January’s crisp weather makes cosy pubs and barns are a no-brainer for a weekend away. Heading north to get away from it all, beauty editor Lucy Partington discovers the old-fashioned charm of Malton.
I’d never heard of Malton. This is despite growing up in a town only 90 minutes away and the fact it’s been voted one of the best places to live in Britain more than once. Don’t worry, I’ve since had words with myself.
After leaving York station – a surprisingly speedy one hour and 52 minutes from London King’s Cross – I drive the last 40 minutes of the journey through the rolling Yorkshire hills and it’s a perfect winter’s day (cold and crisp with bright sunshine) when I arrive at The Talbot.
Situated right on the edge of Malton, The Talbot is a 17th-century coaching house that’s recently been refurbished. It’s been designed by the founders of The Lucky Onion, a family of boutique hotels and restaurants (who have since parted ways and set up a new group of hotels and inns called Country Creatures), which means it’s both stylish and welcoming. There are exposed brick walls, solid oak floors and a sitting room filled with comfy armchairs, roaring fireplaces and stacks of newspapers. Dotted around are an abundance of antique ornaments, and my room has a decadent four-poster bed, while my en suite has a standalone bath overlooking the moors.
Not so long ago Malton was a deserted northern town, but it’s been given a new lease of life; reborn as the food capital of Yorkshire. And it really lives up to its name: not only is there a Food Lovers Festival – a three-day event every May that happens alongside a local craft beer fair – but there’s a monthly food market, a harvest food festival in September and the so-called Marathon du Malton – a 10k race where runners can snack on gourmet treats such as mini lobster brioches and sample artisan gin along the way. Even at other times of the year, a quick Google search throws up plenty of local walks that help to work up an appetite.
As expected, food at The Talbot is impeccable and reason alone to visit. Head chef Robert Brittain has curated a menu using local produce which extends to drinks, too. Before dinner I have a hedgerow rhubarb and raspberry gin, then share a local asparagus and new potato salad which comes with a perfectly crispy hen’s egg (honestly, a deep-fried poached egg blew my mind). Next we have fillet of Yorkshire beef with hand-cut chips and a watercress and béarnaise sauce, and a perfectly roasted lamb rump served with pearl barley, spring vegetables and rosemary. Pudding is treacle tart with clotted cream and a steamed ginger pudding – both of which we don’t really have room for but are too delicious to resist.
After a solid night’s sleep I get up bright and early, help myself to the better-than- average buffet breakfast (and order smoked salmon and scrambled eggs off the hot menu for good measure) before having a wander around the town. First, I discover Talbot Yard, a tiny courtyard of shops selling their local produce, including gelato, roasted coffee, sourdough loaves and macarons. There’s an abundance of independent clothes stores, winding side streets with quaint gift shops, a cookery and gin school, and plenty of coffee shops to hop between. I cosy up in Yo Bakehouse, a cafe serving homemade sandwiches, hot chocolate that’s not shy on the whipped cream and the gooiest, chocolatiest brownies that I buy to fuel me for my journey back to London.
Turns out 24 hours away from the city, some fresh air, a log fire and some hearty, home-cooked food really are good for the soul.
Rooms at The Talbot start at £88 including breakfast.
Images: John Carey