The Spa Hotel Review: The Grand Hotel, York, UK
Review: Jessica Sheldrick
The Grand is the only 5* hotel in York, an imposing Edwardian building steeped in history and heritage, with a luxurious spa and thermal suite housed in the vaults of the building. There are 107 guestrooms and suites and an opulent penthouse. An array of bars and restaurants ensure you can enjoy The Grand’s famous Afternoon Tea, share an elegant dinner in The Rise Restaurant, or enjoy rooftop cocktails at the swanky 1906 bar. This is a hotel with a prime location for sightseeing, shopping and spa pampering – and just a short walk from the train station, National Railway Museum, York Minster, York Dungeons and the city’s shopping hotspots.
We arrived in real style as we drove up to this impressive venue and were promptly met by the valet who whisked off the car and our bags. The building’s exterior is a fine historic nod to York’s architecture and the staff were welcoming, and throughout our stay always greeted us by name, which with a hotel this size and the amount of guests that stay at any one time, this was impressive customer care. The reception was hive of activity, but despite a large number of guests checking in (there was a wedding party arriving) the experience was swift and efficient with care taken to ensure each guest know the layout of the hotel and all had bags delivered to the rooms. We had a Classic Twin Room but it was large enough to have been made into a suite; entering the grand doorway, we walked down the corridor to the huge entry hallway with bathroom to the left and separate toilet room to the right, the vast bedroom had a TV in the middle, seating area and vanity table with a welcome plate of homemade chocolates (raspberry, ginger, mint and pistachio). The room was decorated in elegant furnishing in hues of coffee, emerald and pistachio green.
The large widescreen TV had a good range of channels, coffee and tea making facilities were provided and complementary bottles water were chilling in the mini bar, which is restocked on request. The bathroom and (separate) toilet were decorated in marble tiles, optional underfloor heating, and a sunken marble surround bath, rainfall shower and Molton Brown toiletries.
The 1906 bar (also known as the ‘Purple Bar’) is decked out in plush violet high backed chairs and decor, lounge tables has a great spacing layout that maintained an intimate feel, with a welcoming whilst elegant atmosphere. The staff immediately greeted us on arrival and ensured we were quickly seated despite the bar being busy. We chatted to the waiter who asked about our usual drink styles and then recommended a Sloe Gin Martini for me and Peach Bellini for my partner, which were both prepared and presented with finesse and flair and tasted delicious. This is a perfect spot for post-shopping refreshments.
The spa sits in the cosy basement vaults of the building and features a 14 metre swimming pool with jets, spa whirlpool, aromatic steam room, Nordic dry sauna, relaxation lounge, changing rooms providing robes, towels and slippers and a state-of-the-art, air-conditioned gym. The spa is a serene space decorated in neo-classical Roman style; classical busts and mosaic tiles.
I choose to wind-down with an Espa Full Body massage. The treatment started with an aromatic infusion of the senses, where the therapist matches the massage oil scents to your mood requirements post-treatment (relaxed or energised). The spa music was soft and soothing and I loved the fact that warm towels were placed over my back when my feet and back of legs were massaged. The addition of soothing cucumber slices placed over my eyes whilst my therapist massaged my frontwas lovely, this was all topped off with a relaxing head massage – I even dropped off to sleep! My therapist gave me good tips on after-care and product recommendations.
I made good use of the gym (which was immaculately clean) which included a great range of CV equipment (treadmills, cross trainers and 2 types of bikes) along with 2 TV’s and a variety of resistance machines and free weights, mats, balls and bands to offer a good range of exercises options for all abilities.
We had dinner in the Rise Restaurant (which only opened last summer) which has a terrace and bar and an impressive menu that showcases its specialty; Yorkshire tapas-style sharing plates, created by some amazing chefs, using locally and ethically sourced ingredients and prepared in a gallery kitchen so the performance of preparation can be enjoyed between courses.
Before the meal we sampled the Rhubarb 75 cocktails, and then promptly stole the recipe off the welcoming barman, Jack, who shared his knowledge about their extensive gin selection, we sampled the home-flavoured grapefruit gin and he also mentioned his blueberry liqueur which he had developed a recipe for but alas our table was ready before we got around to that!
We teamed a crisp bottle of Vina Pomel Rioja Blanco Chef’s selection which included:
Roasted and pickled heritage beetroot, ewe’s curd, pumpkin seeds
Cured salmon, defiance gin, pickled and raw radishes, coastal herbs
Grilled tiger prawns, smoked paprika mayo
Scallops, cauliflower, granny smith apple and hazelnut
Juniper roasted venison, celeriac, raisins and bilberries
Indian spiced lamb, curried aubergine and dukkha
Butter poached potato terrine, hazelnuts and cavolo nero
The whole menu was a food lover’s dream, each dish was an explosion of textures, tastes and aromas, and all completely unique. We enjoyed every aspect of the menu, though the venison and lamb were highlights which I would thoroughly recommend if ordering separately. We were offered dessert but were just far too full at his stage to even contemplate it, so instead retired gracefully. The service was exceptional, our waitress was attentive without being overbearing, introduced each dish and was quick to replenish drinks and tableware as appropriate. From 8pm there was a live acoustic guitarist playing atmospheric music whilst we ate, a real pleasure to listen to.
After a restful nights sleep breakfast was back in The Rise Restaurant, there was an a la carte breakfast menu should you want a specialty (the smoked salmon, gravlax, crayfish, olives, sun dried tomato, poached eggs, and toast was delicious!), and the buffet was extensive including a wide range of exotic fresh fruit juices including all the traditional and even a few more unusual choices such as pomegranate juice, and the ‘detox water’ infused with fresh strawberries lemon and lime is definitely the way to start the day. Every aspect from arrival to check-out was superb and this luxury residence absolutely deserves its 5* status.
Grand Hotel & Spa
York | North Yorkshire | YO1 6GD
Standard rooms at The Grand start at around £149.