Hotel Reviews - UK

Where to stay in York: Step back in time at The Grand Hotel & Spa

Last weekend, we stepped inside one of York’s most historic, and certainly one of the grandest, hotels. With a fortunate twist of fate from our point of view, it was also the only five star hotel in York. Bonus!

The Grand Hotel & Spa is housed in the former headquarters of the North Eastern Railway Company, a legacy which is impossible to escape as you wander around the impressive hotel. The original offices have been turned into suites, the boardrooms into function rooms, and original features such as the distinctive green tiling in the stairwells remain.

As much as it boasts history, this is a hotel that also screams class and luxury. Everything is thought about for you here, from the valet who will park your car for the night after you’ve drawn up outside, to the concierge who seems happy to talk about the history of the hotel to anyone who’s interested, to the little touches of luxury in the suite waiting for you (we’re talking truffles on arrival, shortbread left on our bed at night, and dressing gowns for all us, including our little girl!).

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The suite we were staying in was huge. It was so big, in fact, that our little girl could sleep in the living room section of the suite, separated by a door, which allowed us to relax with a TV show after dinner without waking her.

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The furnishings were plush, the decor tasteful and understated. We even had two bathrooms in our suite!

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A massive part of the appeal of the Grand, service and hospitality aside, is the spa. Housed in the atmospheric vaults (you can still see the original safes where money was stowed in the North Eastern Railway days), the pool, jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room provided the perfect escape for us for a couple of hours.

We liked that our little girl, clearly looking and feeling pretty smug in her very own toddler-sized dressing gown and slippers, was allowed in at any time of the day, and she really loved splashing around in the pool with us.

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We had worked up something of an appetite with all of that relaxing, and so thought we deserved afternoon tea. The Grand, as you might expect from a five star establishment, does afternoon tea the traditional way. Scones, savoury treats, and pretty little sweet treats are served on a silver stand along with a choice of tea.

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For us, the pleasure of tucking into savoury delights such as the smoked salmon bagel and apple and fennel sausage roll, the warm scones, and the gorgeous cakes topped off by the sublime toffee apple cupcake, was bettered only by the delight of our little girl, who was served her very own children’s afternoon tea!

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She particularly liked the scone (especially the clotted cream), the little gingerbread man biscuit, and the raspberry jelly. It was lovely for her to feel so involved, and even better for us not to have to part with any of our sweet treats! The Grand often do themed afternoon teas, which look fabulous.

After a good night’s sleep – amazing since we were smack bang in the middle of York – we wandered down to breakfast feeling surprisingly hungry despite our indulgence the day before. The Grand do breakfast in style.

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There’s a buffet table with cold and hot options, and the chance to order off the menu. For us, there was so much choice at the buffet table that we didn’t deem it necessary to order off the menu. Highlights included the warm croissant with butter and strawberry jam, and the smoky bacon with excellent herby, clearly high-quality sausages. The breakfast kept us filled up until well into the afternoon.

Our departure was as seamless as our arrival, with our car brought out to the front at the time we’d specified upon check-in.

The Grand deserves its status as York’s only five star hotel. The service and atmosphere is second to none, and the spa and dining options enhance its appeal and help to explain why it was fully occupied on a cold weekend in early February.

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