A drive along winding roads just off the A19, breezing through the lush greenery of North Yorkshire, Crab Manor will creep up on you – hidden atop a gravelled driveway and within beautifully kept grounds. A secret garden with water features, antique archways, palm trees and pretty blooms left, right and centre. It’s the perfect place for anyone who appreciates the finer things in life. It’s tasteful, it’s tranquil and it’s travel-inspired – so from the comfort of the peaceful North Yorkshire countryside, you feel like you’ve been whisked away on a whimsical journey across the globe.
When I say tasteful, it’s tasteful in a very different way to contemporary dwellings or even country-chic manor houses you might find in these parts. The place is packed with treasured trinkets – but they all have a story to tell. The interior design strategy here is ‘anything goes’ – and it really does, so long as it’s quirky. The main manor house holds a collective combination of ‘bits and pieces’ – and there’s definitely an art to it.
A yeti greets you in the entrance hall and once inside, you can search for the hidden beer tap to top up your pint before relaxing in your room or suite. There’s a lot going on – but it’s not cluttered. It’s different. It’s a collector’s cave of quirky keepsakes. There’s an eclectic collection of decorative antiques from tropical animal and matryoshka dolls to copper kettles and grandfather clocks. It’s creative chaos at its very finest. A beautifully bizzare take on country house luxury.
There’s no formal check-in process, you simply step inside like you’re arriving at a friend’s house for the weekend. Your bags are picked up and you’re taken to your room. The rooms and suites all celebrate their own uniqueness – inspired by exotic destination all over the world. So you can tick things off your travel bucket-list without venturing too far. From the South Pacific and Bora Bora to Mumbai and Beijing, each room is filled with authentic antiques and artefacts from its inspired destination.
Crab Manor boasts 20 rooms, spread across the Georgian manor, the tranquil thatched lodge, Scandinavian pine cabins, enchanting garden rooms and the luxury suites.
In an outbuilding across the gardens, after literally climbing a flight of stairs to paradise, we arrive at the Shangri La suite, our home for the evening. The suite is a modern take on centuries of Chinese tradition with the perfect combination of artistic charm and modern architecture – with hand painted artwork and Hutong-inspired décor. I feel like I’ve been whisked away to another world where tranquillity meets urban living. Outside, I’m in the most remote Yorkshire location. Inside, I’m in a bustling Beijing boudoir.
The suite has everything you desire and more; elegance, style and perfection at every touch point. With panelled divisions splitting the room up into a luxurious lounge area, a bedroom, dressing room and bathroom, you’ll find a 70-inch television, a super king sized and super comfy bed that makes you feel like you’re floating on a cloud, a roll top bath for seriously swish soaking and a twin shower head. And if that’s not enough, take a trip down the staircase and you have a private hot tub for a bit more soaking splendour.
As tempting as switching off for the day and living it up in our Hutong hideaway is, we pop our foodie heads on and make our way to the restaurant. The manor’s twinned establishment, the Crab & Lobster sits within the grounds. And after a short walk through the gardens, we’re ready for a hearty dinner.
The quirkiness doesn’t go a miss here. It’s a cosy space, adorned with curious collectables and obscure ornaments hanging from the ceiling. Some are inspired by the ocean, poking through fishing nets, but there’s the odd ice skate, drum and pot doll in there too. It’s a Tuesday evening and there’s a Saturday night vibe – every table is taken and guests chit-chatter as wine glasses clink and fresh fish aromas fly through the air.
Seated and wined, we order from the a la carte menu. Crispy fishcakes (£10.50) for my dinner date – filled with local codling, haddock and oak roast salmon, topped with seasonal greens, smoked bacon, poached egg and leek cream. A real sucker when it comes to anything cheesy, I opt for the twice baked cheese soufflé (£11). A fluffy formation of Wensleydale, Ribblesdale and spinach, finished off with a garnish of carrot, pickled blackberries, and roast pinenuts. A deliciously delicate and light dish, and the perfect compromise to a stodgy, cream-covered soufflé.
In keeping with the oceanic theme of the place, for mains I go for the ‘Crab’s’ fish pie (£22), bursting with scallops, prawns and mussels, topped with fortune kipper mash, fresh crab meat and a cheddar crust. With a handful of buttered greens thrown in there, it’s the perfect fishy dish and a hearty pub meal with added elegance.
It’s the grilled prime aged grand reserve sirloin steak (£27) for my companion. With a roast onion and chorizo crust, the flavours are impeccable and the meat is cooked perfectly pink. Hand cut chips and a baby leaf garnish finish it off. Getting a steak right can tell you a lot about a place – and although the seafood offering tops it for me, the Crab & Lobster’s local meat is a winner too.
The curious crab and the lavish lobster come together as one here, giving guests a hearty pub meal with the perfect balance between playful lust and luxury. The whole dining experience is something so unique; we leave pining for more – planning our next trip with the family. The portions are quite hefty, so unfortunately we can’t squeeze in a dessert on this occasion, but we’re eyeing up the ‘Crab’s’ assiette (£18) for next time – a plate packed with miniature desserts.
After a dip in the hot tub and a snooze on a cloud-like mattress, breakfast is served in the restaurant pavilion. Cheery breaky staff welcome us in for a relaxed affair, albeit quite surreal with buoys and scuba divers hanging over head. We opt for the Yorkshire breakfast, a plate packed with all your breakfast favourites. A delicious start to the day.
Crab Manor is an escape from routine – offering complete luxury, a unique, eccentric elegance and a quick getaway to some of the most exotic isles in the world. It’s a quirky bubble surrounded by its beautiful landscape. A curious destination that takes you on a journey. It’s a lavish break but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s fun and as far as we’re concerned, it’s fabulous.