What to do in York? My 24 hour guide

The Judges Lodging York

Looking to take a city break in York, but don’t know what to do? You’re in luck, I recently visited and here is my what to do in York guide – featuring Betty’s Tearooms, Vegan Cafe’s and lots of cocktails.

Where to stay in York?

After a recommendation from a friend, we decided to check out the Judges Lodging, a restored Georgian townhouse based in the city centre. After a quick look over some TripAdvisor reviews, we decided to book it. The hotel is a 5-minute walk from York Minster and Betty’s tea room, with various shops, cafes, and bars on its doorstep.

The Judges Lodging offer two types of rooms, with 21 guest rooms within the main building and 5 terrace rooms at the rear of the building. We decided on a terrace room, as I knew we would be out on the terrace in the evening and so, would only be a stone throw away from our room. This is something to keep in mind when booking a terrace room, they are situated outside right next to the outdoor eating area, so be prepared to hear the people outside your room in the evening. With this being said, there are restrictions and people are asked to keep the noise down for guests in these rooms. We didn’t have a problem with it at all, as we were out of our room exploring York until the early hours of the morning and so heard nothing once we arrived back to our room. I liked the idea of having our own front door, being secluded from the main building, yet only a couple of steps from the bar.

Terrace room judges lodging

The terrace room had a clean, fresh design, with underfloor heating in the bathroom area. A TV, dressing table – which I found a nice touch when getting ready for the night, a king size bed, sofa, a kettle and radio – we couldn’t fault our room. The only slight issue we found that there was no milk/fridge area provided, so we had to have green tea in the morning rather than the Yorkshire tea that they supplied. This wasn’t a major issue as we didn’t stay in the room long enough in the morning, but for some, this could be quite annoying, especially if you like your morning cuppa!

Terrace rooms the judges lodging

The breakfast provided by the hotel looked tasty – we didn’t get up in time for it unfortunately (too many cocktails the night before) but from what we had seen, they offered a nice mix of both continental and cooked, with plenty of fresh juice, tea and coffee to wash it down with. We did, however, get to sample the bar area which offered a pleasant area to sit and enjoy both food and drink throughout the day and evening. The hotel does seem to be a popular choice for the residents of York too and can get quite busy throughout the day with people popping in for their lunch/dinner or a couple of cocktails. I always think this is a good sign, if its popular with the locals, it must be a hit! Next time we visit we will definitely be trying out some of the food, it looks delicious.

Where to eat in York?

York is filled with bakeries, restaurants, little quirky cafes and plenty of bars to keep you busy throughout your visit. I have to admit, trying out the food had to be my favourite part of the stay.

El Piano

El Piano has been going since 1997 and offers a plant-based, gluten-free organic food experience, using local organic produce. I have heard great things about El Piano before visiting York, so it was a must for our lunch. Being vegetarian, I love finding restaurants and cafes solely focusing on plant-based foods. This gives us such a great menu and a vast amount of choices – rather than the standard restaurant that only offers a handful of meat-free meals.

Where to eat in york - El Piano

The menu offered a build your own plate dish, asking you to choose a hot dish, fritter and cold salad. We could not decide what to order, so decided to opt for the ‘Taster Tray’ to share. This cost £33.95 and served 2-3 people, (although Bob and I finished it off with no problems.) This tray included all of the hot dishes, fritters and green salads, served in a tapas style. When it arrived we were extremely impressed, it tasted amazing! My favourite being the paella and their homemade vegan chorizo. I would highly recommend this cafe, regardless of being vegan or not, it definitely opens your eyes to the huge choice of tasty plant-based foods on offer. Next time we visit York, I will be returning to try out their ‘Bob’s Best Burger’, someone next to us had this and it looked huge!

Where to eat in York - Vegan

Bettys Café Tea Rooms 

I love brunch, afternoon tea and vanilla slices, so a trip to the iconic Betty’s Tea Room whilst visting York seemed like a must do. Situated on St Helen’s Square and only a short walk from the Judges Lodging, we decided to visit the 2nd day, before heading off home for some brunch.

Bettys tea rooms York

Being in Betty’s, I was going to order the iconic afternoon tea, as it did look divine. However, we arrived at Betty’s around 10:30am with a major craving for eggs and not finger sandwiches, so I didn’t get to sample their afternoon tea offering. I did, however, order the florentine breakfast rosti –  a classic Swiss rosti made with grated potato, cheese, and cream, served with spinach poached egg and mushrooms.
Brunch at bettys tea rooms
Of course, we had to sample the pastries for afters, opting for a vanilla slice with berries, served with a large pot of English tea. Betty’s did not disappoint, yes it is rather pricey and not a place you could eat brunch at every day, but for a one off it’s definitely worth a visit. Even just for a cake and a pot of tea, the service is incredible too!

vanilla slice bettys tea room york

For further options, I found a great article on the Telegraph, which offers an insider’s guide to the best places to eat in York and mentions Melton’s Resturant, Cafe’ no8 BistroThe Blue Bicycle, The Hairy Fig and more. As well as these independent restaurants, you can find various chain restaurants in York, with Jamie Olivers Italian, Piccolino, Frankie and Benny’s, La Tasca, Turtle Bay and Pizza Express to name a few. If you fancy pastries or pies throughout the day, you will find numerous bakeries in the city centre so watch out for them.

Where to drink in York?

Cocktail bar York

Apparently, you can find over 350 pubs/bars in York, with a diverse selection depending on what you are looking for. There’s a great article on CN Traveller, which is super useful, depending on what you want to do. This includes options for those looking for the best music scene, the best draft beer and even a list of historic haunted pubs – if that is your thing.

Bob and I, however, stuck to cocktail bars, consuming far too many of them on the way. We ended up in the Slug and Lettuce and Missoula, tempted by the buy one get one free cocktail menu.

What to do in York?

You can’t go to York without visiting York Minister, we had a walk around the grounds, but you can pay to take a tour of the inside if you have the time.
York Minister

Other popular tourist attractions include –

  • Clifford Tower
  • York Art Gallery
  • Yorkshire Museum
  • Castle Museum
  • The York Dungeon
  • The Railway Museum
  • York’s Chocolate Story
  • Take a walk around the Shambles, where you will find a range of shops.

As you can see, there is plenty to fit into your York break, so pick wisely. I hope this guide has started to give you an idea on how to spend a weekend in York.

Has anyone been and got any more tips?

Also – check out what I got up to on my latest Lake District visit.



Image credit – http://judgeslodgingyork.co.uk

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