Located only two hours outside of London, York is a city that sounds like it might be a little Disneyland-like—a place built solely for tourists. There, one can visit attractions like the interactive York’s Chocolate Story and the animatronic Jorvik Viking Centre, where you board a car to explore the sights, sounds and smells of the Viking age. (Both spots, I might add, I absolutely loved!)
But York is surprising. It is also a college town with a vibrant nightlife, incredible Georgian architecture and tons of history to its name.
One of those bits of history is The Grand York hotel.
Street cred: It’s all about location
A member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts L.V.X. Collection, The Grand York is in the former 1906 headquarters of the North Eastern Railway. It makes sense, then, that the hotel is ideally located steps away from the York Railway station. Being a creature of comfort and convenience, I was able to roll my luggage the short distance to the hotel without the use of one of the readily available cabs.
Across the street from the hotel are the old city walls and York’s main shopping streets and scenic sights, like York Minster and York Castle Museum, are within easy walking distance.
Who hangs here: Is this hotel for you?
You’ll see a smattering of older business types, younger well-heeled families and an all-ages cool crowd, especially in the industrial-hip 1906 lounge.
The straight goods: What’s in the room?
The hotel added 100 extra rooms in 2018, giving it a total of 207 rooms and suites, classically or contemporarily styled. My room, number 358, had a contemporary aesthetic, with grey and sable furnishings, light woods and modern artwork. This was not a cool modernism, though, but an elegant, tasteful design with a dark charcoal, riveted headboard, burnished brass switches and chinoiserie bedside lamps. Light woods and panelled walls both completed the chic look.
There was also a nook with kettle and cups for tea lovers (with real milk in the fridge), a small sitting area with table to sit and enjoy that cuppa and an area for the decent-sized desk and chair.
Plugs were plentiful—a common complaint when they’re missing—and were found bedside, too, which I need to plug in the copious tech equipment I take when travelling. I also loved the reading lights tucked into the tufted headboard for when I wasn’t sleepy, and my partner was.
Bathrooms were in cream and grey marble and included a separate toilet area, a shower with both a hand-held and rain showerhead, plus Molten Brown toiletries scented with mandarin and clary sage.
Good eats: Cocktails and cuisine
The Rise Restaurant, Terrace & Bar is the go-to spot for breakfast, afternoon tea and all-day dining. The restaurant’s industrial-style setting with open kitchen fits well with its menu—a Yorkshire take on traditional British cuisine, offering no-fuss fare focused on local meats and produce. Expect to find items like rump of lamb, filet of beef and vale of York pork belly, accompanied by black pudding, grilled tomatoes and buttermilk onion rings.
After dinner, head to the small, heated terrace off the main restaurant or to the bar for a proper digestif.
Bragging rights: What else has it got?
The Grand York has an on-site spa, pool and well-equipped cookery school—a fairly new offering for those who want to learn to make everything from classic pub fare to global street food or prepare a traditional cream tea.
A few of our favorite things: What stood out?
The 1906 Bar, in a former clerks’ office, is a standout for its creative cocktails, champers by the glass and very large whisky collection. Sinking into the burgundy leather chairs and being served by the lounge’s knowledgeable staff only made it that much better.
Parting shot: If we could change one thing
The room didn’t have a coffee machine in it and, while I understand that I was in Britain where tea is king (or queen, really), a good cup ‘o Joe was sorely missed first thing in the a.m.
Rates in September and October start at £152.
(Feature photo courtesy of The Grand York)
Janice stayed as a guest of the hotel. The hotel did not have editorial approval.