When your best friend, who is resident in Sydney, is back home for a couple of weeks to try on wedding dresses and check out the venue for her upcoming nuptials, that calls for a celebration.
As Lucy’s bridal boutique of choice was in York, we decided to go for a spa break in Yorkshire. Turns out it is nigh on impossible to find a spa hotel in Yorkshire with rooms that sleep three people. (Our other schoolfriend and fellow bridesmaid Charlotte was also in tow). I called on one of my netball friends – who now lives in York – for some recommendations and they were so good that I’ve included a couple more below.
The hotel that we went for was the Feversham Arms in Helmsley. The décor reminded me of some Scottish lodge – all tartan and cosy blankets – but the outdoor heated pool was straight out of the Mediterranean.
After all the searching for the perfect spa hotel we didn’t bloody book a treatment in advance. This was a silly mistake because by the time we arrived the treatments were fully booked, however we did make the most of the sauna, aromatherapy room and outdoor Jacuzzi.
Helmsley itself was the sweetest little country village and we had planned to spend our Saturday morning exploring but another dip in the pool was just too appealing. We saw loads of walkers coming back from their hikes across the Dales and North Yorkshire Moors and if I was to go back I will definitely be taking walking boots.
No trip to York is complete without afternoon tea at Betty’s. We pre-booked the Lady Betty Afternoon Tea as a surprise for our bride-to-be and I’m bloody glad we did because people were queuing around the block to get a table. Apparently it’s as popular with locals as it is with tourists. And if your mum/nan/auntie has a birthday coming up then it’s worth checking out the gorgeous hampers in the gift shop at Betty’s.
There were recommendations aplenty from you lovely RMS Instagram followers for eateries. Apparently Fossgate and Bishy Rd are the places to eat: check out The Pig and Pastry, Robinsons Café or Joe’s Kitchen for brunch, Mannion & Co or Café No8 for lunch, Sotanos or Cosy Club for cocktails, and Brew & Brownie for, erm, brews and brownies.
York has such a buzzy, vibrant atmosphere that you could quite easily spend a whole weekend and very little money just meandering in and out the quirky little shops and exploring its cobbled streets. It is a history buff’s dream: The Minster is just awe inspiring and York Castle is #2 in the Tripadvisor top ten things to do in York. (In case you’re wondering, #1 is the Railway Museum – I’d love to take Lyra).
By the time we had scoffed afternoon tea and ooh-ed and aah-ed Lucy in her wedding dress we didn’t have much time left, however we did have time to check out the Mulberry outlet store and nip in to the Grand Hotel for a cheeky glass of prosecco. I defy you to say “The Grand Hotel of York” without singing “Ohhh, the Grand Old Duke of York” in your head. The Grand certainly lives up to its name and its inky walls, plush velvet sofas and brass accessories nearly persuaded me to head over to the dark side and redecorate my house in Down Pipe.
What are your favourite haunts in York? Are you a fan of a spa break?
Images of Middleton Lodge by Stan Seaton
Images of The Feversham Arms via Mr and Mrs Smith
Images of Rudding Park