On arrival at The Private Hill, we’re met with absolute quiet and solitude. As the winding driveway opens out to a jaw-dropping vista across the Vale of York and beyond, five geodomes are revealed. Once inside our dome (Debussy), the appeal of these unusual structures becomes clear. With everything ‘in the round’, there is an immediate feeling of cosiness, helped along by a sizeable wood-burning stove, expansive views and an immersion in nature, with full protection from all weathers.
The owner, consummate host and creative brain behind The Private Hill is Roddy Hamilton, a former Jaguar Land Rover executive turned pedigree Aberdeen Angus breeder, who had the idea for the glamping site back in November 2018. On the beautiful Thrussendale Farm, just outside Malton, North Yorkshire – just a 40-minute drive from York – his cattle have now been replaced by the geodomes (four named after those Aberdeen Anguses), sheep, chickens, and three alpacas. ‘We will leave no stone unturned to exceed our guests’ expectations wherever, and whenever, we possibly can,’ says Hamilton.’ ‘That’s the foundation stone of The Private Hill, and one we will never let go of.’
And it’s clear to see this philosophy in action. Each dome, carefully spaced from its neighbour to offer complete privacy, houses its own bathroom and kitchenette; this is glamping redefined and pushed to its very limit. Despite the lack of bricks and mortar, a stay here feels akin to experiencing a five-star boutique hotel. Bathrooms are fully equipped with soft towels and White Company toiletries, and kitchens come complete with a Nespresso machine and fully stocked minibar. The sumptuously comfortable super-king-size bed and linens are enhanced with a Sonos sound system, WiFi and, crucially, no television. The polar insulation of the domes along with that wood-burning stove, kept fully supplied with logs, means there’s constant warmth.
As well as the four guest domes, you’ll find Jane’s Dome, The Private Hill’s café and restaurant named after Roddy’s better half. Homemade breakfast, cakes, sandwiches and snacks are served all day, including some of the best poached eggs we’ve ever had, delicious coffee and excellent locally-sourced jams and apple juice. In the evening, the restaurant serves a three-course candle-lit dinner, while enjoying panoramic sunset views that have to be seen to be believed.
Rather than adding more domes to the existing site, the ambition for this small but perfectly formed retreat is for further Private Hill sites in similarly secluded locations around the UK. ‘I have no intention to expand beyond the exclusive four guest domes that we offer here,’ says Hamilton, ‘but I would certainly like to see other Private Hill sites at select UK destinations, each run to the very high standards, and the same philosophy, that we have here in North Yorkshire.’
And if you can tear yourself away from ‘The Hill’, the nearby town of Malton (dubbed ‘the food capital of Yorkshire’) has no shortage of diversions. There’s an incredible monthly food market, the independent Brass Castle Brewery and Taphouse producing award-winning craft beers, as well as the Talbot Yard’s Rare Bird gin distillery and Roost coffee and roaster. Recently renovated, The Talbot, an old coaching inn, has a roaring fire and excellent brasserie fare, while the local pub The Bay Horse in nearby Burythorpe (just a five-minute scramble in Roddy’s 4×4), is as atmospheric an English country pub as you’re ever likely to find.
Back at the farm, as well as taking local walks and racing along mountain biking trails, stargazing, or just relaxing in your dome, there’s the opportunity to walk the three recently arrived alpacas, the dramatically named Perseus, Renoir and Ziggy, around the extensive property.
For a weekend escape that’s just a short train ride from London King’s Cross (free private parking on-site is also available), there’s nowhere better. In Hamilton’s words: ‘we all hope that when people leave The Private Hill, they’ve been wowed, and that they felt like VIPs while they were here’. There’s absolutely no doubt about that.
Domes from £150/night
The Private Hill, Thrussendale Farm, Thrussendale Road, Acklam, Nr. Malton North Yorkshire YO17 9RG