If you follow our Instagram page, you will know that we have recently been to the wonderful, historic city that is York.
York is a beautiful walled city in northeast England, (North Yorkshire to be precise), founded by the ancient Romans. Let me set the scene. Imagine a city with Roman roots and a Viking past, where ancient walls surround contemporary independent shops and vibrant eateries and there is a festival for every month of the year.
Welcome to York! Its historic past is etched in every street, but it’s not all about the fascinating history, there are world class museums, the best racecourse in the country – a race day experience here is top class. Plus, a thriving cultural scene.
We have been to York many times but always look forward to another visit as there is so much to see and do and, on this occasion, we realised we had never walked the ‘City Walls’, it had to be done.
But first we needed to check into our home for the next couple of days. The Principal York is the perfect base from which to discover this fabulous city and that is where we were lucky enough to be staying. Blending the grandeur of late-Victorian architecture with the comforts of modern travel, The Principal York offers its guests the warmest welcome this side of the Pennines.
Our room had a spectacular view of the hotel gardens and York Cathedral, commonly known as ‘York Minster’, which we especially appreciated first thing in the morning and at sunset, standing proud on the city horizon.
The Principal Hotel is one of the most beautiful, elegant hotels you will find anywhere, where original late Victorian features blend perfectly with the luxurious furnishings of modern day. There are large, exquisite lounges everywhere, perfect for a quite hour with the paper or your favourite book, or even better – Afternoon Tea or a cocktail.
As tempting as this was, we had sightseeing to do and the late spring weather was perfect to walk the short distance to see The Minster up close. You cannot believe the size of it and how the heck did they manage to build such a huge, ornate building in ancient times! It actually took 250 years! From 1220 to 1472, so when you do visit, give it the respect it deserves, it really is fantastic.
From The Minster we wandered off to the Shambles. Shambles is one of the best-preserved medieval shopping streets in Europe. Although none of the original shopfronts have survived from medieval times, some properties still have exterior wooden shelves, reminders of when cuts of meat were served from the open windows. The street was made narrow by design to keep the meat out of direct sunlight, but you can readily imagine the Shambles packed with people and awash with offal and discarded bones.
Today, these beautiful old buildings have been restored and now house cheerful cafes, quirky boutiques, chocolate, fudge and sweet shops and even a coin and stamp dealer. This street is also believed to have been the inspiration behind Diagon Alley from the movie adaptation of the Harry Potter series and because of this, York has now become known as a hot spot for Harry Potter fans to come and see the “Diagon Alley” up close. This means that you can now also find several magical shops dotted along the street including The Shop That Must Not Be Named, World of Wizadry and The Boy Wizard.
Out of nowhere, we spotted a large red open topped bus and hopped on for a tour of the city. These buses are great because you can hop on and off as many times as you like making sure you don’t miss anything. Driving past the City Walls, we knew we had to walk the length and breadth of them, but that was for tomorrow as time was marching on and we were booked into the hotel restaurant, The Refectory Kitchen and Terrace for dinner. So, we made our way back with tomorrow’s plans in place.
Dining in the One AA Rosette Refectory Kitchen and Terrace was a lovely experience, the welcome was genuine, the restaurant is large, light and airy with a well-designed menu of snacks, starters, mains, from the grill, sides and desserts. We started with ‘the snacks’ and chose to share Radishes with whipped feta, spring onion ash dressing. This was delicious. We both love radishes and dipped in the whipped, creamy dip, this a great start to our meal.
Our starters of South Coast Crab, cucumber, pickled watermelon rind, gem lettuce and sourdough crisp and Asparagus and Hollandaise Tart, watercress and asparagus salad, were both superb. But the standout was definitely that tart! The pastry was spot on and the flavour combination sheer perfection. It was obvious from the start that only the finest ingredients Yorkshire has to offer make their way to this kitchen!
After a short break, which we requested, our mains of South Coast Crab, chilli and lemon linguine and 10oz Casterbridge Rib-Eye Steak arrived. The steak was cooked beautifully and melted in the mouth and the linguine packed a punch of fantastic flavours that had me eating it long after I had had enough! This was a huge portion and could have fed two people easily, I was beaten.
But there was also method in my madness as I was leaving space for dessert and it was worth it!
The Burnt Basque Cheesecake with roasted rhubarb was divine. As a massive fan of rhubarb, this was my dream dessert. There was not even a crumb left on my plate!
Our other dessert was just as delicious and completely different, Dark Chocolate Fondant with malted cream, I managed to steal a taste and can confirm it was gooey and perfect, this had been a superb meal. Did we mention the service? Every part of this dining experience was bang on and that’s saying something when you have such a brilliant choice of restaurants to choose from in York.
The following morning, we decided on a light breakfast of Poached Eggs on Toast, this might seem like an unusual decision, but we had Afternoon Tea to look forward to at Cafe21 and we wanted to be able to do it justice. (see our separate review).
We had enjoyed a wonderful stay at The Principal York Hotel and couldn’t fault a thing. If you are visiting York yourself, make sure you book a room here, it is the perfect base to explore the city from and, with such fantastic food, you don’t need to go anywhere else. Location wise, there is lots of on-site parking and it is also a stones throw from the train station – could it get any better?
We were sad to be leaving this beautiful, historic hotel, but ‘The Wall’ was beckoning. You can be sure we will be back very soon.
It’s time to celebrate at Principal York
We’ve missed out on so much over the last 16 months. The luxury hotel, a stone’s throw from the train station in the beautiful, historic city of York, has launched a special Celebration Package to give you an excuse to treat your favourite person.
You’ll enjoy a bottle of Champagne on arrival and a delicious 3-course dinner in the AA Rosette Refectory Kitchen and Terrace restaurant, before relaxing in your beautiful room. In the morning, enjoy a full English breakfast and then a late 2pm checkout to make the most of your time together.
Enjoy a drink or snack in the Garden Room, unwind with a cocktail in the Chapter House bar, tuck into great British fare in the Refectory, or enjoy a swim, sauna, or work out in the leisure club.
To find out more about the Celebration Package at Principal York, visit www.theprincipalyork.ihg.com or call 01904 653 681