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