Velvety hot chocolate, tangy chocolate orange, melt-in-the-mouth éclairs…! Salivating yet? If like me, chocolate makes life’s bad days a little more manageable for you, then a visit to York is definitely something to consider!
While other northern centres made their wealth from wool, cotton and steel, York went its own sweet way and built a city from chocolate. York truly is the home of chocolate and this great tradition continues to this day. All over the city are echoes of York's chocolate past.
I excitedly visited York for the first time in July. First on my whirlwind tour of the beautiful city was York’s CHOCOLATE Story, located in the heart of York. This attraction provides groups with an entertaining and informative guided tour through the history of York’s most famous chocolate-making families and their finest creations. Groups can discover chocolate’s origins, how to make it, how to taste it like an expert and even the sustainable future of chocolate.
There is so much to see, including live chocolate-making demonstration from skilled chocolatiers in the Chocolate Kitchen and a host of fascinating chocolate artefacts. I even managed to get involved and made my own chocolates at the Chocolate-Making Station in the Factory Zone. Once I had thoroughly explored chocolate-making and its history, I spoilt myself further by indulging in the finest chocolate to be had in the attraction’s café and shop!
If a visit to York’s CHOCOLATE story isn’t enough, why not Rolo on down and follow the York chocolate trail. This takes visitors on a discovery journey of how chocolate shaped York and includes an array of themed cafés and individual chocolate shops all around the city. If you love chocolate, York is the place to indulge your passion. Self-guided tours are available for download on www.visityork.org
For a full weekend of indulgence, a stay at the Cedar Court Grand Hotel is essential. It is York's first 5 star hotel and the only 5 star hotel in Yorkshire, so from the sumptuous suites to the award-winning restaurant to the opulent Spa, each detail is designed to delight. The Grand is an historic hotel in an historic city. I was the latest in a long line of visitors - York has welcomed Vikings, Romans and medieval knights. Grand by name, grand by nature - the building impresses as much now as it did 100 years ago, when it was built as the Yorkshire headquarters of the North Eastern Railway.
This may be a luxury 5 star hotel, but for however long you stay it's your home; I certainly didn’t want to leave. It is easy to find your own special corner - a snug leather armchair in the Whisky Lounge, a table on the terrace, a lounger in the spa! Afternoon tea is a great British tradition, and the Cedar Court has revived it with style, panache and a deep appreciation of history. Sample their Grand Afternoon Tea - and enjoy a dining experience which is as much a treat for the eyes as it is for the tastebuds.
The Grand has 107 bedrooms, including 13 suites and a lavish penthouse. As a Grade II listed building, many of the original features remain; these include beautiful mosaic tiling, parquet floors and wood-panelled meeting rooms, which hosted Discover York last year.
The Grand is also home to Spa at the Grand, one of Yorkshire’s most luxurious spas. Set in the building’s atmospheric vaults, the spa offers a range of therapeutic face and body treatments, and guests also have access to the gym, sauna, swimming pool, steam room and relaxation rooms which I sadly didn’t have time to make use of. My visit to York was filled with indulgence and gluttony and of course followed by a crash diet, but I’m already planning another visit for the Christmas markets!
Over the next few months, UKinbound are hosting two ‘Discover’ workshops, in partnership with VisitBritain, exploring Scotland and Wales. We invite all local suppliers to engage with our tour operator members and there will also be a fam trip- visit www.ukinbound.org for more details.