More York Reviews

Finishing the reviews of things we did in York last weekend.

The Biltmore
Had a bit of a lucky escape here, to be honest. We walked past one lunchtime and it looked nice so we went in and booked a table for that evening. It took them ages to find someone who knew how to take our booking and we were on the verge of walking out. When we got there in the evening, it was completely different. It was like the set of Footballers’ Wives – full of really tacky and loud people desperately trying to impress each other. Not our kind of place at all. We changed our mind and walked out.

Four High Petergate
Having walked out of the Biltmore, we went here instead. And we were so glad that we did. This was exactly our kind of restaurant. Top quality modern British food served by knowledgeable and friendly staff. The place just exudes class from the second you walk in. It’s apparently a hotel too. We’ll definitely consider staying there the next time we’re in York.

It’s over thirty years since I was last in York. And Jorvik wasn’t there then, so I really wanted to go to see it. It was ok. I suppose that when it first opened it was revolutionary. But I’ve been on so many “dark rides” that they stop being exciting. I thought it was quite expensive for what it was. It would have probably seemed better value for money if we had spent more time in the bits of the exhibition after the ride. But it was quite crowded so we wanted to get out pretty quickly.

York Castle Museum
This was a bit of a spur of the moment thing. We saw the signs as we came out of Jorvik so we decided to have a look. And I’m really glad that we did. We spent about half an hour in Jorvik and for a pound less we spent about two hours in the castle museum. I particularly enjoyed their Sixties exhibition.

Nice little wine bar that we went into for lunch. Particularly enjoyable plate of nachos.

El Piano
Very interesting restaurant that we popped into for a quick bite before going off to the concert on Saturday evening. Almost like a tapas approach – all the food turns up on small wooden boats – but completely vegetarian. Another place where we would have spent more time had we discovered it earlier.

The Black Dyke Band
This was completely unplanned, but on our first evening wandering round the city we saw a poster advertising the Black Dyke Band playing in the Minster on Saturday night. It’s not really my kind of music but I thought that we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see one of the world’s best brass bands in such a great venue. We managed to get restricted view tickets for a tenner each. The concert was largely enjoyable – although we both agreed that it could have been a piece or two shorter. I was surprised at how much of the material was classical pieces. I didn’t realise there was such a bit crossover between brass bands and symphony orchestras.

York Art Gallery
It was raining heavily on Sunday morning, so to kill a couple of hours before our train left we decided to wander round the city art gallery. Unfortunately, it was the kind of art gallery that takes about half an hour to see. There was a big Stubbs exhibition on, which would have been great if you like Stubbs – which I don’t. There was an interesting exhibition about political cartoons and some nice stuff about still lifes. But it didn’t engage our attention for long enough so we ended up back in the Guy Fawkes Inn.


Reviews of York

We were in York last weekend, so here are some quick reviews of some of the things we did. Only time to do half of them today. More tomorrow.

Galtres Lodge
The hotel we stayed in. It can’t really be beaten for location. It’s right in the centre of York less than five minutes walk from the Minster in one direction and the Shambles in the other. Location is about all it has going for it though. The room we had was very small and cramped. When we first arrived we thought it didn’t have a toilet. Then we found it hidden in a cupboard. Had it cost us £50 or so a night we’d have been quite happy, but it was double that and not really worth it.

The Olde Starre Inn
Pretty much the first pub we came across and as it is the oldest pub in York we though we’d try it out. Not very impressed to be honest. It was a bit dingy and there was a strange smell. The selection of drinks was ok and the staff were friendly enough, but it didn’t have much of an atmosphere. Of course that might be because we were there at about 5pm on a Thursday afternoon.

The Bengal Brasserie
We quite fancied an Indian on our first night. The sign in the window said that this place had been listed as one of the thirty best curry houses in the UK. The award was in 2005. Things have obviously changed a bit. It wasn’t the worst curry we’d ever had, but I’m sure there were far better places to go.

The Old White Swan
We thought we were going for a quite drink. Then we saw the band setting up in the corner. Turned out it was a jazz band. Not a bad jazz band all in all, but we left when they started getting their mates up out of the audience to sing. It felt a bit like we were intruding on a private party. The pub seemed nice though. And their sausage selection looked very impressive. We would have gone back to try some if we hadn’t discovered the Guy Fawkes Inn.

National Railway Museum
Does exactly what it says on the can. Lots and lots of railway engines in a couple of huge rooms. And it’s free to get in, so you can’t say you don’t get your money’s worth. We spent an enjoyable hour or so there. They have a “Yorkshire Eye” there too. We didn’t bother with that.

St William’s Restaurant
We had a very nice lunch in the restaurant at St William’s College, which is attached to York Minster. Had it been just a little warmer, we would have sat out in the courtyard, which looked like a really nice place to spend an hour or so.

Richard III Museum
This was one of the highlights of the weekend. The tiny museum is in one of the gatehouses in the city wall. It’s a really strange museum, mainly because it doesn’t have any exhibits. Mostly, it consists of a load of posters on the wall which explain why you shouldn’t believe a word you read in Shakespeare’s play. It’s obviously a passion of the chap who set it up. On the day we went, he was manning the shop and was very pleased when my wife bought most of the stock to use as material in English lessons.

York Minster
Of course, no visit to York would be complete without a visit to the Minster. We bought the “see everything” ticket, which was cheaper than usual as the Treasury was closed for maintenance. Our ticket included a visit to the tower which involved climbing 275 steps up a really narrow spiral staircase. I’m glad I did it, but I won’t bother again. By the time I got to the top I was too knackered to really appreciate the view.

Guy Fawkes Inn
I didn’t know that Guy Fawkes was born in York. Apparently this is the house where he was born. It’s right in front of the Minster and therefore only a few minutes walk from our hotel. Once we discovered this place we didn’t visit any other pubs. It had a really nice atmosphere, very friendly and helpful staff, a decent selection of drinks and great food. I can’t really think of any way it could have been improved. Oh, and it’s a hotel too. So you can actually stay in the room where Guy Fawkes was born. Room 10, I’m told.