FOR discovering the delights of the picturesque North Yorkshire countryside, the stunning The Pheasant Hotel, near the charming market town of Helmsley is the perfect base, as Iwan Davies found out.

A stylish country inn with fabulous accommodation and a deserved reputation for delivering first-rate modern British cuisine, The Pheasant Hotel takes some beating.

Overlooking a duck pond in the serene village of Harome, its location is prime and the hotel is an oasis of calm.

It is also on the doorstep of some top attractions – from exploring the majestic Castle Howard, of Brideshead Revisited fame, to the seaside charms of Whitby and Scarborough, as well as the moorland and market towns, there’s always plenty to do in the Ryedale area.

Once a blacksmith’s, village shop and barn, the hunting lodge style hotel in gorgeous surroundings has 16 comfortable rooms, heated indoor swimming pool and there’s WiFi if you don’t want to be completely cut off from the rest of the 21st century.

The superb restaurant is a huge draw with highly-regarded head chef and joint owner Peter Neville attracting a legion of admirers from far and wide.

His menus change with the seasons and among the many highlights on my visit last month, were the dressed white crab with heritage tomato, pink grapefruit and brown crab mayonnaise to start and the equally exquisite 60-day aged sirloin with caramelised onions, fondant potato and beef fat mushroom as a main.

In keeping with the importance placed on high quality produce, many of the vegetables and fruits are grown in The Pheasant’s own garden. The wine list is also top notch as are the sumptuous breakfasts.

Weather-permitting, breakfast, lunch and dinner can be taken on the terrace overlooking the duck pond.

I stayed at the hotel with my wife and teenage daughter and we were lodged in one of the elegant cottage-style family rooms away from the main building, which had a double room, children’s room, sitting room area with an open fire and a mini-kitchen, and bathroom.

Added to it all is the faultless service from the friendly and attentive staff who helped make this one a most memorable stay.

If you want to get out and about, just over 11 miles away, is Castle Howard (, widely regarded as one of Britain’s finest stately homes and gardens.

Fans of the classic 1981 TV adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, starring a youthful Jeremy Irons, and perhaps the novel’s far less illustrious 2008 movie version, will lap up Castle Howard’s splendour and its inspiring architecture, interiors and world-renowned collections.

There was also a link between Castle Howard our next port of call, Malton, just down the road, a top foodie destination which is styled as ‘Yorkshire’s Food Capital’.

A market town, Malton is the home of the Talbot Hotel ( which was where many of the cast and crew were billeted for the early 80s production of Brideshead Revisited.

These days, the Talbot is home to the cracking Malton Brasserie ( which serves great food in an unpretentious environment at a decent price.

We were given a warm welcome there by the lovely staff and can heartily recommend the wonderful Brass Castle beer battered fish and chips and the 10oz dry aged sirloin steak, French fries and brasserie bearnaise.

They also do a cracking pint of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord and a meal for two with drinks can cost around £30.

• For more information, including special breaks and offers, contact The Pheasant Hotel, Harome, near Helmsley, North Yorkshire YO62 5JG, England, 01439 771241,