In the bleak midwinter, it certainly helps to stay at a pub or hotel with a roaring fire and the best rooms if you don’t feel like going out.

Thankfully, the Golden Lion at Settle glistens here, also helped by good food, lovely staff and the best range of beers in town.

I was the guest of Thwaites last weekend, to celebrate its Christmas menu, which includes a festive high tea.

Sadly, though, the weather was abysmal, so it was a good thing I was in such a delightful 17th Century coaching inn.


Its central location however, meant it has no on-site parking, but there is a car park a short walk away and it was only £2.30 for the night.

Check-in was fast and efficient and the Character Room was large and spacious.

It featured an extremely comfortable king-sized bed, spotlessly clean white sheets, and many cushions and pillows.

York Press: The turkey dinner contained a mountain of meat

There was a settee too and a window with a view of the high street. The toilet and shower room was perhaps a little small but also spotlessly clean. The wifi worked beautifully.

Downstairs, the Golden Lion was doing a roaring trade that wet Saturday afternoon, and I decided to explore.

Settle has a variety of shops, cafes, and pubs and I bought some lovely Christmas cards from the newsagents. I had a milk stout in the Talbot Arms and a nice IPA in the Bar 13 micropub, which was thriving.

But as a I soon discovered, the best range of beers was in The Golden Lion, with six draught beers, including local Settle beers. There were also keg beers, ciders, spirits, etc.

No wonder the hotel was buzzing also, helped by a most glowing and warm, log fire, giving a fine welcome on a cold, wet, December night.

York Press: A hearty full English breakfast

Soon it was time for dinner and into a busy restaurant area of people enjoying themselves. All age groups were present, young and old.

The regular menu was available, including it’s the Golden Lion’s famous Settle pudding, made from suet, steak, vegetables and Thwaites Ale.

I chose from the Christmas menu, starting with the smoked salmon and horseradish roulade served on a potato, dill and caper salad. That was certainly a tasty and tangy starter, which complemented the bottle of Spanish white I had ordered.

Next came the mains of traditional roast turkey. There weren’t that many vegetables, a few sprouts, some savoy but they were only lightly cooked so were crisp and full of flavour. It seemed odd to see no carrots, but I was told I could have some. And rather than roast potatoes, they were mashed, very smoothly and lovely.

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There was a mountain of meat though, both white breast meat from the crown and some brown from the leg. The meat was tender and tasty, served with pigs in blankets and homemade gravy.

For pudding, I settled for the cheese board with three different cheeses, sticks of celery, grapes and 3-4 different types of crackers/biscuits and a small tub of chutney. That was a delightful way to finish a most enjoyable meal.

Soon it was bedtime and it wasn’t long before I fell asleep after such epicurean indulgence.

I slept well and after a warm shower it was down for breakfast, which featured croissant and marmalade and a generous full English, with tasty sausage and bacon, scrambled eggs, mushroom and beans. You can have black pudding, if you want it.

There was even a special visitor, Father Christmas had turned up for an event with local school children. He also enjoyed the warm fire that was already blazing.

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I then went out and sampled the delights of Booths, buying a few festive treats in the supermarket, rightfully known as the ‘Waitrose of the North’. Its all top quality and still good value if you chose the specials. There’s one at Ripon too!

Now, I had been recommended a visit to the Courtyard Dairy, an award-winning shop just north of Settle on the A65 towards Kendal.

It featured a small store area with vending machines selling cheeses, ice creams, milk and other foods.

The main shop is most interesting with a massive display of cheeses you can sample.

And so I did, buying a blue cheese from near Leeds, a cheddar and flavoursome Red Leicester. There are foreign cheeses too and if you cannot make it to the shop, you can buy online.

Now, wine goes with cheese and outside was a wine shop, so I bought a sherry I had not seen before and some tonic water made in the Lake District.

I then stopped off at the Craven Arms and enjoyed a pint of Appletreewick cider, read the pub’s Sunday Telegraph for a while, before returning to the Golden Lion for the Festive Tea.

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Rather than a traditional high tea, the Festive Tea featured a welcoming parsnip soup, tasty fish goujons and chips, a turkey sandwich, scone and cream, macaroon, treacle tart and mince pie.

Having had turkey the night before, perhaps a more traditional high tea would have been better. My preference I admit, it was still lovely.

Then, I bid farewell to the friendly and efficient staff, happy with an enjoyable weekend. True, the weather put a dampener on things, as it will at this time of the year.

So, if you are going anywhere this winter, choose a hotel with great rooms, great food, service, staff and interiors. Choose the Golden Lion or any of its sisters and you can’t go wrong!