 7.30pm, and retired to the lounge for petit fours at around 10.40pm (another unexpected delight). Three hours flew by. In fact an unexpected delay before the fish course was actually a bonus in disguise as Becky my wife was beginning to flag.
I’ve often thought restaurants should give diners a pause card for such occasions. Anyhow, returning to the menu, we started with beetroot done in three ways, followed by homegrown courgette and verbena (delicious little pearls of lemon zingyness) then Lancaster eel (a first for me, and surprisingly good, not chewy or tough), a slight enforced delay from the kitchen, then turbot (mine was a little under, but maybe that’s just me), then a large scallop wrapped in coastal greens and sorrel, followed by your choice of either duck or beef (we shared a bite of one another’s, but for me the standout dish of the night was the duck, the skin was done to perfection). Savories over, time for dessert. First up a zingy palate cleanser to die for – Elderflower, meadowsweet cream and flowering currant (think really posh crushed ice with dainty petals), then a fun strawberry meringue with marjoram, and a nest of homemade doughnuts with jam inside, on a bed of grass – like you do.
The accompanying wine menu was as follows, note the third one down was a cider not a wine, which went with the Lancaster eel, which was a very good match, and quite ballsy of Hipping Hall to stick a cider on a wine tasting menu. The rose was unfiltered, so looked really cloudy – which was odd to look at as it made you think it wasn’t right to drink. Or in my mind it was going to give me a bad head. It didn’t, even after a digestive or two at the end of the night.
Jose Meyer Pinot Blanc
Stone Cross Cider
Le Duc Du Naues
Juracon Domine De Souch
The food was beautifully presented, expertly prepared and cooked to a tee. The flavours took you on a culinary journey, with a few quirky twists and turns along the way.
Head chef Oli Martin is only 28 years old, yet he’s already an accomplished gastronomic. Fiercely proud of his Lancashire roots, and someone who clearly takes his food seriously, he puts creations on the plate that make you smile when you see them, and grin once you’ve tasted them.
For me Hipping Hall fully deserves its reputation as one of the north’s best value boutique hotels.
Over the years it has consistently delivered on its promise to provide the very best service to ensure our stay is both enjoyable and relaxing.
I’m pleased to say the stepping stone to the lakes didn’t let us down. If you would like to find out more about staying in one of their cottage rooms like we did then you can check the Hipping Hall website. cheers all! 🙂