Shropshire Star

Travel review: Luxury stay in historic York

One of England's true historic delights, there is simply too much to see and do in York to fit into just one trip to Yorkshire's county town.

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York Castle Museum takes you back to the city as it was in the Victorian period

In fact, I was left feeling astonishment it had taken me 32 years to get to this idyllic feast of architecture, style and, of course, pubs.

You have two choices. Do you want to plan your trip with military precision to squeeze every ounce of touristy delight into your visit? Or do you just want to wander and see what you find?

Whatever your decision you need a York Pass card. For short stays, the York City Pass, priced form £25, gains you access to 25 city attractions. Then there's the York & Beyond Explorer Pass, priced from £65, which comes in a two, three or six-day format. This gains you entry to 45-plus attractions to really give you an in-depth view into what this glorious city is about.

Middletons comprises six buildings including Lady Anne House - a former hospital

We actually opted for the latter of the two choices. You can wander the old cobbled streets of York looking up open-mouthed at the ornate, so-close-you-could-jump-across building peaks for hours on end, recharging your batteries in one of the city centre's multiple pubs as you go.

And for a general overview of the city's rich history we opted to pop into the York Castle Museum. Here you can 'experience 400 years of fascinating social history', including a recreation of a cobbled Victorian street, and an old gaol that once housed the highwayman Dick Turpin.

There's also the story of how the First World War affected the people of York, and a special exhibition called the Museum of Broken Relationships that tells people's stories of those they have loved and lost during life - friends, lovers and family members. There was lots to see and do and costumes to try on - so even our one-year-old stayed interested for (almost) the whole experience.

The Sir Joseph Terry Cottages were named after a former Mayor of York

Another great way to see the city through the ages is via the picturesque and perfect-length City Sightseeing York bus, or the 'Hop On Hop Off' as they are commonly known.

This will take you out of the city centre confines and show you other parts of the city's history such as the racecourse and common ground used for storing the city's livestock and the chocolate and confectionary making dynasties of Terry's and Rowntree's. Tickets can be purchased in advance via their website.

There's also the City Cruises York company too who will take you along the River Ouse and show you the city from other perspectives such as the merchants who made their money bringing goods in by boat and getting them up to the markets.

The cottages provide a plush living space to enjoy while staying in York

There's plenty to eat, too. And one space with a difference is the food court located to the side of the historic shopping street The Shambles with its overhanging timber-framed buildings, some dating back as far as the 14th Century.

Here you'll find independent street food vendors serving up a variety of treats before heading into the Fantasy novel-esque Shambles to peruse the shops.

It has, of course, been cited as inspiration for JK Rowling for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series, and this is reflected in the many wizarding shops along its pavements.

The Northern Lights display at York Minster Photo: Duncan Lomax/Ravage Productions

You have to take in York Minster, too. This stunning cathedral is simply ginormous and full of exquisite architecture.

Deep in its vault it contains a museum of the city's Roman past, and while we were there the Northern Lights displays were being put on at night. Telling a mythical story of Christian and Norse gods, it lit of the walls and ceiling of this vast structure with a colourful display complete with thundering soundtrack.

And once the exploring is done, you'll need somewhere to rest those weary feet. We stayed at Middletons, located just over the Ouse between Skeldergate and Cromwell Road, which is spread over six buildings shrouded in history and bathed in luxury.

Crowds pack into York Minster for the Northern Lights display Photo: Duncan Lomax/Ravage Productions

Friendly staff await your every need from checking in and out and mealtimes - as well as letting us in and out with a still-awake son at 4am - while the rooms are spacious, warm and full of little luxuries so you feel you can let your hair down and relax while away from home.

Perhaps its hidden gem is that, given it is nestled between two less-driven streets, you are almost dead in the city centre and yet surrounded by calm and quiet. And the river is just feet away, so walks in tranquil surroundings are available everywhere you look.

York is a gem in the north that has tales from every part of Britain's history to tell. We had a couple of nights to play with, but perhaps next time a couple of months would be better to fit everything in.

Fact Box

  • Middletons Hotel in York boasts 56 bedrooms in six impressive listed buildings.

  • All rooms come with added extras including fresh milk, chunky biscuits and bottled water.

  • Middletons has on-site parking and gym facilities which are open to all as part of their stay.

  • Cosy rooms are ideal for short stays. Book an advanced room only rate from £79 or add a delicious cooked breakfast for two from £97. Comfy rooms have lots of character and added extras, including Lavazza coffee machines. Book a Comfy room on an advanced rate from £99 or treat yourself to a full breakfast from £117 based on two people sharing.

  • Those who want to relax and enjoy the hotel’s tranquil surroundings in the evening can take advantage of Middletons’ Dinner, Bed and Breakfast rate from just £177. Executive rooms at Middletons Hotel have separate lounge areas and free-standing baths. Treat yourself from £119 on a room only rate.

  • For the perfect home away from home, check into one of Middletons’ fabulous Cottages. Ideal for larger families of up to six or groups of friends. Enjoy the Cottage rooms from £139 on a room only basis. Add breakfast from £157.

  • For more information about all the city has to offer, and to purchase the York Pass City Sightseeing card visit