One of my missions this year is to build a few more treats into my life. It was beginning to feel a bit like Groundhog Day. Work, eat, swim, sleep, repeat. Yawn. I’ve already made a slam bang start with a Friday night stay at The Principal York, which used to be known as The Royal Hotel until a makeover by interior architects Goddard Littlefair. Now, the late Victorian landmark has a glamorous new look and a growing fan base.
It’s the perfect choice for those arriving by rail as it’s right next to the station and it’s huge so you can’t miss it. We hopped on the train from Leeds and were at the hotel reception half-an-hour later. We were too early for check-in and asked if they would look after our bags while we had a wander round York. This included another little treat – lunch at “veggie heaven” aka the Goji cafe, deli and restaurant on Goodramgate, which specialises in vegetarian and vegan food. It’s amazing.
We were met with a lovely surprise when we got back to The Principal. The exceptionally friendly and helpful reception staff, who deserve all the rave reviews they get on Trip Advisor, told us we had been upgraded from a double room to a junior suite. I was keen to swan about in it and my partner was desperate for a rest after I’d dragged him round the sales but the decor demanded attention.
The interiors in this grand old hotel are sensational and the designers have been sensitive to the building’s heritage and its period features. The style is opulent country house – chandeliers, chesterfields, gilded mirrors and oil paintings with some gorgeous big communal rooms for lounging in. The atmosphere is warm and relaxed.
The bedrooms – there are over 100 – are classic contemporary in style with supremely comfy beds. Again, the decor is excellent but is over-shadowed by the view. Many of the rooms have Minster views and our windows framed it perfectly.
Nice touches include vintage books on the fireplace, the bright red retro phone and the tuck box with retro sweets, including a drumstick lolly.
Dinner in the hotel’s Refectory Kitchen restaurant was good and the place was busy – always a good sign. A couple of wines later and I couldn’t be bothered to go out on the town so we retired to the hotel bar – also open to the public – which was dark, cosy and atmospheric with some excellent gin. The couple of young musicians, who put their own spin on cover versions, were brilliant and really made the night. Well done to the hotel for supporting local talent.
There’s a pool and gym at The Principal but we decided to lie-in and have a late breakfast before saying goodbye and promising to come back later in the year. As treats go, this is at the top end but I’m tempering that with some budget boosts. This weekend I’m of to see La La Land with a lovely friend who loves musicals as much as I do.