I’m a bit fed up with the word ’boutique’, it’s had it’s day in my book. Now, everyone from Linda Barker to some of the dodgier hotel chains are using it. But, it’s ubiquity means that we all know what to expect when a hotel advertises itself as boutique; Frette linen, an honesty bar, usually a fair amount of damask print wallpaper. I’m sure you can add to this list.
As my London friends know me as ‘her in the North’, I’m often asked to act as an unofficial tourist guide for York and Yorkshire. Being such a popular place for a weekend break, I’m always interested in going to visit new places and hunting out the perfect places for friends of friends to stay in, mentally checking off their attributes for future reference.
Maybe it’s part of the ‘make do and mend’ trend that’s come out of the recession, but I think people are looking less for sleekness and more for value for money, fresh individuality and charm at all budget levels. Whether the places I recommend bill themselves as ’boutique’ or not, I think they are are individual and I hope this list is useful to those planning a visit. Please do let me know what you think.
Best for quirkiness
La Rosa in Whitby bill themselves as ‘more Boudoir than Boutique’ – their selection of themed rooms sounds great and I have only heard good things about it. The Guardian describes it as “magical”. Pick from Lewis Carroll (he stayed here), the Saloon or the Stoker (inspired by Stoker’s view of Whitby) and more. Prices from £86 per room. Group bookings available.
Best for families
With family rooms from £69, The York Priory Guesthouse is set away from the hustle and bustle of the City Centre, but still only a ten minute walk from attractions such as the York Castle Museum. They have lovely gardens for children to explore and being set near the river, Rowntrees Park is just across the Millenium Bridge for park activities; the ususal swings for younger children plus a zip wire and skating park for older children.
Best for romance
Wuthering Heights is synonomous with romance. Go to Haworth and stay at Weavers, close to the Bronte Museum & Parsonage, it’s both a restaurant and unique hotel which will transport you back in time.
I haven’t been yet, but I’m keeping everything crossed that my husband might take me to Austwick Hall in Settle soon. It’s beautiful gardens, and sumptuous rooms look like the perfect place for a bit of romance.
Best for a girls shopping break
From the high-end Harvey Nichols and Victoria Quarter to the more unusual shops around the Corn Exchange and markets, Leeds is definitely top of the shops in Yorkshire. 42 the Calls is perfectly positioned on the River Aire, a stones throw from the Victoria Quarter. It’s a special place to stay.
Best for luxury in the country
The Sportsmans Arms, near Wath is a beautiful walk away from Pately Bridge with a glorious garden and a very good restaurant. Also highly recommended areThe Star Inn at Harome, which also boasts a Michelin star and the Devonshire Arms, near Skipton.
Best for budget in the country
The Lion Inn, the highest building on the North York Moors is a good place to get snowed in! It happened to us, visiting a few years ago. Hearty food and a unique positioning, it’s cosy and wild and offers superb value for money. Over in the Dales, the New Inn at Clapham is a good base for exploring the nearby waterfalls and Ingleborough. The owner used to be in Shawaddywaddy so expect to see lots of memorabilia in the bar!
Best for a group in York
Best for foodies
A stay at The White Bear Hotel in Masham means you are well-placed for some foodie treats. The enticing individual shops that are flourishing in Masham, the Black Sheep Brewery, perhaps a visit to the Wensleydale Creamery.