When I was invited to experience a 2 night break away with Travelodge, three thoughts crossed my mind:
- This definitely ties in with my New Year's Resolution of more travel!
- Travelodge, though..? I'm not so sure..
- Oh go on.. sign me up & prove me wrong!
A month or so later I was on my way down to York on the train on a Friday night with my flat-wife Gillian for a weekend filled with fun, frivolity and food. All the best 'f's.
On arriving into York station around 2 and half hours later from Edinburgh, we packed up bleary-eyed - after a few cocktails-in-a-can (M&S' finest) - and made our way to the taxi rank to seek out a restaurant I'd booked for 8pm. It turns out, however, I am too good at picking new under-the-radar bars and restaurants, as not even our taxi driver had a bleedin' clue where we were off to. On giving him the address, he exclaimed "in all my 20 years, I've never not known where someone was going in York". Oops.
Enter Winner Winner; a new American-themed restaurant by the water's edge. This place definitely called out to me from Trip Advisor when I was writing down ideas for our trip. American food? Check. Cocktails? Check. Cosy hideaway? Check! Gillian opted for the Winner Winner Chicken Dinner (one of my favourite phrases..); which was crispy coated buttermilk chicken on a bed of sweet waffles with maple syrup. I had the Sloppy Joe burger, which was more like a hot dog, consisting of chilli, cheese and chipotle sour cream. Yum. We both had a few excellent cocktails in tiki mugs and then made our way to check in at York Central at 10pm..
So, we'd known in advance that our twin room would be a disabled room, as apparently they are the only rooms able to be switched to this. This was fine by us as more room for activities anyway..
I had to!
After a good sleep, we got up and wandered sleepily around looking for breakfast.. turns out, breakfast was a rather anti-climatic breakfast box filled with some cold snacks, cereal and orange juice. I'd recommend booking a Travelodge with a Bar Cafe inside (such as the nearby York Central Micklegate) if you prefer a cooked breakfast option, but if breakfast isn't important to you and you're intending to be out all day, then this won't be a problem.
We strolled over to York Castle Museum after breakfast and spent a couple of hours walking around. I'd visited years ago as a child so it was nice to come back and experience it as an adult. I had all these lovely memories of the Victorian street with shops like the milliners, the chemists and the sweet shop which were so cute to see again. They also had a couple of special exhibitions on: the First World War and the '60s. Gillian was in her element during the war section (I loved the female war poets exhibit though - so beautiful), whereas I was cooing over all of the original Mary Quant beauty bits, Biba dresses, Beatles memorabilia and women's liberation stories. They even had my dad's original Pentax camera on display, which I spent much of my early teens snapping pictures on. I recommend York Castle Museum if you're ever around. 16-24 year olds get discounted tickets too! Wins all round.
Next up, we wandered up the Shambles and, after a couple of naughty purchases in Joy, we headed up to York Minster and spent time admiring the architecture. It really is breathtaking, and I'd forgotten how huge it is, in my memories of being herded around on a school trip as a little 'un. Such a nice clear day too.
We decided to go in search of a bar to chill out for a while before going back to our room before dinner. We chose Kennedy's because, unfortunately, our top two options Evil Eye Lounge and House of Trembling Madness were both super busy (boo!). But it meant we got to sit up on the roof-top patio, so that was a bonus! After a quick scroll on Yelp and some excellent reviews, I booked the Blue Bicycle for dinner later on that evening. And, boy, did that one hit the mark!
I opted for the confit chicken and sage to start and the Gressingham duck, sweet potato puree, buttered kale and black pudding as my main. Me and Gillian then shared a trio of mini puddings and a bottle of wine. Oh my gosh, this place was beautiful. The presentation was outstanding and the location was wonderful with an air of mystery due to its rather questionable former guise as a brothel (which the menu plays on with its images inside.. a little risqué!). And, most importantly, the food tasted superb. I'd recommend it if you want an elegant, beautiful and indulgent dinner. Perfect for date night!
After a few cocktails post-dinner, we got back into bed and woke up refreshed and ready to - rather begrudgingly - head home on the Sunday afternoon. However, we had just one more treat in store before stepping foot on the train. I'd booked us in for a rather grand afternoon tea in the aptly named Grand Hotel in York. It's situated pretty much next to the train station, so was perfectly located for us. We had the most wonderful waiter tend to us too! If you ever meet Sahbi, you will love him. On hearing we were from Scotland, he shared stories of his time in Edinburgh and how friendly the people are. So welcoming and a lovely personal touch to our afternoon. The cakes, scones and sandwiches were beautiful too and I opted for the jasmine green tea (as per) which was delicious and presented with such attention to detail.
All in all, a lovely weekend to kick-start springtime. I'm really happy that the invite dropped into my inbox when it did... and, if you're wondering, Travelodge did exceed my expectations. Other than the lacklustre breakfast options (which were more just a fault with this particular hotel branch, rather than a chain-wide problem), the bed was the comfiest I've slept in for ages and it was clean, tidy and spacious. Just what you want when you're looking for somewhere to lay your head after all the adventuring is done for the day.
Interested in a visit to York this year? You can find places to stay nearby with Travelodge here.
Have you been to York before? Let me know what you thought!
Disclaimer: My hotel stay and breakfast was kindly provided by Travelodge, but all other expenses (e.g. transport and other meals) were paid for by myself. All opinions expressed within this post are my own, and I have not been sponsored to write this post.