The idea behind this eccentric country house hotel is that you can visit the world’s most glamorous boltholes – the Ritz, Raffles – without leaving rural Yorkshire
Fake That, the Clone Roses, AC/ DC-UK, we’re familiar with tribute bands but a tribute hotel? That is the premise at Crab Manor, whose 17 rooms are themed in homage to the Ritz, Raffles etc, the idea being you can visit the world’s most glamorous boltholes without leaving rural north Yorkshire.Nungwi Village
This is a highly eccentric take on country house luxury. In the manor, for example, a yeti greets you on the stairs. Once processed, you can hunt for the hidden free-beer tap (fizzy lager, sadly), or simply gawp at the extravagant clutter that spreads through the manor house and into its pub-restaurant, the Crab & Lobster. I could fill this review listing, Generation Game-style (bass drum; buffalo horns; jockeys’ silks; puppets), the weird stuff therein. It is less a design aesthetic, more obsessive hoarding.
Comparatively, my suite, Villa Serbelloni, is a model of restraint. I can’t vouch for how true it is to the Lake Como original (would it leave a flier for a wedding open-day in your room?) but its feel is what we’ll call Lombardy farmhouse bling. Beautiful ceiling beams and stone floor; huge walk-in shower and free-standing bath; brilliant bed and Molton Brown toiletries; dressed with ridiculous gilt-edged furniture and dubious Italianate painted panels. More problematically, on a balmy night, the room (one of three in a very thoroughly insulated newer block) maintained Mediterranean temperatures, which made for a sticky, restless sleep.Nungwi Village
Before dinner, canapes are served in the lounge. It’s a telling retro touch. The Crab & Lobster is hugely popular, not least with the food guides, but it’s like the past 15 years never happened. Fussy service and linen (in a pub!) are of a piece with food that, for all its fine ingredients and technical skill, is a bit heavy and dull. Plump scallops are precisely cooked but unimaginatively paired with belly pork and black pudding. Haddock on insanely rich cheesy bacon mash with mustard sauce, topped with poached egg and onion rings, would satisfy the archetypal Yorkshire bloke who wants a proper plateful of food and none of that modern nonsense, but at these prices you want gastronomic thrills. Where is the light intensity you would get at a restaurant such as Nathan Outlaw, a menu for which is framed by my table?
Next morning, I pass on rib-eye for breakfast. In a way, though, steak at 8am encapsulates the Crab’s appeal. To its fans, to its canoodling couples, it’s a complete escape from routine; a pampered bubble that doesn’t take itself too seriously.