I love living in London, for so many reasons. But one reason is that is makes travelling around the UK extremely easy. Although my family and I often drive to many of our British holiday destinations, we sometimes prefer the ease of the trains. I had been wanting to visit York for ages, and when I discovered that there was a direct train from London, I knew that we should head there for a mini-break.
In August, Husband and I packed the kids off to their grandparents' house and we headed to York for a mid-week break to celebrate my 41st birthday. We had a glorious time. We ate lots of lovely meals, drank plenty of delightful cocktails and saw so many beautiful sights. I thought three days would be adequate for seeing this city. But I was mistaken. Husband and I have already discussed returning to York - next time with Moozles and Dubz. There's still so much more to see. But I thought I would share my top five favourite reasons to visit York.
1. Beautiful Architecture
Everywhere you look, it is just ancient gorgeousness. Besides cobbled streets, York has the longest medieval town wall in England. The walls aren't complete but mainly go around the city centre. The walls are over two miles long, which takes about two hours to walk around. It is free to walk along, and makes for a fun activity. Any walk around York would have its share of beautiful buildings, and we really enjoyed just walking around. While walking around, you are likely to see Clifford's Tower, the only remaining part left of York Castle (which was built by William the Conqueror). They are about to repair and renovate the tower, which will make it much easier for visitors to climb and explore the tower.
A visit to York would not be complete without seeing York Minster, Northern Europe's largest Gothic cathedral. Husband and I are not religious people, but this cathedral is just stunning (imagine beautiful stained glass and the cavernous nave). And you can even go into the Undercroft, which was my history-loving Husband's favourite part. You get to explore under the cathedral.
2. Great Food
Before a holiday or mini-break, I like to spend about four or five hours on the internet looking for potential restaurants. This may seem excessive, but I am able to admit that I have a problem in over-researching places/purchases. But my researching paid off as we had an abundance of great restaurants to choose from. My favourite was Khao San Road, a cute Thai restaurant less than five minutes' walk from the hotel. For my birthday meal we went to Ambiente Tapas Fossgate, which is a Mediterranean tapas restaurant and sherry bar. It was quite cool and buzzy, and the food was delicious. Neither Husband nor I are great sherry lovers but it was fun to try them out. We did think that the upstairs part of the restaurant was too smoky and were happy to get out in the fresh air after dinner. But other than that we enjoyed the meal.
3. Afternoon Tea & Cafe Culture
Okay, okay, I know I already did a section on food. But afternoon tea is something else. There are so many tea houses in York. We went to Bettys as it is renowned for its afternoon tea. You could just show up and wait in the long queue, but you can also book (for a little bit more money) and book a table. The service is fantastic and the afternoon tea is superb. If tea is not your thing, there are loads of cafes - both chains and independents. Husband, who is serious when it comes to good coffee, really enjoyed The Fossgate Social.
York is in the county of Yorkshire, which means it is in the north of England. This sounds like it is very very far away from London. So imagine my surprise when I checked the Virgin Trains East Coast timetable and discovered that we could get a direct train to York in just under two hours. Two hours! We had never travelled first class on a train before so our other surprise was that food, drinks and wifi were included. We actually arrived into York wishing we had had a longer train journey.
5. Lovely Hotels
When I first looked into visiting York, I was surprised at the number of fab boutique hotels, modern apartments and posh hotels. It was a tough choice but we decided upon Hotel Indigo York. The hotel is utterly cool. I was so impressed with the interiors, not to mention the complimentary chocolate in our room. And the employees were always really cheerful and helpful (it was like being in the States). The breakfasts were delicious, and we enjoyed the night-time ambience when we had drinks in the bar. Another great aspect of the hotel was its location. Walmgate is the foodie district so there are tons of restaurants and cafes within a few minutes walk from the hotel.
And that's it - five great reasons to visit York. It is such a beautiful city full of friendly people. You'll never want to leave!
I was not paid to write this post. We were given a media rate for the hotel, but we had already chosen the hotel and would definitely stay there again.