There are times when the Yorkshire Pudd team are out and about on our travels and feel we simply MUST bring back our readers genuine and spontaneous recommendations when appropriate. It’s the thing that makes us special! So when Claire Smith and her husband booked in for a night at The White Swan Inn in Pickering, North Yorkshire on New Year’s Eve, she was so impressed she had to spread the word.

Firstly, may I apologies for how long this review has taken me to write. I mean, where did January go?! Anyway, I am glad to say after a few dismal New Year’s Eve celebrations, this year we saw 2014 in in style.

Our last minute decision to enjoy a hotel break for the occasion saw us stumble upon The White Swan Inn in Pickering. Perfect, we thought. Not too far to drive and it looked like just the right place to nestle away for the evening.

We were right. We were greeted with a very warm and laid back welcome that made us feel right at home. Our room was one of the Hideaway rooms in the converted stables and were just the right amounts of luxury and comfort (including underfloor heated stone floors, sumptuous bed and the best shower in the world). All style, but all substance too.

Sometimes when you go to a hotel and it’s dreich outside you can feel a little bit… ‘now what?’ That’s where the The Bothy comes in handy. The cosy converted beamed barn near our rooms was such a wonderful touch that all I could talk about was how I wanted one one day (if I end up a millionaire with outbuildings, of course). With the log burning stove, comfy sofas, magazines, complimentary tea, coffee and cakes, it was the biggest treat of all. Well, that is until the champagne came.

After a relaxing afternoon we got into our glad rags, and, before the pièce de résistance – the seven course dinner in the restaurant – we were invited to a champagne reception with canapés in The Bothy. Talk about being looked after. There was no shortage of refills and the atmosphere was warm and relaxed with other guests chatting and mingling. Then came the food, which went a little something like this:

Smoked duck, walnut and Yorkshire blue cheese salad; Pickering watercress soup; potted North Sea shrimps and spelt toast, roast rump on Tim Wilson’s moorland lamb, fondant potatoes, clapshot, caper and mint sauce; rich chocolate cake, clotted cream and boozy cherries; Yorkshire cheese and biscuits with grape chutney; coffee and homemade chocolates to finish.

It was out of this world, and well worth returning for. I loved that head chef Darren Clemmit kept things local and it is clear The White Swan Inn sticks to its mantra of simple goodness from fresh ingredients, properly cooked, and keeping food miles to a minimum. As they say, Yorkshire is the pantry of England!

As well as the divine food, which more than deserves its long-standing AA rosette accreditation, hats off must go to the staff here. They are attentive, friendly, calm and are the people who set the tone of the place. From the reception to The Bothy to the restaurant, everyone was open and gracious and couldn’t do enough for us.

What makes The White Swan Inn really special is that it has first class standards in every category, but goes about its business in a low-key, unpretentious and simple way. Just what you need for a few nights away. Total luxury, charm, good food and wine, and a fantastic relaxed atmosphere.