There's plenty to explore in historic York, as Cheryl Mullin discovered in a visit to one of Britain's most romantic hotels...
It had been years since I last visited York, many more than I cared to think about.
So with a long weekend coming up, my husband and I decided to hit the road and reacquaint ourselves with this wonderful city.
We’d decided to try out the Mercure York Fairfield Manor Hotel, as it was perfectly placed just on the outskirts of York. Great for a restful stay away from the crowds, yet close enough to jump on the park and ride into the city centre.
Nestled in six acres of private grounds, the Fairfield Manor Hotel had many a surprise waiting for us.
As we checked into the hotel, we did so in an elegant, contemporary building. But as we made the way to our room, the modern building seamlessly gave way to a stunning 18th century manor house complete with a sweeping oak staircase and heavy oak doors.
No wonder it has a reputation for being one of the UK’s most romantic hotels.
We were lucky to be in one of the hotel’s privilege rooms, which had a spacious lounge area, as well as a bedroom with a huge double bed and a bathroom.
The room was packed with little luxuries, including robes and slippers and a Nespresso coffee machine which my husband fell instantly in love with.
Tired from our long drive to the hotel, we decide to have our evening meal in our room. The menu for room service was surprisingly varied. My husband tucked into a rare fillet steak, with chips and onion rings while I enjoyed a mushroom tagliatelle washed down with a large, chilled glass of rosé.
The following morning the buffet breakfast was one of the best I’ve sampled. Satisfyingly full, we headed back to our room for coats and, unfortunately, umbrellas to head into York.
A ten-minute walk from the hotel was the park and ride, which for £2.60 return deposited us right in the heart of city. We headed immediately for the Shambles, York’s famous shopping street stuffed with overhanging timber-framed buildings which house an eclectic mix of independent stores and high street names. Offering some shelter from the rain, we spent the morning perusing the shops and stopping for a pot of tea and a cheeky cream cake in one of the many quaint cafés.
As the rain eased and the sun made a reappearance, we headed to the cathedral which dominates the heart of the city.
York Minster is one of Northern Europe’s largest cathedrals, with parts of the building dating back to 1230 and it is simply stunning. From the beautiful stained glass windows, to the historic artefacts and awe-inspiring architecture, there is plenty to see.
Entry was a little pricey at £15 each, but the ticket covered us for the Minster and the Tower which, after trudging up 275 steps, offers breathtaking views out across the city and the Yorkshire countryside beyond.
After an afternoon of culture, we headed back to the bus stop to catch our lift back to the hotel.
Having already sampled the hotel food, we decided to have dinner at the Fairfield Manor’s restaurant which was offering a fantastic deal of three courses plus a glass of wine for £20. We had soup for starters and enjoyed mains of roasted vegetable risotto and a rare sirloin steak. For dessert we both plumped for the cheesecake – which was heavenly, and was washed down with a chilled glass of house rosé and house red.
It was a delicious meal and fabulous value for money.
After a drink in the hotel bar, we retired to our room for the night tired but relaxed and promising we wouldn’t leave it too long before visiting York again.
Cheryl Mullin stayed in York as a guest of the Mercure York Fairfield Manor, Shipton Road, York.
Rooms are available from £80 per night, with B&B available from £110.
Visit www.mercureyork.co.uk or call 0844 815 9038.
For general tourism advice, see www.visityork.org