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Staycation: The Alice Hawthorn, Nun Monkton

by Abigail Spooner
Staycation: The Alice Hawthorn, Nun Monkton
The Alice Hawthorn
This renovated 18th-century inn is steeped in history and gets its name from a champion racehorse of the Victorian era. Abigail Spooner and her mum take a trip to rural Yorkshire to soak up some peace and quiet with a gastronomic escape

Where is it?

In the enchanting village of Nun Monkton (halfway between York and Harrogate), which lies remotely at the end of a long country lane. Quintessentially English with its serene duck pond on the sprawling village green, phone box library and free roaming cows, it feels like the scene from a Jane Austen novel.


What’s the accommodation like?

Our recently renovated room above the pub is tastefully decorated with an inviting armchair in the corner, which I sink into whilst munching on the homemade oaty biscuits that have been left for us. The neutral colour palette is anything but twee and lends an instantly calming effect after a long drive. A large bathtub stands proud in the centre of the bathroom, with the option of a luxurious walk-in rainfall shower too.

What did you eat and drink?

We begin the evening in style with a tart rhubarb Bellini while we browse the seasonal food menu; it has a strong Yorkshire influence peppered with modern touches. Succulent scallops arrive baked in their shells and bathed in an oozing Gruyère and cheddar sauce with a crisp gratinated top. As I lift my fork from the pool of cheese, it stretches out in front of me in the most tempting and delicious way. I mop up every morsel with hunks of bread, scraping the shells with greed. Mum enjoys a starter of tempura-battered ‘popcorn prawns’, dunking them one by one into a flavoursome sweet chilli and wasabi mayo.


It isn’t often that guinea fowl graces restaurant menus, so I always order it when I can. Here it’s pan-roasted to perfection with earthy morel mushrooms and doesn’t disappoint. The fondant potato is golden and buttery, while baby leeks and a minted pea purée add freshness. Mum tucks into Yorkshire Dales lamb, and I make sure I steal a taster of the mouth-watering crispy braised belly from her plate.

For dessert, we decide to share a strawberry Eton mess with fragrant basil sorbet and a cinnamon-infused crema catalana, which has just the right amount of custardy wobble and is pierced with crisp almond shards.

Abigail Spooner
Abigail Spooner

What is there to do?

Head to the quaint Victorian town of Harrogate for a stroll around the historic streets and botanical gardens. No visit would be complete without a tea break at Bettys tea rooms. Don’t miss the Fat Rascals, which are an iconic Yorkshire treat: a cross between a rock cake and a scone. 
For an alternative historic day out, Bolton Abbey is well worth the hour’s drive to the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. There are multiple family-friendly walking trails, including the ruins of the 12th-century monastery, the river Wharfe, Strid Wood and Barden Fell.

Lasting memory

The oh-so indulgent scallop starter.


Sainsbury’s magazine insider tip

Choose one of the garden rooms if you prefer a contemporary, design-led feel, or one of the four pub rooms for classical Grade II-listed charm.

How to book

Rooms at The Alice Hawthorn start from £120 per night for pub rooms and £140 per night for garden rooms, including breakfast. For more information, visit

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