Set in its own grounds on 26 odd acres, Middlethorpe is a beautiful William & Mary seventeenth-century house in warm red brick. It's owned by the small but excellent Historic House Hotels and has added a spa with swimming pool to its attractions. Public rooms are gracious; bedrooms are elegant. All are decorated with good antiques and have original moulded ceilings and plenty of wood panelling. Once belonging to the writer Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, whose portrait hangs in the stairwell, it makes an excellent base for exploring York (it's a mile and a half south of the city), as well as some glorious surrounding countryside. Treat yourself at the restaurant for lunch or dinner.