Gateways Cottage, Thornton-le-Dale
I've always dreamed of living in Lansquenet, the fictional village depicted in Joanne Harris's novel Chocolat. It is a place that feels magical and full of possibility. The fantasy of waking up every morning and being able to walk a few yards with my shopping basket to the baker, the corner store and a handmade chocolate shop is an enduring one for me. I'd love to take coffee outside in the local cafe, chat to the friendly locals and admire the pretty little houses that line the road. But who knew that this lifestyle could actually be found in North Yorkshire? For Thornton-le-Dale in the North York Moors National Park is the living embodiment of that magical place - a haven of picturesque cottages with a babbling stream that runs alongside the road and an actual village green complete with market cross and stocks. The locals are some of the friendliest I've ever met and there is an artisan chocolate maker, a bakery and a handmade pasta shop to buy my groceries in. It's basically my dream come true.
I was lucky enough to be invited to stay for a weekend at Gateways in beautiful Thornton-le-Dale with Gorgeous Cottages. Having previously stayed last year at Burtersett in the Dales I knew this would be another great place as Gorgeous Cottages offer a hand-picked collection of the finest luxury holiday cottages throughout Yorkshire. Sadly the only weekend we could go was one when the husband was working so I asked my good friend Shona and her daughter Lucy to join me and the moody teen. Thankfully Lucy is a very willing model for the camera but the moody teen is not so much these days. We set off on Friday afternoon and arrived just as it was starting to get dark outside. Pulling up to the driveway we thought the cottage was really pretty, yet small for so many people as it sleeps five. But we couldn't have been more wrong. It's like the Tardis, it's huge on the inside. There were so many rooms to take in - an enormous kitchen with dining area and a larder cupboard, two living rooms, a palatial master bedroom, a generous sized twin room and another small but perfectly formed single room. I'm sure the bathroom was bigger than the top floor in my house! We arrived to a warm cottage and a few lights already turned on which is particularly handy when you arrive at 4pm in November. There was also a lovely basket of edible goodies waiting for us on the kitchen table and a bottle of wine in the fridge.
The cottage has been recently refurbished by it's current owners and you can tell that it is a property that is close to their hearts and a place that makes them happy (there is a charming introduction from them in the welcome pack). Gateways is an elegant, modern home which has been designed with comfort in mind and is beautifully styled throughout. From the reclaimed floorboards, the Georgian sash windows to the limestone flagstones in the kitchen, it fully embraces it's period features too.
After a quick explore, the kids were desperate to hit the chocolate shop before it closed for the day so we headed out to explore the village. Literally, a hop, skip and a jump across the road is the Chocolate Factory where they make all their chocolates by hand. And oh boy, they were good. I love rose and violet creams and bought a small bag of them, and with hand on heart, I've never had better (sadly they don't sell online so I've just got to dream about them until I can make a return trip to the village). We bought a few provisions from the local shop and then headed back to Gateways to light the wood burning stove, pour a big old glass of red and make dinner.
The main living room in Gateways is cozy, wrapped up with a big bow of luxury. With wood panelling on the walls in a muted shade of grey, exposed brickwork, beamed ceiling and industrial style lighting, the room has a lovely modern rustic feel. The sofas are deep and soft, the armchair and footstool great to curl up in and watch television. The wood burning stove kept us toasty warm all evening and we spent plenty of time in this room chatting, laughing and putting the world to rights as the kids surfed the television channels. We all felt completely at home. Wi-fi keeps you connected to the outside world if you need it too.
Across the hallway and there is a second living space - known as the 'snug'. Here there is another wood burning stove, a little sofa with thick woolen blankets and a leather armchair to while away the hours reading. This is the room to spend time together as a family. It's a space to light candles, play board games and simply relax. There's also an MP3 docking station and radio for some background music. We played some scrabble, danced around to some Curtis Mayfield and watched passers-by enviously taking in our candle-lit cozy room.
Upstairs there are three bedrooms and the family bathroom. The master bedroom is enormous with a sumptuous king sized French bed, plenty of storage and a period fireplace. The room is decorated in a calming scheme of pale grey and blue and the carpet was so deep that all I wanted to do was walk around barefoot and revel in the warmth of it! The duvet is feather down, the pillows hypoallergenic and the entire room feels palatial. Each bedroom has a deep window seat where you can simply relax and watch the world go by.
Lucy fell head over heels with the single bedroom and it's sweet cream bed and pretty little wall lamp. With beautiful wood panneling in an off-white shade on all the walls, it also has a small wardrobe and a window seat to curl up in. She would have happily whiled away the hours in there reading her star gazing book. The second bedroom is a twin room and I shared this with the moody teen. The beds were extremely comfortable with feather down duvets, lots of pillows (which I love and I hate it when there is only one on each bed) and a pretty bedspread to pull up if it got chilly during the night. We both slept well and were never cold at all. Each guest is given a set of towels for the bathroom and they are colour co-ordinated with the room scheme. Our twin bedroom had a subtle purple theme running through and so our towels matched this. Shona and I both have those towels on our wishlist for our own homes as oh my word they were glorious - deep pile, the softest Egyptian cotton and a really lovely way to wrap yourself up when you came out of the shower. The huge family bathroom is also upstairs with his and hers sinks, a large bath and a walk-in shower. Lucy couldn't resist trying out the bath and loved it.
Downstairs there is a handy cloakroom toilet and plenty of space in the long hallway for coats and shoes. The kitchen/diner is enormous with views out to the pretty garden. The units are shaker style, painted a pale grey shade and marble worktops add a luxurious touch. It has everything you need for a family kitchen - a dishwasher, an American style fridge freezer, a microwave and a ceramic hob. There is plenty of crockery, glasses and if you have little ones, lots of family friendly cutlery, cups and plates. Best of all is the dining area, Banquette style and we found it was great sitting around in the morning chatting over breakfast. I loved the use of bold fabrics from Thornback and Peel to bring a touch of modern country style and a little whimsy to the room with matching cushions and blinds in their eye-catching Rabbit and Cabbage design.
Outside is a large well-kept garden with a bbq and a table to seat six. In the summer this will be amazing but as it was November and very chilly outside we didn't use it! There is also a small bistro style set next to the kitchen door to take your coffee outside in the morning sunshine. Off-road parking for two cars is available too.
The cottage is ideally placed for exploring Yorkshire. Dalby Forest is right on the doorstep for forest walking, cycling, Go Ape and of course, star gazing (there are lots of events at Dalby for the Dark Skies Festival in February 2018). The North York Moors coast is only a short drive away too, perfect for visiting Whitby, Runswick Bay, Staithes and Robin Hood's Bay (my personal favourites). It's close to the market towns of Pickering and the very beautiful town of Helmsley (where a visit to the Walled Garden and lunch in the Vine House Cafe is a must). Malton, Yorkshire's Food Capital is only twenty minutes away too. If you love walking then the Moors are beautiful to explore and the stunning Hole of Horcum is spectacular to see. Sutton Bank has astonishing views over the Hambleton Hills and the Vale of York. (You can follow the North York Moors National Park on Facebook to keep up with events and find other attractions). Alternatively walking around the village is a great way to spend the day with the added bonus of a pub lunch in the beer garden.
Gateways is perfect for families, with a high chair and travel cot available. Sadly pets are not allowed. It's a luxurious property yet has a lovely laid back feel. It's big on comfort, big on space and makes you feel completely at home. We absolutely loved it and never wanted to leave.