48 hours in York
A vibrant Yorkshire city with Roman roots and a Viking past, York offers great food and adventure for everyone. Read on for our tried and tested recommendations for hotels, restaurants and general foodie fun…
York is a city where ancient walls surround incredible local businesses, attractions, shops, accommodation and eateries, with exciting events every day and inspiring festivals every month of the year. Perfectly placed half-way between London and Edinburgh and with the glorious Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors and Wolds right on the doorstep, York is unlike any other English city. There’s thirty world-class museums you can explore, the best racecourse in the country and a thriving cultural scene.
WHERE TO STAY
No.1 is a brand-new launch from GuestHouse - an independent hospitality group created by brothers, Tristan, James and Tom Guest - who are renowned for creating one-off, wonder-filled hotels, with outposts in Margate, Bath and now York. No.1 is set inside a gorgeous Georgian building (formerly The Grange Hotel if you’re familiar with York) and the GuestHouse team have breathed new life into this handsome, historic building, with romantic interiors that offer guests an indulgent treat while retaining the warmth and character of a traditional guest house. Read on for our full review
Certainly living up to its name, The Grand (Yorkshire’s only five-star hotel) is stunning inside and out, with beautifully retained original features and sweeping stone staircases, all complemented by lush fabrics and opulent details. This Edwardian abode might seem imposing (it’s housed in the iconic former headquarters of the North Eastern Railway Company) but the welcome you’ll receive on arrival from the cheery doormen and reception staff couldn’t be warmer.
The Grand opened in 2010 and added 100 new rooms as part of a £15 million expansion, doubling the capacity for accommodation. If possible we’d recommend booking one of the swish and stylish new rooms, though they all boast marble topped baths, Egyptian Cotton bed linen and Molton Brown toiletries. Located a five minute walk from the station and a quick ten minute stroll from the city centre and all of its foodie delights, The Grand is one of the most conveniently located hotels in York. The original vaults have also been converted into an exquisite spa with a huge pool and fitness rooms.
Diners have two great options: locally- focused, casual all-day menus at The Rise or fine dining at Legacy, an intimate restaurant offering tasting menus overlooking York Minster.
With hotels in some of the UK’s smartest cities and towns, the Hotel du Vin brand is usually a reliable mark of quality both in terms of accommodation and food – and the York branch we tested out didn’t disappoint. Tucked away in the Mount area of the city, the hotel lies outside the city walls within a Grade II-listed mansion house, combining classic early 19th century architecture and charm with luxurious touches.
It’s a 20 minute walk from main attractions such as the York Minster and Shambles shopping area, so is a little less central than some of the city’s other four-star hotels, but York is such a lovely city to stroll around it’s a pleasure to come and go. The train station is also a short ten-minute walk away. Travellers wanting a bit of peace and quiet might also appreciate being away from the touristy bustle of the city centre. Inside you’ll find 44 distinctive rooms and suites, featuring luxurious beds with Egyptian cotton linen, powerful drench showers and roll top baths, flat screen TVs and unique features that have been carefully restored.
The Parisian brasserie-style restaurant was a real highlight for us; light and bright with botanical colours and sweeping foliage, it’s a lovely spot for a romantic meal in the winter, while the inviting courtyard would be lovely for alfresco dining. Grab a cosy banquette and settle in for a feast of hearty French classics made with delicious Yorkshire ingredients, including Grimsby haddock, Taylors Farm pumpkins, Slingsby Gin and Harrogate Blue Cheese. Highlights
WHERE TO EAT
As the name of this welcoming no-waste restaurant on York’s bustling Micklegate suggests, produce sourced from the sea and forest reigns supreme here. Recently recognised in the Michelin Guide for its Commitment to Sustainable Gastronomy, Fish & Forest is the brainchild of self-taught chef and owner Stephen Andrews, who specialises in cooking seasonal and sustainable fish, meat and forest foods, including wild or ethically-farmed fish and locally sourced game which he butches in-house. Read on for our full review…
Tommy Banks and the team behind the renowned Black Swan in Oldstead opened their second restaurant, Roots, in the city of York to huge acclaim in 2018, winning a Michelin Star in 2021. With seasoned critics Giles Coren and Grace Dent giving it rave reviews, we were itching to try it out for ourselves – and were utterly blown away. If you’re not already aware of Tommy and his team’s inspiring farm-to-fork philosophy, the restaurant takes the freshest hyper-seasonal ingredients (many harvested from the family farm in Oldstead) and brings them together in delightful and surprising ways.
