APRIL Fool's Day - a day of jokes and hoaxes - and also the day my husband Simon and I went on our very first date.

Fast forward 25 years and we were lucky to celebrate our "silver" anniversary at the picturesque Black Swan in Helmsley.

Set at the head of the Market Place, the hotel enjoys a commanding position over looking the square with its striking mix of period buildings.

The hotel comprises three houses - the black and white house on the left of the terrace, the Georgian house in the middle, and the Elizabethan building on the right, which stands on the site where an inn is believed to have been situated for many centuries.

While the character of the hotel has been thoughtfully conserved, it also has all the finishing touches of a four-star boutique hotel.

Following a recent refurbishment, The Black Swan has aimed to combine country chic with contemporary design throughout its 45 bedrooms, lounges, restaurant and tearoom, as well as the Cygnet Bar.

Homely touches include local artwork and your very own 'Huggie' the bear on each bed, which you have the option to buy and take home.

Our room looked over the beautifully manicured gardens - perfect for weddings for which the hotel is also a popular venue - or just for a drink on a summer's day.

Unfortunately on our visit it was a day of April showers, so after a drink in the cosy bar we were taken through to The Gallery Restaurant which aims to offers a wide selection of exciting menus using the best of Yorkshire ingredients.

There is a six-course tasting menu which is ideal for those who can't decide which dish to choose as well as an a la carte with vegetarian options.

Starters include torched salmon, sheep’s milk and thyme ricotta, and ham knuckle and foie gras, followed by a selection of main courses from lamb with brassicas, cockles, onions and potato terrine to king oyster mushroom and cep parfait cigar with parsley and garlic purée.

Desserts include the divine bitter chocolate namelaka with spiced espresso cake and milk sorbet, as well as the biggest cheese trolley I think we have ever seen.

New chef Alan’O'Kane has recently joined the Black Swan team whose early career years were spent in London, initially at The Savoy, and later at The Capital, where his classical culinary skills were honed.

Alan’s style of cooking and professional experience complements the Black Swan’s 3AA rosette restaurant, as he has achieved this same standard of excellence at Wynyard Hall and Gilpin Lodge. Other accolades include Michelin’s Bib gourmand at several establishments, Small North East Hotel of the Year (La Route Guide) and voted Top Coastal Restaurant in The Times and The Observer two years running at Sidney’s.

Staff were friendly and helpful and we left the following morning with a complimentary travellers pack - and of course Huggie the bear to add to the collection at home. Well how could we leave him?

It was a very different date to our first one - and a perfect venue for a special occasion or celebration.