The Principal is one of those real town-meets-country kind of places where you feel like you could be staying in a beautiful stately home and yet you have the wonderful city of York within walking distance. That’s what I call a perfect combination.
The Principal York (formerly The Royal York Hotel) has always been an iconic building but after slipping into the territory of ‘faded grandeur’ over latter years, it underwent a huge renovation and reopened last November. I’d heard such good things about the new interiors that I’ve been excited to try it for ages and it didn’t disappoint.
And it couldn’t be more convenient being situated right next to York train station – you can literally access the hotel straight from the platform! Yes, that means you could be here in less than two hours from London King’s Cross and walk straight off your train and into this idyll – tempting, no? You’d be in good company too as the hotel was used by Queen Victoria as a stopover en route to Balmoral Castle apparently.
This hotel has an impressive history of its own, originally opening in 1878, it features an Italianate façade of Scarborough brick and Tadcaster stone, which makes it one of the most handsome houses in York (as you can imagine, there’s quite a bit of competition).
Imagine the most beautiful, relaxing country house that feels like a tranquil retreat and yet, should you wish to venture out, all of lovely York with its history, culture, shopping and restaurants is just a short walk away. I love having the best of both worlds, don’t you?I love the way the new interiors scheme is really sympathetic to this history and while it has all the modern day comforts you’d expect from a great hotel, historic architectural details have been preserved and complemented. I think it would have been a shame to fill this beautiful, iconic building with ultra-modern interiors. I know it can work in some places but I imagine it would have really jarred here. Instead, feast your eyes on the impossibly elegant Garden Room (below), next to the main lobby, which is where guests can enjoy traditional British afternoon tea whilst looking out across manicured lawns to York Minster in the distance.One of my favourite aspects of the hotel is the original Victorian cantilevered ironwork stairwell, which has been beautifully restored – seriously, staircase of dreams! This beauty sweeps down grandly to the lobby or alternatively leads up to your gorgeous room (with a view of the Minster).
The guest bedrooms and suites, each decorated in a muted soft cream palette, feature polished marble bathrooms with freestanding sinks, large walk-in showers and Victorian roll-top baths by Villeroy & Boch. There are some nice touches for guests too which include the in-room Tuck Box which can be restocked at the Corner Shop in the downstairs lobby (located in a fabulous trunk-style leather armoire!). The Refectory Kitchen & Terrace, the hotel’s restaurant, is housed in a conservatory-style dining room, and uses regional ingredients such as Whitby Crab and Harrogate blue cheese. There’s also the Chapter House Bar which serves craft beers and cocktails including a wide variety of local gins and York Brewery beers. There are nods to the city’s rich history throughout the hotel, including antique-style cartography hanging on the walls (like the one you can see in my room), which maps out York’s bygone era as a Viking and Roman capital. I really like it when hotels subtley reflect their location without making it feel too touristy or themed.
What can I say? The staff are great, the hotel’s a dream and the location is perfect! I’d really recommend this one if you fancy a trip up north and want to enjoy a bit of town and country rolled into one. For more info check out the hotel website here. And if you do finally leave the hotel and want some recommendations on what to do in York, take a look at this post for a few of my favourites.
Disclosure: I stayed at the Principal York for one night free of charge, for the purposes of this review. As ever, all opinions are honest and my own.