Once the olive oil and balsamic vinegar-soaked crusty bread touched my tongue I knew this stay was going to be an enjoyable one. Simple ingredients, but the quality of them spoke volumes.
My wife Karen and I had arrived earlier in the day on a crisp but sunny January afternoon in Harrogate to stay at the Hotel du Vin & Bistro, one of the chain's 19 hotels around the UK, from Edinburgh down to Brighton. Set in a magnificent Georgian building I half expected a young Oliver to suddenly appear at one of the upstairs windows singing 'Who Will Buy This Wonderful Morning... er, Afternoon'.
After checking in we were then taken to our accommodation by a smiling young receptionist. No numbers here - each of the rooms is named after a particular tipple, ours being Bollinger. I jokingly asked the young woman if a bottle of said champers would be waiting for us inside, to which she gave me a polite 'I haven't heard that before' smile.
A wonderfully spacious room containing a queen-sized leather sleigh bed awaited us. Being at the front of the building we had a splendid vista of the main highway into the town surrounded by green open space and for a split second I considered doing the Oliver thing. I didn't.
Also in the room was a large flatscreen TV with a multitude of channels, a kettle and tea-making facilities for the obligatory first cuppa of the morning, and a Nespresso machine with a selection of coffees.
A nice touch was a complimentary mini-bottle of fresh semi-skimmed in the mini bar rather than the ubiquitous UHT cartons you usually associate with hotel stays. Bottled water was also free for customers, the rest of the fridge’s contents subject to the usual minibar tariffs.
Our en-suite was just as impressive with a large shower head providing a satisfying showering experience, with natural oils-infused L'Occitane toiletries to add to the indulgence, as well as a fluffy bathrobe and slippers for each person.
A powerful hairdryer was included too so no need to pack one, and seasoned hotel users will be pleased to hear a Corby trouser press was there for the using.
The hotel is just a scone's throw from the famous Betty's tearooms and all the rest of Harrogate's wonderful shops, green spaces and architecture, so after an enjoyable and appetite-whetting walk around the town we returned and got ready for our evening meal.
The hotel has a wonderfully atmospheric bar area, enhanced even further with the Christmas decor, and an equally impressive restaurant with a choice of sitting on regular chairs or what I would describe as the stretch limo equivalent of Chesterfield sofas.
Following our magnificent bread appetiser (of which I shamelessly requested another batch) our starters arrived - for me the pan-roasted scallops with Scottish chanterelle mushrooms, pancetta and a sorrel puree, Karen the goat's cheese, pear and pecan salad with cranberry dressing.
My scallops were sweet and succulent and my wife declared her entree the best salad she had ever tasted. We were less exotic in our choice for the main course, both electing for a ribeye steak with the usual trimmings, but were nevertheless just as satisfied.
We both went for the same dessert, plumping for the delicious and generous crème brûlée. During our experience were were looked after wine-wise by sommelier David, who advised and arranged a delicious and appropriate glass to accompany each course.
After a good night's sleep in the massive bed, breakfast was served in the restaurant and was a tour de force in itself, with freshly squeezed juices, a delicious full English - with plenty of other choices like eggs benedict available if you prefer - and fresh coffee or tea.
This is a review after all so I if I had to pick out something that could be improved it would be that the room corridors are a little dated and could do with refreshing in my opinion.
Other than that, this was a very pleasurable stay and a hotel I would heartily recommend and one I would be more than happy to revisit.
With bed and breakfast stays per couple from just £74, visit www.hotelduvin.com