The city of York has long been considered one of the most desirable tourist destinations in the UK, and it’s not difficult to see why. Dubbed ‘the capital of the north’, York boasts a stunning Gothic minster as well as the longest intact city walls in the country. The city’s accessibility adds to its appeal: it is located roughly halfway between London and Edinburgh and is well served by the rail network.
Pubs, cafés and restaurants abound; there are shops to cater to every taste and numerous museums dedicated to the city’s history. Reputedly the most haunted place in the country, there are also guided ghost tours every evening (not for the faint-hearted!).
With so much to do and see in York, it can be hard to know where to start. We’ve whittled it down to ten insider tips for a luxury weekend in York.
One hotel… Cedar Court Hotel & Spa. Located within the city walls, York’s first ever 5-star hotel has recently won the accolade of ‘Best Luxury Hotel Spa in the UK’ in the World Luxury Hotel Awards. Despite being York’s most luxurious hotel, it’s the personal touches that make all the difference: what other hotel is thoughtful enough to provide you with an umbrella for the duration of your stay?
One shop… Mulberry Hall. Pay a visit to the fine china and crystal specialists on Stonegate; we promise that you won’t be disappointed. Stop to admire the timber-framed exterior of this 15th Century building; step inside and you will be delighted by an array of beautiful glasses, vases and figurines. Venture upstairs for a delectable café experience with a view over one of York’s most attractive streets.
One activity for a sunny day… The Museum Gardens. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the shopping streets and head to these botanic gardens. Not far from the river, this is a great place to relax. Take some time to explore the Roman and medieval ruins that can be found in the gardens. The ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey are particularly impressive.
One activity for a rainy day… Barley Hall. This reconstructed medieval hall is hidden away down Coffee Yard, one of York’s many snickelways (the name given to the concealed alleyways, shortcuts and narrow footpaths with which the city is riddled). If you manage to locate this hidden gem, reward yourself by popping inside for an insight into 15th Century life.
One café… Spring Espresso on Fossgate. A relatively new addition to York’s coffee scene, this café has taken the city by storm and is now one of the most popular in York. Slightly off the beaten track, you will be glad you found it once you take a sip of one of their award-winning coffees.
One delicatessen… The Hairy Fig. A stone’s throw from Spring Espresso, this pint-sized deli really is a find. Stacked to the ceilings with artisan produce, you could probably spend an hour just browsing. We recommend popping into the café while you’re there.
One cupcakery… Crumbs Cupcakery. Newly opened this year, Crumbs Cupcakery on College Street (behind the Minster) is fast becoming a favourite of ours. If you have a sweet tooth, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a freshly baked cupcake in pleasant surroundings. It’s hard to believe you’re in the city centre as the street has the feel of a village green.
One tourist attraction… The city walls between Bootham Bar and Monk Bar. The outlook from the walls is at its best on the stretch between these two medieval city gates. Mount the walls across the street from York Art Gallery and walk along the wall as it wends its way towards Goodramgate. You will be treated to unrivalled views of York Minster and the surrounding gardens and you may well spot a beer garden or restaurant to return to later on.
One restaurant… Ate O’clock. This restaurant is tucked away behind high street shops and is easy to miss, but it is well worth searching out. The restaurant has a cosy feel and the staff are always friendly. The food’s not half bad either (we recommend the belly pork)!
One place for a drink… The House of the Trembling Madness on Stonegate. Enter through the Trembling Madness off-licence (well worth a visit in its own right) and head up the crooked stairs to the medieval drinking hall. Enjoy a goblet of mead or an excellent beer and marvel at the array of stuffed animals on display.
William Forshaw is Managing Director at Maxwell Scott.