If you’re wondering what to put under the tree this Christmas, giving an experience rather than a physical present is a great way to reduce waste while leaving that special someone with a new skill or cherished memories that will last a lifetime. From cookery classes and spa days to an afternoon at the ballet, here are some of the best Yorkshire-based experiences to gift this year.
Surprise them with an afternoon at the Ballet
A treasured winter tradition for many, a trip to the ballet is a magical way to spend a day when it’s getting cold and dark outside. This year, Northern Ballet will be performing The Nutcracker at Leeds Grand Theatre between 29 November-10 December. The company’s graceful dancers will bring the Christmas classic to life with choreography by David Nixon CBE and Tchaikovsky’s score played live by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia. You’ll witness the famous Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy as you follow Clara into an enchanted world with twirling snowflakes and a terrifying mouse king. Tickets start at £20 and would make a great pre-Christmas treat. Alternatively, if you’d rather surprise someone with tickets under the tree, the Northern Ballet will be returning to Leeds next June with a performance of Beauty and the Beast.
Give a gift that keeps on giving with a cookery class at The Grand
If you’re searching for a present that will really last a lifetime, a cookery class could be just the thing. The Cookery School at The Grand hotel in York offers express, half and full-day courses that are suitable for everyone from complete beginners to aspiring chefs. It’s no surprise that the school ranks number one among York’s courses and workshops on Tripadvisor – classes here make for an enjoyable day out as you meet like-minded people and try your hand at a range of new culinary techniques under the expert guidance of the chef tutors. At the end of most classes, you’ll be able to sit down and tuck into what you’ve made. You’ll also leave with the knowledge of how to recreate the dishes at home, so you can enjoy them time and time again. Express classes include learning how to make various curries, cooking with steak and creating the perfect seafood pasta, while on a full day course you can try artisan bread making or opt for a masterclass in a range of different world cuisines. The school even offers parent and child classes, which are a great way to get youngsters involved in the kitchen. Gift vouchers can be purchased from The Cookery School’s website and these can be printed and posted to you in a gift box for a small extra cost.
Help them to unwind with a soothing spa day at Grantley Hall
If someone you know could do with a little ‘me’ time this Christmas, why not give them the gift of a spa day? Grantley Hall is a luxury 5-star hotel with its own Three Graces Spa, which is fully equipped with hydrotherapy pools, a sauna, steam room and snow room. A twilight spa experience here starts at £165 and features a welcome drink followed by a Natura Bisse face and body ritual and full use of the spa facilities until 7:45 PM. Alternatively, if you’d like to give an even bigger gift, you can buy a voucher for a midweek stay for two from £650. This includes a night in one of the hotel’s elegant rooms with access to the spa and ELITE Luxury Gym and a delicious breakfast to wake up to. Grantley Hall also offers a unique Motorsport Simulation Experience that’s perfect for petrolheads, along with gift vouchers that allow the recipient to tuck into tasting menus at two of its award-winning restaurants: the Michelin-starred Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall or Pan-Asian EightyEight.
Leave an afternoon tea under the tree
An indulgent afternoon tea is always something to look forward to, so why not give this quintessential British treat as a gift? The Pheasant hotel, which can be found in the pretty village of Harome, provides a delightful country setting with an outdoor terrace and gardens that overlook the duck pond on the River Riccal. This four-star hotel was once the village shop and blacksmith’s and is now the perfect rural retreat with bedrooms and dog-friendly family cottages to stay in, plus an indoor swimming pool for residents. The Pheasant’s restaurant has been awarded 2 AA rosettes and serves an excellent Sunday roast as well as a lunch and dinner tasting menu. Afternoon teas here are presented on a traditional three tier stand and feature a selection of sandwiches with scrumptious fillings like cucumber and dill crème fraiche, smoked salmon and horseradish or salami and apple puree on a brioche bun. These can be followed by plain and golden sultana scones with jam and clotted cream and a selection of dainty cakes. Each afternoon tea comes with a refreshing pot of Birchalls tea or coffee from Roost of Malton. Prices start at £27 per person and gift vouchers can be purchased from The Pheasant’s website.
Treat them to a meal to remember at Mýse
Situated in the village of Hovingham in North Yorkshire’s beautiful Howardian Hills, Mýse (pronounced ‘Meez’) is a new fine dining restaurant run by former Cochon Aveugle chef Josh Overington and his wife Victoria. The restaurant ‘celebrates the ancient North Yorkshire terroir’ with a menu that champions local and small-scale producers. Meat is dry-aged and cured in-house and Josh incorporates seasonal and foraged ingredients into his food, which draws influence from traditional Yorkshire cooking. Each dish arrives at the table looking like a piece of art and a similar amount of attention has been given to the restaurant’s interior. The old 19th century pub in which Mýse resides has been sympathetically renovated and charming small details have been added, like the bespoke tableware that is inspired by sommelier Victoria’s family home on the Jurassic Coast. There are even cosy en-suite bedrooms for those who want to stay the night. Mýse‘s tasting menu starts at £95pp for lunch or £125pp for dinner. This includes up to fifteen plates with courses like summer field biscuit with salted bramble, hand dived Orkney scallop in sea urchin butter, and roasted Thirkleby duck with chewy beetroot and black walnut. A fully vegetarian menu is also available and gift vouchers can be ordered online.
Spoil them with an overnight stay at the Devonshire Arms
If you’d like to give the gift of a night away, The Devonshire Arms on the historic Bolton Abbey estate offers packages to suit various budgets. This spa hotel sits in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, a short drive from the bustling market town of Skipton. The Devonshire’s bedrooms are individually styled with contemporary decor and range from classic doubles with a garden view to lavish suites. Guests can dine at the Devonshire’s relaxed brasserie or in the Burlington Restaurant, where they can sample seasonal dishes created using home-grown fruit and vegetables from the hotel’s kitchen garden and other produce from the estate. You could delight a special couple with a voucher for dinner, bed and breakfast from £357.00. The Devonshire Arms also offers a three night ‘Twixmas’ stay in the days between Christmas and New Year. This starts at £606.50pp and includes their choice of room or suite with a full Yorkshire breakfast every morning and a generous nightly allowance towards dinner in the brasserie. They’ll also receive a bottle of prosecco in their room to celebrate with.
Give them a chance to try Tattu’s Moon Stand
Contemporary Chinese restaurant Tattu has five branches across the UK, including one on Leeds’ East Parade. Tattu’s menu successfully fuses traditional flavours with modern cooking methods, but what really sets it apart is the attention given to aesthetics. The presentation of the food here is flawless and the decor is opulent and mysterious with mirrored walls, walnut tabletops and hanging blossoms that are white rather than the usual pink to honour the Yorkshire rose. For a unique lunch, the restaurant offers a ‘Moon Stand’. This costs £28pp and features three dishes of your choice served on a feng shui-inspired display. Among the dishes to choose from are seven spiced seared tuna accompanied by truffle aioli, caviar and citrus ponzu, wild mushroom spring rolls and wok-fired ‘angry bird’ chicken with roasted chilli peppers and sesame honey soy. Alternatively, there are tasting menus including one for vegetarians or you can dine a la carte. You can buy gift vouchers on Tattu’s website with values ranging from £25 to any amount you wish.
Images- @devarmsboltonabbey, @cookeryschoolgrand