Few visitors to York fail to visit Bettys. Founded in 1919, Bettys’ mouth-watering cakes, refreshing teas and friendly smiles have made it world famous. The menus feature a unique mix of continental classics and British favourites – plus, of course, Bettys’ legendary afternoon tea. There are no gimmicks or themes, just traditional bakes done well! Bettys also has a fabulous selection of fine tea to go with your choice of sweet treats. It makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time, and the scones are particularly delicious!
The perfect meeting place for all sizes of groups - whether it’s for lunch, dinner, breakfast or a catch-up over coffee or a glass of wine - The Star Inn The City is a real crowd-pleaser, and the location on the banks of the River Ouse couldn’t be more idyllic.
The ethos at this welcoming Brasserie-style restaurant is been simple: to bring a little taste of the countryside to the city, offering diners the chance to enjoy exquisite seasonal cuisine all year round. Inspired by the vision of Andrew Pern of the Michelin-starred Star Inn at Harome, the team use the finest, locally-sourced ingredients to create scrumptious seasonal dishes.
Highlights from our visit include starters of Oak Smoked North Sea Halibut with Baked Garden Beetroots & Blood Orange and tender Pan Roast King Scallops with Gamekeeper’s Haggis. Mains of Roast Yorkshire Wolds Breast of Chicken and Black Treacle Braised Ox Cheek were similarly sumptuous, but the star of the show was a stunning pudding of Baked Vanilla Custard with Yorkshire Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream, and Ginger Parkin.
North African food is taken to spectacular new heights at Los Moros, a vibrant and buzzy restaurant in the heart of York city centre. Founded in 2015 by Tarik Abdeladim, the business started out serving delicious street food in the Shambles Market; it proved so popular that Tarik and his team opened a restaurant in 2018 to much local acclaim.
An impressive range of food is made in house, including pickles, preserved lemons, chermoula, hummus, falafel and even Merguez sausages - and you can really taste the quality. Local sourcing is also a priority, with meat from the Yorkshire Dales meat company, halloumi made by the Dama Company in Huddersfield and sourdough bread baked fresh every day by the Haxby Bakehouse.
We kicked things off with a few treats from the nibbles menu: glistening marinated anchovies and plump Casablanca Olives, perfectly paired with glasses of icy white wine from the Bolney Estate in West Sussex. Next up we feasted on small plates of the most delicate spinach and feta boureks smothered in Yorkshire honey, juicy garlic pil pil prawns and ‘Easten Fried Chicken’, perfectly spiced with sumac and za’atar.
Mains are hearty but sophisticated, putting a modern twist on much-loved flavours and dishes from North Africa. Highlights include the meltingly tender Ox Cheeks Tanjia, served with cumin gouda mash and pickled red onions, and tender grilled octopus with hazelnut muhammara and squid ink balsamic. A riot of flavour and texture, we’ll certainly be back!
Forage is a buzzy neighbourhood restaurant and late-night bar in the beating heart of York, moments from the cobbled streets of Stonegate and just a few streets from the historic Shambles. A cracking spot for a creative cocktail and snacks, a romantic meal for two or even a Sunday roast with a modern twist, this beautuful space offers something for everyone - there’s even a ‘little foragers’ menu for kids.
On the menu you’ll find contemporary European cuisine cooked over fire; locally sourced and foraged ingredients are expertly used to add exciting, fresh flavours to dishes, which range in size from snacks to small plates and larger bowls. Highlights from the menu include crispy fried chicken with smoked chilli mayo, crab bon bon’s with a smokey muhammara sauce and perfectly tender ribeye steak with wild garlic pesto and truffle.
To plan your trip to York, head to visityork.org for more information.
Transport was provided by London North Eastern Railway. For more information and to book tickets lner.co.uk.
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