With the offer of some rare overnight babysitting, me and the mister headed to York recently. We had 24 hours in which to pack eating, drinking, shopping and a little sightseeing; here’s what we got up to.
York is just under an hour away from us via car or train so it’s a fairly quick hop, skip and a jump yet we don’t make it through that regularly. Consequently a visit to York still feels like a treat and a real break from the norm when we do, especially child-free, but it also feels reasurringly familiar and do-able on foot. York is also easy to get to from elsewhere in the UK via train and it pays to leave the car at home as this is a mainly pedestrianised, cycle-friendly city with limited parking for cars in the centre.
If you’re looking for a short stay or weekend break there are some great hotels ranging from the quirky and boutique to the larger chains. We just needed a one night stay so booked a room in the centrally located York Hilton and luckily got an upgrade so we had a view of Clifford’s Tower outside. However, a friend of mine recently stayed at Judge’s Court, which looks brilliant and is hidden down a passageway off one of the main shopping streets in York so you have everything on your doorstep but it still feels really private. We really wanted to try this place but it’s worth noting they only do a minimum of two night stays. There’s also the 5 star The Judge’s Lodging, in one of the most handsome buildings in York, if you fancy going all out.Once we’d checked in we headed for lunch, armed with a few good recommendations including Mannion & Co and Brew & Brownie, both of which are lovely looking, small independents but very popular so we couldn’t get a table on the Saturday. Instead, we headed for the York branch of Bill’s restaurant which Greig hadn’t tried before. I knew there would be space there and we’d get good food so no matter. I’ve also heard fab things about the York branch of Jamie’s Italian if you’re in a similar predicament.
After a delicious burger (for him) and truffle-infused mac & cheese (for me), we went to do a bit of shopping. While our home town of Harrogate has some great shopping and entertainment these days, I still love York’s cobbled streets and beautiful old original buildings. We stopped in a couple of places to stock up on a couple of treats including Neal’s Yard (excellent sales staff), The Imaginarium (I knew Greig would love its range of bizarre and beautiful merchandise) and the York branch of Oliver Bonas where I picked up a couple of new pieces of jewellery. The store is housed in the most incredible building with amazing original features and stained glass.After heading back to the hotel for a rest and a bath (using my new Neal’s Yard remedies of course), we got ready to go out. We’d made a reservation at one of the two branches of Ambiente tapas. Nearby on Fossgate there are some nice bars where you can work up an appetite including the small but atmospheric Fossgate Social and the slightly larger Sutler’s bar where we had a good gin cocktail. Ambiente also serves great drinks, boasting its very own sherry bar, but we were ready to get stuck into some food and wine by then. The atmosphere was busy yet still relaxed and we had a nice corner table where we could chat but still feel part of the general buzz which I like. The food was delicious including the octopus, prawns, a beautifully tender belly pork and a lovely side of green beans pan fried in garlic with sundried tomatoes and pinenuts. We also left room for something sweet and because we couldn’t decide, had the assiette of desserts plus a glass of sherry and muscat.The next day we swerved the hotel breakfast and decided to try our luck again at Mannion & Co. I’m really glad we waited as it was the most glorious bright morning (it was actually the official first day of spring) and we got a table in the courtyard out back. It felt so good, sharing a good coffee and some great eggs for breakfast, seated outside with the sun on our faces, listening to the bells of the Minster nearby. You know it’s spring when you eat alfresco for the first time right? By the way the menu at Mannion & Co looked amazing and I want to go back to try their sandwiches and cakes one day.I take the Minster for granted a little when I’m in York, often just catching a peek of it as it hoves into view above the rooftops as I’m busy pounding the pavements. But we ducked our heads inside for a minute and were treated to a snippet of a live performance which sounded beautiful and the interior is pretty awe-inspiring as you can imagine – worth a proper visit but you have to pay to gain full entrance.Instead I thought I’d kill the mister’s slight hangover with a visit to one of York’s historical attractions, opting for the Richard III experience, located in the original Monk’s Bar (which wasn’t so much about him in the end but was interesting enough). I’d also recommend a walk along the York city walls accessible from here, where you get a great perimeter view of the city which looks lovely at this time of year with all the daffodils in bloom. And the best thing about York is to just let yourself wander and get lost a little – often the most interesting places are tucked down little side streets.Coat (old) H&M / Scarf: Mango/ Jumper: c/o Genevieve Sweeney / Jeans: H&M / Bag: c/o Great Plains / Loafers: New Look
By that point it was time to set off home and pick up the kiddos, so we grabbed a takeaway coffee – there are loads of great caffeine stops in York including Spring Espresso, the Perky Peacock and the aforementioned Brew & Brownie, which I really want to sample next time as the food menu looks great too. We also picked up some plants as a thank you gift for our babysitters from Wards the Florist on Clifford Street, again you guessed it, in the most beautiful original building. And that pretty much sums up why I love York.
P.S. If you like the look of that beautiful bucket bag, I’ve teamed up with Great Plains to offer my readers a chance to win one of their own – more details here.
Bye for now,