EL­IZ­A­BETH FORBES

Finds the perfect bite-sized holiday with a whistlestop tour of a York­shire city

Macclesfield Express - - TRAVEL -

HOW to have a short break when you only have one day off work.

Is it even pos­si­ble? It’s a tough one, but it is doable if you rethink the city break con­cept.

And our trip to York ful­filled that brief ex­actly.

York is close enough to reach eas­ily but far enough away to feel like you have had a break.

It had been a long time since I had vis­ited the great York­shire city and had fond mem­o­ries of its fine build­ings and her­itage.

And it was a rare treat to be set­ting off AF­TER a day’s work by hav­ing the ex­tra bonus of start­ing the trip with an overnight stay in a nice ho­tel.

Driv­ing across the Pen­nines at rush hour for a short break and do­ing some­thing out of the or­di­nary added to the feel of step­ping out­side of the daily rou­tine and adding a bit of lux­ury.

So be­fore we knew it the four of us – my hus­band, who had fin­ished work ear­lier, and two daugh­ters on school hol­i­days, were pulling into the car park of the Novo­tel, York. The charge for the car park hinted at its prox­im­ity to the city cen­tre but was also a wel­come place to leave the car dur­ing our stay.

De­spite the four star ho­tel be­ing part of a chain, the set­ting and vibe are def­i­nitely laid-back lux­ury. And you feel this as soon as you ap­proach it af­ter turn­ing off the main road.

There is a con­ti­nen­tal feel to the open re­cep­tion/ bar area and we were help­fully given a city cen­tre map and small toys/gifts are of­fered to all chil­dren.

Be­fore we know it - not much more than an hour af­ter leav­ing Greater Manch­ester - we have left the hum­drum be­hind and are check­ing into our clean and mod­ern family room, which has a flatscreen TV and all the usual fea­tures.

It’s early evening so first move is some­thing to eat…

With free wifi the phones are out look­ing for some­where to dine. I had al­ready done my re­search and knew there were plenty of res­tau­rants within easy walk­ing dis­tance; should we have Ital­ian, Chi­nese, Mex­i­can? When we hadn’t de­cided half an hour later, dis­tance sud­denly came into it… why don’t we dine here?

I took a bit of con­vinc­ing, want­ing to get out and have a look round, but when the dis­tance was de­scribed as less than 30 yards how could we say no?

The menu de­scrip­tions were per­fectly ac­cu­rate and the food made to a very good stan­dard with very large por­tions, which we re­ally en­joyed and strug­gled to fin­ish - and all for a rea­son­able £48. It was good value and not hav­ing to brave the chill au­tumn night was a real bonus.

We made use of the com­puter games set up in the spa­cious re­cep­tion area just out­side the res­tau­rant and there is a nice re­laxed at­mos­phere.

The fol­low­ing morn­ing the buf­fet break­fast was a real win­ner with a full English - as well as con­ti­nen­tal of­fer­ings - given five-star rat­ings by us all. The ho­tel also boasts a swim­ming pool for ex­tra re­lax­ation op­por­tu­ni­ties and has a play­ground, ideal for fam­i­lies with chil­dren of all ages.

In a great set­ting with a ter­race on the banks of the River Foss, you can take the short walk into the city cen­tre along the river’s banks. Map in hand, we opt to go along the road with one des­ti­na­tion in mind – York Min­ster - and be­fore we know it we are pass­ing the land­mark Clif­ford’s Tower and are into the shops.

Quaint streets with na­tional brands and bou­tique shops mean the walk up to see the Min­ster is punc­tu­ated with ‘we’ll stop in there on the way back’ at ev­ery turn. The aim is to get there then weave our way back around the shops, and we are there in no time.

And that is what is great about York, you can mix a look at all its cul­tural el­e­ments with a re­tail ex­pe­di­tion on foot without ven­tur­ing very far at all.

There are plenty of places to dine, sights to see and shop­ping to be had. Then car­ry­ing your pur­chases back to the ho­tel walk­ing along the river bank is not too much of a mis­sion.

But there are plenty of other ways to ex­plore – bus or boat tours, hire a cy­cle. And there are plenty of things to see and do – the Jorvik Vik­ing Cen­tre, dun­geons, theatre…

Fur­ther shop­ping op­por­tu­ni­ties lie a short drive out­side the city cen­tre at the York De­signer Out­let with a whole host of big names.

But what’s great about this city break is that when the shop­ping and sight­see­ing is fin­ished we are back this side of the Pen­nines, feel­ing like we have had a real break, in no time… this ‘day break’ thing could catch on.

The Novo­tel York has a laid-back lux­ury vibe

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