A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being invited to York by Mercure Hotels, to spend a weekend in the beautiful city and stay in their Fairfield Manor Hotel. The trip was organised in collaboration with other bloggers. I was lucky enough to be able to ‘city swap’ with Bee from queenbeady.com. Bee travelled to Oxford (where I’m from and was living until the end of 2016) and I went to her hometown of York.
I’d visited York only once before. It was on New Year’s Eve, a long time ago, and all I remember about it was dancing away in a nightclub which played only 80s music. It was right up my street but, as you can imagine, not much sightseeing was done the following day. York was an important city in Roman times (its Roman name was Eboracum) and, as an ancient history graduate, I’ve always wanted to go back and spend some quality time there.
I imagined York to be a beautiful city, and it did not disappoint me.
Originally I meant to travel there with Sean, but we ended up having no one to feed the cat and so my mum was drafted in to come with me. We both enjoyed ourselves. The premise of the weekend was to not only try out the Fairfield Manor Hotel, but to also get involved with some of the recommended activities from our hometown blogger’s list.
Betty’s Tea Rooms
Top of the list of things we must do was to visit Betty’s Tea Rooms. Something of an institution in York, we knew we were in for a treat. The weekend we visited York was extremely cold and also drizzly, but when we walked up to the Tea Room on St Helen’s Square, a queue was waiting outside. We waited for half an hour, but the inside looked so inviting that we didn’t mind. I recommend you book though, if you plan a visit, as many others had booked and were of course able to just walk straight in.
The inside of the St Helen’s Square Betty’s is reminiscent of an Art Deco style. It was inspired by a trip its founder, Frederick Belmont, took on the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary. It has equally lovely food and staff. We were able to sit and watch the world go by extremely comfortably.
After this, we walked down to York Minster to take a look. This enormous gothic cathedral is so beautiful both outside and in.
It is definitely worth a visit. You can wander around the incredible building, take a tour of the Undercroft (underground chambers unearthed a few decades ago – fully interactive and with many artefacts on display), and climb the tower. Guided tours are also available. With the wealth of history contained within and underneath this site, it’s a picturesque cultural break from shopping and eating. Both those things are abundantly available in York, and are things mum and I happen to do well.
Wandering around the city…
We loved York for its laidback and friendly atmosphere, its winding cobbled streets and its endless supply of cosy tea rooms and pubs. There are so many corners to explore in York. We definitely did not make it all the way round in a full day. Particular points to note are the existence of the old city gates and parts of the walls which protected and enclosed York in days gone by. These grand landmarks remind you of the depth of history contained within the space of the city. A bit like Oxford, you often wonder as you walk around the streets what might actually be below the cobbles you’re standing on.
Mum on Google Maps trying to find Betty’s
York also had some of the best buskers I’ve ever heard! It contributes to the friendly and warm atmosphere, having people of real talent entertain you as you move from one area to the next. It also has awesome shopping, including one of the nicest Oliver Bonas shops I’ve ever found. It’s built in an old house, with numerous floors, staircases, nooks and crannies. Old fireplaces are in situ as well as carved built-in cupboards. (I picked up some earrings which I’m giving away at the bottom of this post – just scroll down and enter via the Gleam app).
Before heading to the hotel we finished up with a ghost tour. You’ll find signs around York advertising the tours, telling you where to turn up and when. I recommend it as it was a lot of fun. I didn’t get any photos of course, as it was dark!
The Fairfield Manor Hotel
We were shattered by this point. We wanted to get to the hotel to shower, change, eat and drink some wine. The Fairfield Manor Hotel is in a perfect location to explore York. I was pleased to find it very easily about 4 miles from the centre of York, up a long straight road. Set within its own six-acre grounds, it was built in the early 1800s. Used as a stud farm for most of its existence, it became a hotel relatively recently. Mercure have owned it since 2011.
It has its own car park and transport links to the centre of the city, making it the perfect base to explore from. The entrance is very grand, and there are sweeping staircases, a grand piano, and a large bar. We were kindly allocated a suite in the main building, which was very welcome as we really wanted to unwind.
We had booked a table for dinner when we checked in, and after a quick shower and change we headed to the bar for a bottle of red. It was a Friday night but was pretty quiet in the bar. However, the restaurant was very full and had a buzzing atmosphere. Our food was delicious, and a real high point of our stay. Breakfast the following morning, continental style, was also good. I took myself off to explore parts of the hotel. It has meeting rooms tucked away, extra staircases, enormous mirrors and is very quiet. I found myself in a room called The Library, which was indeed an old library complete with rows upon rows of books. It doubles up as a conference room. There are lots of places to sit in peace and unwind in the evenings, as there are rooms with large sofas dotted about.
In the morning, I really wanted to explore the hotel’s grounds but it was absolutely pouring down with rain. However, I noticed numerous picnic tables and benches. It looks like it would be a gorgeous place to sit in warmer months and admire the views of the countryside.
The Fairfield Manor Hotel was very comfortable, the staff very friendly, and the food excellent. Mercure Hotels have kept much of the character of this Georgian Manor House in the decor. This results in many parts of the hotel feeling a little dated, although in very good condition. If this doesn’t bother you, then I recommend this hotel as the perfect place to explore York city centre from and then escape back to for a cosy and comfortable lodging for the night. There is, however, also a more modern annexe to the main building. I didn’t see it, but the rooms there are more contemporary. I noticed as well that the hotel runs regular tribute nights. It would be a good place for a hen weekend or girly getaway when one of those nights is running.
Thank you to Mercure Hotels for giving me the opportunity to go back to such a beautiful city and experience it fully. I’d go back to York in a heartbeat, and in fact loved it so much I didn’t want to leave. There is so much to do, see and explore there. If you’re thinking of visiting York I hope this post helps you to make up your mind.
I’ve been away from blogging for a while. It’s been a weird and difficult year so far. I moved on December 16th from Oxfordshire to Gloucestershire, and continued working in Oxford for a couple of months. It was a four hour round commute each day (sometimes five). I was really looking forward to finishing work to become a full-time blogger (amongst other things, such as eBay reselling).
However, three days after my last day at work my fiance Sean went in to hospital with suspected viral encephalitis. Two weeks later, he finally came out of hospital but doctors now believe he had a stroke. He’s thirty nine, so this was a huge shock. We still don’t know the reason why it happened and are awaiting further results. Happily he has made a full recovery with the exception of a small amount of memory loss which should come back. He is on preventative medication and we are slowly going back to normal.
Soooo, this is the reason for the huge blogging break. It’s been so long, and I’ve not done a giveaway for a long time. I love to run giveaways., so I’m giving away a pair of Oliver Bonas Kauri Enamel Dot Hoop Earrings. I got the same pair for myself while in York. They are gorgeous in person, 4cm long and dangle from behind the ear. The black enamel circle shows at the front.
Entries are via the Gleam app below. The giveaway is open until midnight on Sunday 23 April, and I will announce the winner shortly after. It’s open internationally.
Thanks for visiting, and good luck!!
Oliver Bonas Kauri Enamel Dot Hoop Earrings Giveaway
Note: this post is in collaboration with Mercure Hotels who kindly sponsored my stay in York. All opinions expressed herein are my own. The giveaway is not associated with any collaboration and I purchased the prize with my own money.
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