Tucked away down a winding road amid the beautiful hills of a West Yorkshire valley lies the Shibden Mill Inn.
As we arrive in the White Rose county, the hills are snow-tipped, despite the imminent arrival of official spring.
When we leave it is different story with the arrival of The Beast from East two in the shape of eight plus inches of snow which transforms the entire county into a winter wonderland.
Safe to say there is nothing more glorious than an evening tucked in front of a roaring open fire, with a substantial gin and wine menu at hand, watching snow fall through the atmospheric windows of this former 17th century corn and spinning mill, part of the local landscape in the Shibden Valley for more than 350 years.
By morning, the idyllic environs required a shovel for the car and several welly-booted volunteers, but in the flickering firelight with the Inn’s superb chefs whipping up a five star meal under the original oak-beamed ceilings, a weekend escape could not get more perfect.
This was no momentary illusion brought on by weather and wine.
The Shibden Mill Inn strives for cosy luxury with a sophisticated edge that adds rather than detracts from its comfort.
A member of the Great Mills of Britain, its accommodation is AA5 Silver Star Inn rated and the dining has two Rosettes so my expectations were high.
What I was not expecting was the room.
As I opened the door to number 14 , one of 11 rooms on offer (scratches head), I was taken aback by the soaring ceiling as I walked in, allowing light to pour into Venetian-inspired decor with practical but nostalgic touches, a huge mirror above a standalone bath standing defiantly proud in the suite, rather than in the bathroom itself.
The main bedroom itself boasted a huge canopied Queen-size bed, the purple themes continued throughout.
At the end of the bed a cosy sofa offers a perfect spot for viewing a giant TV, with Freeview (there also a library of DVDs available to borrow free from reception, then a real surprise –the suite also offers a little hill-view garden area complete with table and chairs for those perfect summer days – or in may case - for building a snowman.
And not forgetting an essential modern touch, the wet room-style en suite with a huge power shower and immaculate ceramics and mirrors.
Tempting in fact to collapse in a relaxed haze on the sofa, watching the snow fall, before leaping in the giant bath with some bubbles. Instead we bravely ventured forth to the ground floor bar to fortify ourselves. Even walking along the crooked corridors of the ancient inn to find it was interesting -the walls adorned with a eclectic knife and fork motif.
The entrance to the bar itself a short trip downstairs past walls lined with bottles.
Once arrived I found a fairy-lit gin menu display.
They must have known I was coming.
Dinner was a cosy affair.
The personable waiting staff advised and served with polite efficiency, the food an eclectic mix shored up by local delicacies and available produce.
The Grill Room, with rustic decor amid the beams, focuses on Yorkshire-farm reared beef, lamb and chicken cooked in a chargrill oven.
I partook of a fillet steak, preceded by fresh celery and parsley soup completed with a poached egg and truffle crouton.
The next morning we feasted on a full Yorkshire breakfast, complete with locally sourced sausages and black pudding and a home-made muesli – lining our stomachs and re-caffeinating before venturing out into countryside strangely silenced by its blanket of snow.
Outside the inn, icicles stretched down into the ever-present tinkling Red Beck, the reason the mill made its home here so many years ago.
Before operation, ‘dig out the car’ we relinquished our keys with regret.
The snow plough had been and the steep hill cleared and there no excuse to stay another night in apart of Yorkshire well used to heavy snow.
Shame. But I’ll be back.
*The Shibden Mill Inn is located at Shibden Mill Fold, Shibden,Halifax, HX3 7UL
*Phone: 01422 365 840