The mini break. One of my favourite things. The opportunity to vacate ones life for a fleeting few days, soaking in culture, great food and walking undiscovered paths. What’s more, if you happen to plan one in this country you can simply pack up the car with no worry for that extra pair of shoes and zip off with minimal faff! Last week I, along with my little family had the chance to stay in a beautiful hotel in the heart of York. We excitedly packed all but the kitchen sink and headed for the M25 ( even this did not dampen our joy!) . Here is what we found……
After our journey we arrived to the stunning Victorian listed building that was our hotel. The Principal York, looking as fine and majestic as its name would suggest greeted us bathed in sunshine. How lucky we were to have such glorious weather! The interior with its airy high ceilings and lovingly restored period features hinted at a grandeur of days past. I was snap snap snapping on my phone, we are currently renovating our old Victorian home, and I imagine we will be for many years to come!! A much bigger project then I could have ever imagined. I think “money pit” was the phrase my dad used! I am always looking for inspiration and love to see a mix of old and new blended together.
We were met warmly by Alex at front of house who told me a little of the history of the property , noting there are rules that come with a listed building, for example no air conditioning is allowed ( fusion fans are in very room should you feel too warm) and the windows have to remain single glazed. After showing us the restaurant, garden room and bar ( which has just won best bar in York! Considering there are 365 of them this is quite an accolade) we ascended the beautiful sweeping staircase to our room.
The room had beautiful views of the gardens, a wonderfully big bed, TV, blissful walk-in shower and the all important cakes and sweet treats that greeted us! A real retreat from the world.
Exhausted from a long drive we headed for the pool, my son could barely wait to whip on his trunks and bomb in the water ! I hit the steam room and jacuzzi and slowly the knots in my shoulders began to unravel. After a dip we went back to the room, it now being around 8.30 and ordered some room service whilst donning the hotel robes. This is to be heaven. What is it about room service that makes me feel like some kind of heiress, swanning around in her robe, demanding cheese toasties at unreasonable hours, consuming them in bed and refusing to even wash up the plate?! Oh the JOY! My son, who is 6 also loves this ritual and the joy on his little face as he tucks in to his crisps ensconced in his bed sheets are memories I have etched to my heart.
After this we pass out and I sleep a solid 8 hours without waking. This has been a long time coming as anyone with a small child or children will agree! The hallowed, urban myth that is the 8 hours sleep! I wake refreshed and ready for breakfast! Buddy and his dad head down for another dip in the pool, I use this time to read my book I bought at the motorway services. Never one to pass up a shopping opportunity! I am reading “The things you only see once you slow down”. A lovely book with some beautiful words and why we should all be putting the brakes on a little. Isn’t it hard to slow down? I never pick up my books anymore. Its a quick scroll through insta before bed and lights out. Something I am seriously working on. Being away, even for a very small amount of time gives you a little headspace and you see things in a different light. This can only be good for the soul I say.
Breakfast didn’t disappoint. A beautiful array of fresh fruits, yoghurts, cereals and delicious pastries and muffins. Alongside a full hot English breakfast option or porridge made to order. The earl grey prunes were my favourite! Served in the beautiful restaurant it was the perfect way to start the day.
After breakfast we headed out into picturesque York to investigate!
York is steeped in history and is so quaint and beautiful yet bustling and buzzing at the same time.
Cobbled streets and age old buildings converted into shops. A real mix of high street names and independent local businesses. Shopping wise you have all your big high street names but for me, when I am somewhere new I long to find somewhere completely unique and new.
I came across two wonderfully unique spots. The first being the Yorkshire Soap Company. Now I can’t claim to be someone excited by soap, but this emporium of beauty stopped me in my tracks and lured me in! Bedecked in chandeliers dripping in twinkling crystal and huge faux flying swans swooping from the ceiling, sets the scene for this beautiful little shop. Soaps of every fathomable incarnation. Slice of soap- cake? In a cake box? Choose Three tiered soap cakes, all incredibly detailed. Mini flower pots of soap, unicorn soap… exhaustive and endless options. Alongside the sudsy gloriousness a full range of candles and body lotions and potions. Uber luxe matches, of which I had to purchase!Luxury length and in beautifully illustrated boxes worthy of leaving out on display. Stockists also of Marvis luxury toothpaste, my favourite being the Yasmin mint. You will find it hard to leave without a treat or two. They also sell online, have a look, come Christmas they would make perfect talking point gifts!
Next door is the quirky and fabulous Imaginarium. Owned by the same creatives as the Yorkshire Soap Company. A magical trip down the rabbit hole. Full of unique interior treasures, art and carefully curated pieces. I was in weird and wonderful heaven. I did buy a few pieces, a framed piece of art, ceramic coffee table piece and a little leopard egg cup holder I plan to pot up with a mini cactus. If funds were unlimited I would have run amok in there! Sadly ( or not, I guess which way you look at it… keeps your purchases that bit more special) they are not online. I plan to head straight there upon my next visit to York.
Any fans of Jo Malone will find joy upon discovering The bathing company. Gorgeous luxe colognes but at a much more pocket friendly price point.
Come lunch time we had barely an appetite after our delicious breakfast so we headed for the Ivy for a coffee and slice of cake. Where I people watched and sipped my perfectly formed flat white. Buddy sat in amazement watching the barman making cocktails.
It was then on to the York Museum details and entry fee info here. They have a Jurassic exhibition which was perfect for us with a dinosaur mad son! Great exhibition with interactive stations for children to uncover fossils and feed a dinosaur through a virtual reality headset. High point for us! Alongside this there were lots of historical exhibits through the ages and we spent a lot of time exploring. It’s also very child friendly.
After this we strolled through the beautiful museum gardens and headed back to the hotel as Buddy was desperate to get back into the pool!
I left the boys to it and freshened up ready for our afternoon tea. Not to be missed and served in the garden room. Complete with bramble gin cocktail housed in a glass tea pot. Buddy had a mock tail to ensure he felt a part of it. The sandwich and cake selection was utterly indulgent and a real treat. The “twilight tea” highly recommend.
We then relaxed in our room until 8pm when we felt hungry again! Seriously if you can’t eat your way through the weekend when you are away when can you?
We headed down to the hotel restaurant, candle lit and full of laid back luxe charm. The staff were just so incredibly friendly. By the end of the meal Buddy and our waiter were on first name terms and had had a great chat about what you should do when you grow up. We were looked after by Richard, and he made quite an impression with Buddy now wanting to be a chef ( as well as an astronaut, geologist and a scientist~ naturally!) the food was of an extremely high standard and the large glass of red finished the day perfectly.
Another restful night and it was time to check out of our little haven from reality. Not before a quick swim and breakfast of course! Once we begrudgingly left the hotel we decided to go back into York before heading home. We really only scratched the surface of its offerings. We headed straight to York chocolate factory for a tour. Such great fun, an interactive tour from the beginning of the humble cocoa bean and it’s evolution to the sweet treat we all know and love now. With lots of interesting facts and chocolate treats along the way. Ending with a truffle making demonstration and a chance for us to make our own chocolate lollipops. After this it was time for a quick coffee and ice cream and back to the car for one last look at the hotel. Testament to the fun we had Buddy cried in the car park! Packed up off we went waving goodbye to a vibrant, fun and historical gem of a city. We will return!
Other attractions we ran out of time for but were recommended:
The Jorvik Centre
The Steam Rail Museum
Harry Potter Tour
Thank you to the Principal Hotel for a truly memorable stay and for looking after us so well.
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