The Grand, York: Steeples, stargazing and a historic hotel packed with charm

·6 min read
 (The Grand)
(The Grand)

Need an easy city-break to get you through the remaining months of winter? Jump on the train at King’s Cross and you can be soaking in one of The Grand’s bathtubs overlooking York’s iconic spires in less than two hours.

The five-star hotel sits right next to the city’s station and offers all the essentials for a romantic city break: cobbled shopping streets, historic attractions and afternoon tea next to a roaring fire for cosying up after a walk on the North York Moors.

Combine it with another city-break and make a (long) weekend of it: York is the perfect half-way pit-stop if you’re travelling from London to Edinburgh and it’s less than an hour to both Durham and Leeds if you fancy a day trip (or two).

From bowler-hatted doormen to stargazing adventures on the moors, here’s what to expect from a stay at The Grand.

Where is it?

Right next to York’s central station, just a two-minute walk once you’re off the train. The Grand sits right next to the city’s ancient wall and is a 10-minute walk from York’s famous Minster cathedral in the centre of the city. Book the right room and you’ll see York’s famous spires from bed.

The Shambles in York, one of the city’s main tourist street (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Archive)
The Shambles in York, one of the city’s main tourist street (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Archive)

Style

If stepping off the train into The Grand feels like something from an old railway movie (or something from new Gucci boy Francis Bourgeois’ TikTok’s), its history explains why. The iconic Edwardian building was built in the heyday of rail travel in 1906 and was once the headquarters of North Eastern Railway.

It became a hotel in 2010 and had a £15 million makeover in 2019, but still retains many of its historic features: tall Edwardian windows, grand arches and intricate oak panelling.

The hotel boasts 207 bedrooms and wide carpeted corridors, but there’s also a cosy, welcoming feel, with friendly bowler-hatted doormen at the entrance and warm maroon furnishings in the rooms.

 (The Grand)
(The Grand)

If you’re a sucker for Christmas magic, save your stay for late in the year: staff go all-out for the festive season, with chic lights all around the entrance, trees dotted around the hotel and mulled wine and mince pies on arrival.

Which room?

The Penthouse Suite, if you fancy the best views in the house (from a lavish freestanding bathtub). The 699-square-foot suite is the size of an apartment, with a king-size bed, his and hers walk-in rain-showers and separate lounge area, boasting panoramic views over the city walls.

Also among the hotel’s 207 rooms are slightly smaller Heritage Suites, each with their own open-plan lounge area; Grand Heritage Suites with Edwardian decor; and a range of rooms from Executive for business travellers to Grand Family, designed for a family of four.

 (The grand)
(The grand)

Expect Nespresso coffee machines, Molton Brown toiletries and elegant original features in many of the rooms, depending which half of the hotel you choose to stay in. There are two room styles available: older rooms in the Heritage wing, with classic historic features, or more contemporary rooms in the Roman wing, with a modern, more uniform style (top tip: ask for Suite 454 in the Roman wing if you fancy floor-to-ceiling windows across three of the four walls).

Food & drink

A stay in Yorkshire wouldn’t be a stay in Yorkshire without afternoon tea and - thankfully - The Grand does it the proper way, with delicate finger sandwiches and fluffy scones presented on a silver stand and a Masons of Yorkshire “Tipsy Afternoon G&T” upgrade option if you fancy an added distillery visit and gin tasting.

Enjoy a traditional Yorkshire breakfast the next morning (think cured bacon, Cumberland sausage and button mushrooms), check into the 1906 bar for champagne, martini cocktails or a glass of whisky, and book in for dinner The Rise, the hotel’s AA Rosette-awarded restaurant, which offers modern British food that’s locally sourced.

 (The Grand)
(The Grand)

Yorkshire venison is served with chestnut puree and pickled blackberries, pork belly comes with glazed brioche and spiced cranberry chutney, and the vegan roasted butternut squash is served with sesame-fried Brussel sprouts and laksa sauce. The Grand Sbagliato, the restaurant’s signature cocktail made with Vermouth and grapefruit, is a must if you like your fizz.

Facilities

There’s a courtyard, a private dining room (Hudson’s), a Bake Off-style cookery school and even an in-house wedding planner (unsurprisingly, The Grand is one of the most in-demand event spaces in Yorkshire). But the jewel in the hotel’s crown is undoubtedly its spa: a luxury 14-metre pool, Nordic dry sauna, aromatic steam room and gym housed in the building’s former vaults.

Expect low-blue mood lighting, calming music and ancient sculptures – treatments include soothing body wraps, massages and manicures, and the hotel offers packages from an afternoon tea and spa deal to an I Love Weekends package, offering an overnight stay and leisurely morning including a full English breakfast, spa visit and late check out.

 (The Grand)
(The Grand)

Best for?

City-breakers, history fans and chocolate-lovers who fancy a train tour of the north. York is the birthplace of Nestle and Rowntree’s and has 300 years of chocolate history - there are designated chocolate tours if you fancy learning (and tasting) more.

It’s also home to the world-renowned train museum, the National Railway Museum, one of the UK’s top-rated attractions outside London, plus plenty of historic city tours, from hop-on-hop-off bus tours to city cruises along the River Ouse. Walking the full two-mile circumference of the surviving old city wall (with tea breaks en route) is the perfect way to spend an afternoon and get a feel for the city.

 (The Grand)
(The Grand)

How to get there

Take the train from King’s Cross and you can be at The Grand in under two hours. It’s a two-minute walk from station.

When should I go?

All year round, depending on your tolerance to winter in the north - but the most magical time to go is November or December, when thousands flock to the city every year for York’s famous Christmas markets. The Shambles, a medieval street that’s said to have been the inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter, looks particularly charming with its overhanging buildings and cobbled streets lit up with Christmas lights.

Book in for spring or summer if you’re planning a walking holiday in the Dales - The Grand makes the perfect base for exploring the Yorkshire countryside. The hotel’s popular Dark Skies Experience, a guided package with astronomer Richard Darn featuring a stargazing trip to the North York Moors and dinner back at the hotel, is a sellout every year.

Details

Rooms from £169 a night based on two sharing, Station Rise, York, thegrandyork.co.uk

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