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Devonshire Hotel

"Luxury with minimum sacrifice to the environment" is the ethos of the Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel at Bolton Abbey. It appears discreetly on guests' literature and is shorthand for a philosophy that staff identify with and buy into.

Originally an eighteenth century coaching inn, the Devonshire Arms' credentials as a luxurious establishment are plain to see. A four star hotel with two restaurants (one with four AA rosettes) that reflect guests' experience of fine dining, it also has first class conference facilities and, across the road, a "health barn" with a swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi, fitness suites and three treatment rooms, with three more to be added in 2014.

Its credentials as a sustainable business are equally impressive, though they are not all necessarily obvious to guests. They may see the certificate for the hotel's Green Tourism Silver Award, won in 2010, but much else happens behind the scenes.

The one acre kitchen garden, for instance, supplies about a quarter of the hotel's fruit and vegetables – typically leeks, cabbages, potatoes, broadbeans, courgettes, beetroot, artichokes, onions (three varieties), tomatoes (ten varieties) as well as apples and plums.

Hidden secret of success

A little visited corner at the far end of the garden reveals one of the secrets for its success in raising productivity. It is a beehive, introduced in 2012, that at times attracts up to 60,000 bees.

It was the idea of Eddie Styles, Head Concierge, a largely self-taught beekeeper who calls the bees "his girls" and his hobby "the new rock and roll in my world." Eddie, a former captain in the Staffordshire Regiment, now marches to a new tune of eco-enthusiasm.

"The bees have been brilliant at pollinating our fruit and vegetables, raising the yield significantly," says Eddie who has become something of a cheerleader for environmental awareness at the hotel.

He had the idea to form an environmental team of six staff representatives not just from the Devonshire Arms but from the nearby Cavendish Pavilion and also the Fell Hotel at Burnsall. Eddie chairs the group, which reflects the enthusiasm for protecting the environment felt not just by the Duke of Devonshire, who chairs the board that runs the hotel, but also by his son, Lord Burlington.

Among the initiatives championed by Eddie's team are recycling waste vegetable oil from the kitchen into a form of bio diesel that is used in the hotel's maintenance vehicle. The rest of the oil is sold to Bio Fuels for recycling, the funds raised being handed over to the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.

The Trust raises money to replant broadleaf trees and received around £4,600 from the hotel in 2011 when it was the Duchess of Devonshire's charity of the year.

Paper is from sustainable sources, pencils made from recycled plastic and eco-friendly powders are used to wash towels and other laundry.

Top priority

Recycling waste is a top priority. Eddie gives all new starters an induction course in 'being green' and particularly in minimising kitchen waste that goes to landfill. There are bins for plastic, glass, cardboard etc that all go for recycling, and one for food waste that goes to an aerobic digester in Hull that burns food to create power.

"I make the point to all the new starters that it costs the hotel £9.50 to have a waste bin taken to a landfill site but only £4 for a recycling bin."

Such examples get home Eddie's message that minimising impact on the environment also makes economic sense in a luxury hotel as much as anywhere else.Contact the Devonshire Arms on 01756 710441 or visit

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