From the early days of the Romans and Vikings to the hustle and bustle of 21st Century designers and restaurateurs, York’s historic streets are not only paved with glimpses of bygone years but filled with fun, food and fashion.
The city is also a thriving hub for business, home to many big names that flock to this busy bolthole brimming with opportunities, just 2 ½ hours from London by train yet nestled amongst stunning North Yorkshire countryside.
I’m a Yorkshire lass and proud of our accent, dialect and foibles (you try asking for directions to ‘Moorgate’ or for a glass of ‘Coke’ once you’re past the Watford Gap!), but nothing makes Yorkshire people prouder than their villages, towns and cities- and some would deem York to be the capital of North Yorkshire.
So let me ‘show’ you the sites…
Ey up- arriving in York
From the minute you arrive in York, you can’t fail to let its history creep under your skin. The City Walls will be one of the first sites to catch your eye- the longest medieval town walls in England, no less, at just over 2 miles long. Meandering around the walls is a great way to spend some spare time and get to know the city and see some of its sites.
Peaking above the City Walls, York Minster watches over the city. Many vistas in York take in this breathtaking example of Gothic architecture, the largest cathedral of its kind in Northern Europe. Perch yourself on the green next to it and let its history envelop your imagination- it really does speak for itself.
The Yorkshire Museum and Gardens are central to York’s beauty and provide the perfect backdrop for a day of discovery. As well as the five galleries, there are regularly-changing special exhibitions as well as ten acres of stunning gardens to explore.
The Jorvik Viking Centre is one of the most popular attractions in the UK and should be on everyone’s ‘to-do’ list. It offers a real flavour of what York is all about and provides a sense of place. The remains of 1,000 year old houses are revealed beneath your feet, you can explore objects taken from the excavations and Viking-age timbers are brought to life.
Perhaps you fancy taking in some music or culture during your visit to York? As well as a host of pubs and bars offering music of all varieties, the Theatre Royal and the Barbican play host to some famous names all year round. From Shakespeare to Cinderella and musicians as diverse as Newton Faulkner, KT Tunstall and Bryan Ferry, York always has something (or someone) to see.
Where there’s muck there’s brass
A popular Yorkshire saying adorning the walls of many a hostelry, hotel and home.
From the banks of the River Ouse to the City Walls, York is a prime shopping destination. The absence of modern shopping centres in the city centre itself is a real blessing (but you will need to wrap up as you’re outside a lot!) but there’s everything from designer favourites like Mulberry, Whistles and Jo Malone to the quaint shops full of local offerings dotted on and around the historic Shambles and close to the Minster. Look up and marvel at how the buildings almost meet in the middle of the cobbled rows of streets, bursting with jewellery, antiques, flowers, chocolates and a whole range of local goodies. York is also home to two, traditional department stores. Both Brown’s and Fenwick’s house the usual array of top brands but there is a little bit of ‘ye olde worlde’ department store charm about both. Don’t forget your credit card!
Shy bairns get nowt….
If you don’t ask, you don’t get- and now it’s time to offer you the chance to eat, drink and rest those feet! Whether you’ve been in York on business, on a shopping spree or visiting the sites, you’ll have worked up an appetite and want to put your feet up. But where to start? You’re spoilt for choice
York is home to a host of chains- you can’t turn a corner without seeing a Pizza Express, Jamie’s Italian or an All Bar One, but there are some tasty alternatives offering a traditional Yorkshire welcome.
Perhaps the city’s newest addition is the Star Inn the City. Mein host and top chef, Andrew Pern, is famed all over Yorkshire (and, it’s fair to say, beyond) for his food and hospitality having been chef/proprietor of the famous Star Inn Harome (around 30 miles away) for almost 20 years. His newest venture is a real change in direction- but it’s already proving a winner. Choose from his ‘Booze by the Ouse’ (the restaurant occupies a stunning old Engine House on the banks of the River Ouse), an opulent breakfast (banger-in-a bun, happy hen egg banjo anyone?) or take in lunch or dinner where you’ll be spoilt for choice whether you go for sumptuous dishes such as carpaccio of Hambleton Beer-fed Dexter beef fillet and freshly steamed Isle of Shuna Shetland mussels or dip into the ‘Nibbles Menu’ for a Yard o’Yorkshire (local meats, cheeses, pickles), posh sarnies or an afternoon tea.
The Blue Bicycle, on Fossgate, is another local attraction, famed for its fresh fish dishes, homemade desserts and endless wine selections. The ambience here is second to none- day or night, not least because of the building’s ‘colourful’ history- up until the turn of the 20th Century it’s thought the basement was actually a brothel…! Definitely a fact to impress your dining companions with! There are even some photos of the ladies selling their ‘wares’ adorning the walls.
No visit to York (or various part of Yorkshire) would be complete with a trip to Betty’s. It’s an institution. With a reputation dating back to 1919, waiting staff in traditional uniforms, the best cuppa in the North and cakes, scones and pastries to stall even the most ardent foodie, once you nab a coveted seat you’ll understand what all the fuss (and queues!) were about.
As you’ve no doubt gathered, one day in York just isn’t enough so you’ll need a bed for a night or two. And there’s everything from apartments and b and bs to stunning hotels with river views.
As well as your usual Park Inn, Hilton, Travelodge and so on family of well-known chains, there are a few more hotels that you might like to take a look at.
At the slightly more budget end of the scale, Hotel 53 promises a ‘budget hotel offering a boutique experience’. Expect sleek rooms, a friendly bar and great location in the city centre.
If you fancy blowing the budget a little, the Cedar Court Grand is just the place. Just minutes from the railway station (and, coincidentally, the former home of the North Eastern Railway HQ) this 5* hotel doesn’t just offer a bed for the night but a glorious spa, various dining options and tranquil meeting space.
Tarra for now
When it’s time to say goodbye to York, make sure you’ve stocked up on local treats, picked up a few phrases to impress your friends and planned your next trip back. Once visited, never forgotten.
Having worked as a BBC radio journalist for over ten years, I took the leap and ventured into the frenetic world that is PR, setting up my own business eight years ago. And I’ve never looked back.
Only having to answer to yours truly (and occasionally my hubby…!) means I can explore a whole array of opportunities- and many of these take me to UK-wide destinations for both business and pleasure.
Working for the Beeb was great- as well as reading news bulletins, reporting on a variety of issues and presenting shows, I also got to work on high profile events like Children in Need, Comic Relief and Music Live- a lot of fun and a chance to get to know a whole host of diverse locations around the UK. A passion I’ve never lost.
My job now sees me working for everything from top 5* hotels, exclusive interiors’ companies and global telecommunications’ brands to schools, unis and manufacturing companies. Never a dull moment in PR! It also means I’m often here, there and everywhere- and I love it.
I’m based in North Yorkshire and work a lot in places such as York, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester- as well as London. So I get to do quite a bit of wining, dining and reclining in some super hotels, bars and restaurants. Hopefully, I can share with you some of my tips for the best spots in the UK’s busiest business destinations!