Monday, May 4, 2015

York: A Mini-guide

Well, I hope you have plenty of time on your hands on this lovely bank holiday because today's post is a bit of a whopper. Last weekend me and Rob were very kindly invited down to York by Travelodge for a couple of nights stay in their central hotel. We ended up only having one full day there because it was such a long round trip, but we did manage to squeeeeeze every last inch out of it. So, without further ado,. here's a little round up of our time there, along with some pretty tasty food recommendations. 

York Minster The Little Magpie

We arrived around 6.30 in the evening and checked straight into the hotel so we could dump our bags before heading out. The room was just your usual, dependable Travelodge; simple but with all the necessities - tv, desk and big ass comfy bed. Our room also had a lovely view of the river which was an added bonus! One thing I will say about the hotel was that it was perfect in location - literally a 10 minute walk from the centre of town - so if you're on a budget and want somewhere handy then this would be the place for you. We quickly spruced up and headed out for dinner, making sure to go via The Shambles, which we were lucky enough to get to ourselves. It truly is the most magical street ever; with all its timber-framed buildings it feels like you've been transported back in time or like you've walked straight onto Diagon Ally. Apparently some of the buildings date right back to the 14th century which is pretty amazing!

York The Shambles The Little Magpie York The Shambles The Little Magpie 1

York PLaces to eat gluten free York Places to eat gluten free 1

York is literally filled to the brim with amazing places to eat, but we decided to go for Cafe Concerto because I'd heard they did an amazing gluten free menu and oh MAMMA was that true - two whole, glorious pages of gluten free food to choose from. I went for chicken liver pate to start and then seabass for mains, both of which were absolutely lovely (especially when topped off with a deliciously fresh organic cider).

York PLaces to eat gluten free 2

On our way home we stopped off at Filmore and Union to pick up a gluten free brownie - one of the best I've ever had and oh-so-chocolatey, but more on that later - and walked back home through The Shambles (which we got all to ourselves once more, what lark).

York The Shambles The Little Magpie 2

After a long-ass sleep in our marshmallow bed, we picked up our breakfast boxes from reception. Instead of having a restaurant, Travelodge offer little snack boxes, which you can pick up at your leisure, that are filled with cereal bars, yoghurt and orange juice. If you do fancy a bigger/cooked breakfast and you need it STAT, then there's a Weatherspoons literally next door.

York Travelodge bed

 I wasn't able to eat a lot of mine thanks to my nemesis, Wheat, so Rob worked his way through the two and then we headed out to get breakfast (well, second breakfast for some) elsewhere. 

York cherry blossom the little magpie
York is bursting with the most beautiful blossoms everywhere so I kept stopping to admire them, much to Rob's dismay, before finally got to our breakfast destination. Behold...

Bill's restaurant york the little magpie 3 Bill's restaurant york the little magpie 2 Bill's restaurant york the little magpie 1

Handsome little bastard
Bill's York The Little Magpie Bill's restaurant york the little magpie
...Bill's! Since popping my Bill's cherry earlier this year, it's fast become one of my favourite places, so as soon as I saw one in York I knew we had to make a stop. I went for the Eggs Benedict and Rob got himself a big, beautiful cooked breakfast for his first ever Bill's experience, both of which were - of course - tasty with a capital T. The interior there kills me ever time - I'd seriously love nothing more than to have a dining room that looked exactly like that.

York Minster The Little magpie 3 York clock The Little Magpie

Feeling suitably full, we decided just to take it easy and have a wander around York - going in and out all of the tiny cobbled streets and, of course, stopping in past York Minster. The weather was still on our side at this point so we headed along Dame Judi Dench Walk and right across the riverfront, finishing up in the museum gardens. It's all so perfectly quaint and British, if you're lucky enough to catch it on a sunny day it's a beautiful place to amble around at your own pace.

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You see? I wasn't lying when I said it was filled with cherry blossom.

Dame judy dench's walk york the little magpie 3 Dame judy dench's walk york the little magpie 2

And then, well, the the weather turned. Badly. I'm talking non-stop torrential rain, so we headed - and by that I mean ran at full speed - to Filmore and Union, which is another place that was top of my list of places to eat, heightened by my delightful brownie experience the night before.

Filmore and Union York the little magpie 1 Filmore and Union York the little magpie

I can honestly say this place completely surpassed my expectations, which were already pretty high after everything I'd read. It's still such struggle to find healthy, tasty foods when you're out and about, so this place was the stuff of dreams. They have a HUGE range of gluten free meals (I think actually every single one of their evening meals are gluten free), as well as catering to every other kind of dietary misfit, from the lactose intolerents to the vegans. We both had creamy chicken and courgette-spaghetti (honestly one of the best meals I've had out in a long, long time) along with one of their juices and fresh leaf teas. They've got 6 or 7 restaurants now so it's definitely worth checking if there's one near you! Oh, and I feel I should also mention that they're dog-friendly, which is an exciting little bonus.

Bettys York The Little Magpie

The rain was still doing its best to drown everyone, so we wandered about the shops for a bit (make sure and check out The Imaginarium, although they might be low on stock because we left with half of it) and then thought we'd potter by the famous Betty's Tearooms. Sadly the queue was bloody massive even in the rain - serious cake dedication right there - and they also couldn't guarantee anything was gluten free so we had to give it a miss, but I couldn't help but take a quick snap so that we could collectively drool over the Fat Rascal scones.

Urban Outfitters winky eye top the little magpie

We wandered back to the hotel via Urban Outfitters, where I found the t-shirt of my dreams, and sat watching some evening tv - ok, you got me, we watched The Vow - with some snacks until we'd dried off a bit. Heads up - York is RIDICULOUSLY busy on a Saturday night, the first few places couldn't seat us for two hours at least, so we ended up in La Tasca. Which I'm not actually complaining about because it was my first time there and pretty delicious, but lean from our mistake and get your bookings in before you visit. And then that was it! We were up pretty early on the Sunday to tackle the 7 hour drive home (I just did a bit of sick even thinking about it), but not before I took one last snap of the blossoms, mwahahahahaaaaa.

York cherry blossom the little magpie 1

Thank you to Travelodge for such a lovely trip!