When I told my 80-something parents I was to stay at the Black Horse Inn at Kirkby Fleetham, they told me that once went to have a look, with a view to buying it.

It was the mid-1960s then, before I was born, and the village pub was on the market for just £8,000.

They didn’t buy it in the end as it was too far away from family in West Yorkshire.

But maybe they should have, as I’m told the venue is now worth over £2.5million.

Of course, the Black Horse has undergone many changes since then, including a large restaurant extension, which was built decades ago.


More recently, following its take-over by Harrogate-based HRH group, the pub also took over a neighbouring cottage, increasing the room numbers from 7 to 14.

Over the past dozen or so years, the company has transformed a once tired village pub said to be ‘failing’ into a thriving part of the community that has become a destination in its own right.

There is its AA Rosette restaurant and talented chefs who prepare a top-quality, freshly made a-la-carte menu every day, which is so clearly worth the drive.

Not to mention the en-suite rooms, rustic and traditional, with a certain quirkiness about them adding interest and delight.

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Indeed, the AA rates the Black Horse as a 5-star Inn for 2024, also awarding it an AA Rosette for its ‘culinary excellence’ for this year.

TripAdvisor awards 4.5 stars, with 835 out of 1094 reviews giving excellent and 156 saying very good.

Booking.Com rates it as 9.0, commenting ‘superb.’

Founded in 2011, the HRH Group owns other pubs and hotels including the Guy Fawkes Inn in York, which is soon to double in size, The Clementines Townhouse Hotel, and the Fat Badger Inns in York and Harrogate, with plans for a third Fat Badger in Whitby.

In Harrogate, HRH Group also owns The Pickled Sprout, the Yorkshire Hotel and the White Hart Hotel.

Built more than 200 years ago, the Black Horse Inn nestles in the scenic village Kirby Fleetham in the Hambleton District of North Yorkshire, between the Dales and the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.

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It is just a short drive from the A1 motorway and when I called last Friday afternoon, there was a gorgeous, blazing log fire warming the place up. The welcome from the friendly staff was just as warm too.

I was shown my bedroom in the cottage next door.

The rooms are named after racehorses, such as Grand National winners like Najinsky. I was in the Tiger Roll suite, named after an Irish thoroughbred, which won Aintree’s most famous race in 2018 and 2019.

My room was certainly a champion in my book, featuring a large bed on top of which were a mountain of pillows and cushions.

It had a cottagey, rustic charm, with paintings of hares and a large characterful mirror.

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The toilet and shower could have been bigger, but you are not in there for long. Of course, it was spotlessly clean with the fluffiest of white towels.

There were delightful touches such as tea and coffee and a couple of Curlywurly’s to enjoy, should you wish.

By the bed was a USB charger and in the bathroom was a small tin containing ‘women’s things’ should it be that time of the month.

The small table was just large enough to accommodate my laptop, the wi-fi worked beautifully, the seat was comfortable with a cushion on it and I was able to get several hours of work done before calling it a day at 6pm.

I then went to the bar, but alas the fire had died down as a glass plate had fallen out. Normally, there is a log fire blazing, I was told afterwards.

But the place was still warm, had atmosphere and character and was filling up well for the Friday evening.

A pint of IPA from the Dark Horse brewery at Hetton was well-kept and went down great, before I headed off to the restaurant, where I enjoyed a bottle of smooth and flavoursome Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina.

The staff were friendly, efficient, and prompt, and seemed to be enjoying themselves. There was plenty of them too, ensuring great, casual service.

My starter was honey glazed ribs, which were soft, tender and most lovely and delightful.

Mains was a decent chunk of cod loin, with a generous garden salad. The crushed new potatoes with spring onion were especially tasty and good.

To finish, were a selection of tasty crackers and cheeses, with frozen grapes. Just let them defrost a while and the intense flavour of the grape will then pour out.

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After such a hearty meal, it did not take long to nod off in the most comfortable bed.

After a good sleep it was up for breakfast, where I enjoyed a croissant with Wilkins marmalade and a Full Yorkshire breakfast. The bacon was tasty and the plate mushroom seemed particularly sweet, fried in rapeseed oil and mixed with salt and pepper.

Washed down with coffee and plenty of orange juice, I was certainly set up well for the day.

Other breakfast options are, of course, available.

Well, it was time to go, and on checking out, I passed the outdoor covered and heated seating area towards the large car park.

I’m told the Black Horse has bought land at the back with an eye to expansion.

It will be interesting to see what they deliver.

Based on what I experienced last weekend, it is sure to be excellent!