Thursday, 8 December 2016
TRAVEL: A Christmassy weekend in York
I am all for a minibreak - that's probably well established by now - whether it involves hopping on a plane, train or just whizzing up the M1 for a weekend, I am in. There's so much of our great country that I have yet to explore, and about the same amount of it that I have explored and am longing to go back to (hello, Scotland). A couple of weeks ago, we headed up to York for the weekend, which was an EXCELLENT idea.
While the M1 on a Friday night is not my favourite place in the world, it was all worth it when we arrived. I've been to York many times before, and never get sick of it - it's one of my favourite places. We had the cosiest, Christmassiest weekend full of amazing food, mulled wine, beautiful scenery and happiness. Join me, on a wonderful journey through a really gorgeous town, would you?
Where we went
The last weekend of November was the perfect time to be in York. We were just starting to get excited about Christmas, and then we rocked up in the world of Christmas markets, windy streets, cute shops and ALL THE MULLED WINE. I wore my cosiest boots from Spartoo and got stuck in to the exploring.
It's a really good Christmas Market - have you noticed how many rubbish ones are out there these days? The York one doesn't disappoint, with lots of stalls of stuff you might actually want to buy, and free samples of cheese and sloe gin and chocolate, and stalls selling great street food, donuts (those greasy little funfair ones that are the best thing ever) and of course mulled wine. I had some with amaretto in it. It was wonderful.
Grand Opera House
While being all Christmassy, I feel we should have really gone to see a panto, but this was close enough as the Grand Opera House invited us to see Pick Me Up Theatre's showing of Spamalot. It's been on my list for a long time, and it didn't disappoint - hilarious with great songs, and the perfect way to spend a chilly afternoon. Emily Ramsden, who played the Lady of the Lake, was amazing. Loved it.
Jorvik Viking Centre
We were gifted with York Passes at the Visit York tourism office which gave us entry into loads of attractions and museums - well worth investing in one if you're planning a trip. The original Jorvik museum is still closed after last year's flood, but they've moved the exhibits to spots all over the city and we popped into St Mary's to see one of them. The exhibits were really interesting - it's fascinating to see how they lived (although all the info about reindeer pelts and showing what they made out of antlers put me in mind of Hannibal in an 'honour every part' kinda way). Also the museum staff were great, really friendly and clearly fascinated in their subject matter, and even though yes, they're dressed as Vikings, they weren't ~acting~ which made it so much better, because I always find that a bit creepy. They had great beards, too.
We also used our York Pass to get into Barley Hall, as I wanted to see the exhibit of costumes from Wolf Hall and The Tudors, which was great - so much detail. They had it all set up for Christmastide - the banquet room gave me serious Christmas Table Goals.
I could have spent hours wandering around The Shambles, which is a beautiful higgledy piggledy collection of streets with unusual shops full of interesting things. Apparently JK Rowling based Diagon Alley on The Shambles, which I can totally see - it was magical.
Where we stayed
The Mount Royale Hotel were kind enough to put us up. It's well located, just 10 minutes walk to the town centre, and it has free parking, to boot. It's super charming and quirky, combining a jungle-lined corridor with vintagey touches like old typewriters on display and even an old spindle.
Plus, our bed was enormous - wider than I was tall. I don't generally sleep well in hotels - I can never get my temperature right and it's too noisy and I'm the lightest sleeper ever - but this was a wonderful exception. The bed was so comfortable, the room was deathly quiet (my DREAM) and the blackout curtains were so effective that when we woke up at 9.30am, we thought it was the middle of the night.
The breakfast was excellent too, with homemade granola, an extensive list of cooked options (including Yorkshire Rarebit on Sundays) and a very excellent fry-up. Plus, there's a restaurant attached, which is worth a visit even if you're not staying. I'm getting to that...
Oxo's Restaurant on the Mount
We had dinner on the Saturday night at the hotel's restaurant, which was buzzing and with good reason, as it's got a great menu full of local produce. We started with Ballotine of Rabbit (me) and Cured Duck Breast (Matt) which were both impeccable.
Next up the Hake (Matt) and the Rump of Yorkshire Lamb (me) - the lamb was soooo good, just look at the colour! I love rare meat and this was cooked to perfection with a delicious mountain of potato dauphinoise on the side.
Finally for dessert, I had the Apple Crumble Pie and Matt had the Iced Banana Parfait which were both amazing, again. Everything was perfect, to be honest.
On the Sunday we had lunch at the Walmgate Ale House and Bistro, which was fantastic - more on that in my next post! We had an incredible weekend in York and can't wait to go back - I was sad that we only had one full day there as there was so much more I wanted to see and do - and eat, of course. But the time we did have there was perfect. Thank you, Visit York, for giving us a wonderful weekend. If you're planning a visit to York, you can check out their Original City Adventure campaign here, and make sure you pick up a York Pass too!
My visit was in collaboration with Visit York, who kindly arranged our accommodation and food for the weekend.
© Essbeevee | Hertfordshire, London, St Albans, Tring food, lifestyle, interiors & travel blog. All rights reserved.