Review: Staying The Night At Britain’s ‘Original Gastropub’, The Angel At Hetton

By Tessa Dunthorne

9 months ago

The perfect post-dinner hike to bed – less than five minutes long, in a luxury hotel


The Angel at Hetton is ‘the original gastropub’ with a rich history taking it back to Tudor times, where it would host weary travellers on their long journeys across the country. Fast forward a few centuries, though, and it’s reinventing the word, with its Michelin-starred tasting menu elevating pub grub just a touch. Oh, and it’s also a cracking hotel, says Tessa Dunthorne as she reviews – you’ll definitely want to make a pilgrim’s hike to this one. 

Review: The Angel At Hetton

The Angel at Hetton

We arrive at the Angel at Hetton in a sort of daze. Sheets of rain had been assaulting the windshield without pause across the entire drive from Ripon to Hetton, meaning we’d been blindly subject to the whims of a smug-sounding sat-nav for an hour. Yorkshire’s rolling hills had been all but blighted by the weather from view of the car, and it had become hard to pinpoint exactly where in the Dales we were (or where we might be headed). So, as we arrived, heralded by our tinny digital overlord and tumbling out of the sweaty car onto the village’s pavements, the Angel was mirage-like. And yet those yorkstone walls were a very solid – and very real – sanctuary from the drowned outdoors. 

The Angel at Hetton is a family run establishment, managed by husband-and-wife duo Michael and Johanna Wignall. It’s made up of 20 bedrooms and seven suites in neighbouring Fell View Barn and Sycamore Bank, which sit opposite the main inn. A recent refurb modernised several bedrooms, the restaurant and bar – transforming it from quintessential rural pub to a chic bolthole that could sit as comfortably in Scandinavia as it does Yorkshire. The interiors are strikingly European, from the bar (the stools at the counter feel like they’ve been plucked straight from the pages of a Danish fashion mag) to the bedrooms (many of these are open-planned, meaning a level of requisite frankness with any bedmates regarding the toilet). But it’s beautiful – still sympathetic to history and location, all exposed beams and muted grey stoney tones a la nearby quarries. 

The Angel at Hetton

Little Danish bolthole, or Yorkshire hotel?

Interiors aside, the main draw of staying at the Angel Inn is really its twinkling Michelin star. First achieved in 2019, as Michael and Johanna gradually phased out pub grub in favour of decadent dining, it has held tightly to this decoration for the four years since. And a deserved accolade it is: the restaurant’s eight-course tasting menu is worth the travel, whether you’re coming from Ripon or the absolute bowels of this country. 

It has to be said: from the arrival of the snacks, you’re set up for a journey which holds no massive surprises – the menu isn’t anything unexpected, made up of British-Japanese fusion cuisine that employs great produce from Yorkshire with foods of more global provenance. It’s not going to fool your taste buds through smoke and mirrors, nor present foams and molecules and gimmick. To the contrary, it’s going to present you with good food exceptionally well done, and there’s real joy to the fact that the menu doesn’t feel the need to be novel. What makes it feels unusual and distinct is perhaps its confidence to simply excel on its own merit (and with the added help of quality local suppliers). And the food is nothing short of brilliant. 

The Angel at Hetton

The Wagyu beef is astonishing

The international is still done in an exciting way. Chef-owner Michael Wignall plays Japanese ingredients against British produce in a way that feels like it sort of just makes sense, aiming for harmony over dissonance. The big hitter main course, the Wagyu beef, is an astonishing example of this – A5 Hyogo Wagyu melts in your mouth with its companions sweetbreads, périgord truffle, confit yoke and maitake. Some local, some global, these components work well separately but together sing. The bread course, which introduces us to hokkaido milk bread, is paired up with ampersand butter (which uses Jersey, Holstein and Guernsey cows), as another subtle international play. It’s then matched with pear sparkling wine by the sommelier, which almost takes you aback until you try the combination and – suddenly – it’s a question of ‘why weren’t we always doing this?’ 

Angel at Hetton bedroom

Retreat upstairs to your bed

The particularly handy thing about the Angel Inn being a double-threat restaurant with rooms is that the post-dinner hike to bed is under five minutes long. Within moments of finishing your digestif or decaf coffee, you can be sinking into a supremely comfortable bed with the lights set to ‘relax’ mode. And as soon as your eyes sink shut, you’re waking up to the sounds of cows braying, the promise of a day of muddy boot walks, a fresh coffee accompanied by (excitingly) a breakfast tasting menu, and the charm of a tiny Yorkshire village ripe for exploration. Dreamy. 

Final Word

A must visit for the Michelin starred-food, the proximity to lovely loops of pretty Yorkshire landscape, and the charm of a small hotel fitted up with a modern, almost Scandi look. 

Book

Double room at The Angel at Hetton from £460, including an eight-course tasting menu in the Michelin starred restaurant. Visit angelhetton.co.uk or call 01756 730 263.