Katy Wheeler tries out one of York’s oldest hotels that’s so grand they named it just that.
For the past 100 years The Grand has stood proudly in York’s skyline, rubbing shoulders with the city’s historic walls.
When it was built by the North Eastern Railway Company in 1906 they really meant business, literally. The spectacular example of fine Edwardian architecture was constructed as a ‘palace of business’ to exemplify the wealth of one of the richest industries in Britain.
Though our once-great railways have gone off track in recent decades, the Grade II-listed Grand is still going strong and harks back to the decadence of those times.
It must be one of the only hotels in York to still have a black hat and tails-wearing concierge who offers a warm welcome as you enter the hotel’s magnificently elegant doorway with its intricately-carved stonework that transports you back to the golden age. They certainly don’t make hotels like this anymore.
The luxury continues inside with marble work, opulent staircases with metal balustrades and huge corridors as big as a boulevard – no wonder this is the only five star hotel for miles.
To earn those five stars you’ve got to offer something a little bit special, and The Grand’s rooms are huge for a city centre hotel with acres of space and high ceilings in its 107 bedrooms that typify the grandeur of turn of the nineteenth century buildings.
Future guests can also look forward to new and improved rooms, with another 100 luxury rooms being opened early next year as part of its £15m expansion.
Its location, a hop, skip from York Station, makes it perfect for people travelling here by train, but, in typical York fashion, parking is at a premium and there are only pay station car parks nearby.
Rather than just being a place to rest your head while you explore the city of York, which lies practically on the doorstep of the hotel, The Grand itself offers plenty to entertain guests.
Head to the hotel’s basement to enjoy its spa facilities. This subterranean spot for relaxation is surprisingly large for a city centre spa, especially in a city as tight for space as York.
Expect atmospheric low lighting and an oasis of calm in this well-stocked spa, which offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city’s well-trodden cobbled streets.
Though it’s not quite as spectacular as some of the more contemporary, Scandi-inspired spas out there, it’s still better than your average hotel offering with a range of treatments using ESPA products, as well as facilities including a swimming pool, jacuzzi and steam room.
•For more information on The Grand Hotel and Spa visit www.thegrandyork.co.uk Rooms at The Grand are available from around £200, depending on date and room type.
It’s not just the rooms which will be the jewel in the crown of the hotel’s £15million-worth of improvements, The Grand has also upped the ante with its food offering.
This summer saw the opening of The Rise, a Yorkshire tapas-style small plates concept, and the refurbishment and relocation of Hudsons by Craig Atchinson, The Grand’s three-AA-rosette fine dining restaurant.
Covers have been cut from 60 to 28 in the Hudson’s room to allow for a greater focus on the intricacies of the food. After a Saturday afternoon well spent in the spa, we took our seats in the new site, a charming corner of the hotel with bucket loads of period charm, including an Art Nouveau-style fireplace, panelled walls and huge windows overlooking the river. It’s perfect for an occasion meal or a candle-lit romantic meal for two and is one of the few places in York that offers such fine dining.
Craig sources local ingredients to craft a nine-course tasting menu that doffs its cap to its Yorkshire home.
He’s taken his culinary inspiration from wild Yorkshire and thrown in a luxury twist, a theme which is echoed in the table settings which feature specially-commissioned vases crafted by a local potter to hold wild flowers and herbs picked by the kitchen’s forager.
Appetites fully whetted with snacks of smoked roe, seaweed and buckthorn, we began our foodie foray into the wilds of Yorkshire with a course of Duke of York potato, which had been given a beautifully velvety texture which contrasted well with the more intense flavours of tarragon, shallot and crispy bacon.
Next up, we enjoyed a pretty-as-a-picture dish of tunworth served with vine ripened tomatoes that were plump with flavour, served with bone marrow and chicory – all topped off with edible, vibrant flowers. I’m not usually a fan of over-flowery decoration, but this was executed in a classy fashion.
More dishes followed – this is a tasting menu that requires a good few hours of indulgent eating – including sea trout, kohlrabi, garlic, watercress; venison, beetroot, grilled lettuce, violet mustard; North Atlantic stone bass, langoustine, fennel and buckwheat; glazed beef cheek, hen of the woods, horseradish, alliums, truffle; sheeps milk, fig and almond and, finally, if you can fit it in, Yorkshire blackberries with pear, buttermilk and brown butter.
Hard to pick a favourite from what was very possibly the best meal I’ve eaten in York, but the venison may just have the edge. The tender meat was melt-in-the-mouth good and its buttery texture contrasted perfectly with the tart of the beetroot.
Special mention must also go to the charismatic front of house staff member who paired our wines, each accompanying tipple had been well thought through and had a tale to tell making this a real meal to remember.
•The new tasting menu at Hudsons is priced at £70 per person. Wine pairing can be added for an additional £40 per person.
We’ve teamed up with The Grand to give away an afternoon tea for two at the hotel.
Winners can choose from:
•Grand Afternoon Tea, worth £25.50 per person
•Champagne Afternoon Tea, worth £38 per person
•Hendrick’s Tipsy G&Tea, worth £31.50 per person
The winner can redeem their prize any time in 2018, depending on availability at The Grand.
To be in with a chance of winning, answer this question:
Which of these rivers runs through York?
A) The Tees
B) The Tweed
C) The Ouse
Send your answers and full contact details on a postcard to:
The Grand Competition, Katy Wheeler, Johnston Press North East, 2nd Floor, Alexander House. 1 Mandarin Road, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton, Sunderland, DH4 5RA.
Alternatively, you can email your answer and contact details to Katy.Wheeler@jpress.co.uk
Closing date: December 20.