Nestled in the heart of one of England’s most historic cities, the Principal York hotel is a true gem. Conveniently located just a few minutes’ walk from the iconic York Minster, this luxurious hotel was an ideal base for my exploration of the city, nearby Harrogate, and Castle Howard during the heatwave summer of 2022.
We were up in Yorkshire for a Duran Duran concert at Castle Howard, so chose this hotel as the base to fit in a trip to Harrogate and explore the historic city of York.
I’d read the hotel had views of York Minster and expected it to be near the Minster in a quiet surrounding. When I finally tapped in the address to the GPS I was a little nervous, ‘Station Road, York’ didn’t sound like the quiet surrounds of the historic Minster. As we drove ever closer, I started to wonder what kind of flea pit we had booked, would be it safe and where could I leave the car?
Drawing up to the hotel and all my concerns were immediately washed away. This ‘Grand Dame’ of a hotel is a massive old (Victorian?) hotel set within its own grounds, right next to the train station. Parking up in front of the hotel, we emptied the car and struggled into the reception with far too many bags.
What’s The Principal York Hotel Actually Like?
The hotel was serenity itself, all pale grey walls and big leather sofas. The sheer size of the hotel meant the main staircase had plenty of room and light making the hotel feel comfortable and one that could easily swallow loads of people. The staff were nothing but friendly and very helpful checking us in and leaving us to wind our way up to the bedrooms.
The rooms were very comfortable. Our junior suite comprised a separate living area with TV chairs, sofa, and mini bar. The bedroom had a comfortable double bed and a small dressing table. The bathroom had a large sink, loo, and fair sized shower but no bath. Considering the size of the hotel and room, we thought there may have been one but that is not a complaint.
Our room promised a view of the Minster which I was skeptical about, but yet again was wrong. The Minster sits on higher ground in the centre of the city which afforded us a great view across the rooftops. You could just about see it when lying in bed but it was visible, and audible from all the windows. On our Sunday morning departure, we sat in the room and listened as the bells of the Minster were carried in on the breeze.
Miss Boo had a cheaper room overlooking the station. There was little noise, even with the window open. A comfortable bed and spacious bathroom (again, no bath) made for a great room. Being at the back of the hotel it was a bit darker than our room.
Dining At The Principal York
Our first night dinner was in the hotel, in ‘The Refectory’, a large conservatory style room on the ground floor. The food was good – nothing out of the ordinary, but well done. The service was excellent and kept me topped up with a wonderful bottle of Rosè Wine.
The pop up bar in the grounds was a welcome opportunity to enjoy a cooling drink in the soaring temperatures.
Breakfast was also in the Refectory with a great buffet of continental and cooked breakfast buffet. with the usual Sausage Egg, Bacon and ‘Doreen’s Pudding’ a Yorkshire take on Black Pudding.
Saturday night was dinner in town. We ended up in a funny restaurant which was OK but not what we had hoped from the description. I think that needs a separate review, so I’ll focus on the hotel bar.
The bar is a ‘proper bar’ (not a lounge bar) with great cocktails, beers and cool music. We started Friday evening in the hotel bar and had a drink after dinner on Saturday. The bar was fully stocked with plenty of gins, loads of cocktails and hipster staff. The music played was a good mix of ‘cool’ tunes I had to Shazam, and others I could hum away to.
For location, you could walk to the Minster in ten minutes, the Shambles in 15. We worried the hotel may be a little out of town but, situated the other side of the city walls, it offered the perfect combination of proximity and peace. We had looked at Judges Lodgings and on reflection that could have been very noisy on a Saturday night.
Getting to the Principal York
The hotel is super easy to find. It is right next door to the train station.