With Roman roots and a Viking past, plus a smorgasbord of award-winning restaurants and vibrant independent shops, a weekend break in York won’t disappoint.
Meander along the city’s enchanting cobbled streets, with delicious scents from its many gastronomic gems luring you around every corner. After feasting your way around the city, head straight to to your hotel suite for a pre-bed bubble bath and a decompress. From your room you might even be able to peep at York Minster, one of the UK’s most magnificent cathedrals.
The Packing Edit
As well as its luxurious rooms and suites, The Grand is home to The Grand Studio Apartment, offering a home from home experience with the service and amenities of a five-star hotel, including a concierge service. Downstairs, The Rise brasserie serves a modern British menu from locally sourced ingredients and the intimate 1906 Bar, reminiscent of a vintage train carriage in feel, boasts an extensive menu along with some of Yorkshire’s finest ales. What’s more, a state of the art cookery school on site offers up a plethora of courses, from novices to aspiring chefs, whether you’re looking to master South Asian cuisine or perfect your pastry.
A new addition to the city, this boutique property – located in a former insurance building – stays true to the Malmaison aesthetic with great beds, mood lighting, and retro-kitsch décor. Sora, the seventh-floor rooftop bar serving up sushi, Robatayaki, and pan-Asian style tapas dishes, is a buzzing evening location thanks to its resident DJs. Meanwhile, an on-site ESPA spa affords the perfect remedy for the morning after the night before.
With a hotel on the same site for nearly 150 years, The Principal is the Grand Dame of the city, with views of the historic York Minster and Roman city walls. After a refurbishment from award-winning interior architects Goddard Littlefair, the downstair lounge lures you in for post-prandial cocktails, while the majestic sweeping staircase leads the way to 155 rooms and suites boasting listed interior details and roll-top baths that you may not want to leave. Visit in summer and you’ll likely find a buzzing pop-up garden bar on its lawns.
EAT + DRINK
Voted No.18 in this year’s National Restaurant Awards, Skosh offers contemporary British cooking with an international influence. This cosy dining room might be small, but it’s perfectly formed, with inventive dishes on its menu including chargrilled Galician octopus with pear and black bean, salt-baked celeriac glazed in teriyaki, turnip, and basil, and lobster and ginger dumplings. Plan well ahead – it’s only open Wednesday – Saturday and tables get snapped up fast.
Le Cochon Aveugle
Meaning ‘The Blind Pig’ in French, Le Cochon Aveugle serves one menu, served blind, dinner-party style. The eatery invites patrons to fully immerse themselves in the experience and trust the culinary skills and instinct of chef/owner Josh Overington. Inspired by traditional French cooking techniques, learnt during Overington’s time working in Paris, it’s a guaranteed feast. On the same site, its sister wine bar Le Cave de Cochon offers a more casual setting for pizzas, cheese, and charcuterie, alongside a superb selection of wines available by the glass, carafe, or bottle, including daily changing ‘Last Chance Wines’; a special, rarer collection of wines by the glass.
A forward-thinking, sustainable fish and game restaurant, Fish&Forest prides itself on sourcing the best ingredients with accountability. The bistro, helmed by chef-owner Stephen Andrews, offers a dynamic, seasonally driven yet unpretentious menu, bringing the quality of fine dining with a relaxed attitude. Fish is wild, native, ethically farmed, and sustainably caught on day boats. Game is wild and sourced from local and regional estates with less intense and smaller shoots, helping maintain the delicate balance in population control. The small menu of five starters and five mains is constantly changing, making it all the more enticing.
It practically a sin to visit York and not drop in to what’s invariably become Britain’s most famous tea room. With interiors inspired by the Queen Mary ocean liner, visitors have been munching on Betty’s famous bakes since 1936. You might be hard pressed getting a table for an afternoon tea (unless you’re happy to queue), but given the famously delectable fondant fancies and Yorkshire Fat Rascal scones available to take away you won’t be disappointed.
Visit York Minster
One of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals, the imposing Minster is a masterpiece in exquisite handcrafted stone and Medieval stained glass; the Great East Window is in fact the largest single expanse of stained glass in the country. Time your visit to coincide with a festive carol concert and you’ll hear the incredible Grand Organ, which returned to regular use earlier this year after a £2million refurbishment
Add some antique jewels to your collection
In the city centre lies a veritable treasure trove of independent shops selling a beguiling array of antique jewellery. From Victorian and Edwardian pieces to more modern collectables from the 50s and 60s, you’ll find one boutique after another on Stonegate just waiting to be explored. A favourite is Antiques Centre where you’ll find a wealth of pieces at a fraction of the price you would pay in London, alongside a fascinating array of other trinkets and treasures. A must for any magpie.
Stop into York Gallery
Undoubtedly one of the UK’s best regional galleries, it’s home to some of the best ceramic art in the world thanks to it being the home to the Centre of Ceramic Art, showcasing its internationally significant collection of British Studio Ceramics, alongside works by L.S. Lowry, Turner, and Hockney. Until February it’s home to an exhibition featuring 25 previously unseen drawings by Thomas Gainsborough, shedding new light on his early work and techniques.
Relax in the spa at Rudding Park
While technically closer to Harrogate, if you have a day to spare escape the city walls and head 30 minutes out of town to the magnificent Rudding Park. One of the north of England’s finest spas, spa days incorporate the exceptional rooftop spa with hydrotherapy infinity pool, panoramic sauna, herbal bath steam room, foot spa, experience showers, sunlight therapy room, and oxygen pod, as well as a 45-minute treatment. Undoubtedly worth the journey.