It’s that time of year when visions of twinkly, picture-perfect Christmas give way to the reality of the festive end-of-term frenzy. Juggling the shopping, planning and digging out costumes for the kids can all feel a bit much, so it’s a good idea to carve out a little grown-up time to actually sit back and enjoy the festivities before we’re plunged into January wondering what on earth happened. So when we were invited along to check out festive afternoon tea at No.1 York, one of York’s newest and most gorgeous hotels, we didn’t have to think twice.
About No.1 York – It might be new to the city’s hotel scene, but No.1 York has quickly gained a reputation as one of the best places to stay. Part of a small, family-run chain – GuestHouse hotels – the emphasis is very much on quality over quantity. No.1 is beautiful: luxurious but cosy, high-end but unstuffy. It’s also surprisingly family-friendly, with lots of lovely little touches for younger visitors, from books to read at bedtime to little tipis in the room. The good news for York residents is that the hotel welcomes locals in search of something lovely to eat or drink. Not only is it home to fine dining restaurant Pearly Cow, but non-residents can pop in for a coffee, glass of wine or full afternoon tea in the sumptuous surroundings of the Marmalade Lounge.
The Welcome – No.1 York is an interior designer’s dream, from the dark and sultry hallway to the golden glow of the Marmalade Lounge. It’s a good-mood-inducing place to be at any time of year, but we loved the festive touches like the towering twinkling tree. We were greeted with a warm welcome and shown through to the lounge where our table was set and waiting for us. The service was charming and calmly efficient: we’ve had many afternoon teas that have almost turned into evening teas thanks to slow service, but this one was just right.
The Food – We’ve been lucky enough to sample a few afternoon teas in York, and this was up there with the best. It had all the usual elements: three pretty tiers of sweet and savoury treats served with our choice of tea or coffee (a nice strong breakfast tea for us, please). Everything looked as good as it tasted, but the dinky mince pies and fruity macarons were our highlights. The icing on the cake was the scones: warm, generously sized and definitely in our York Scone Top Five (what family doesn’t have a local scone rating system?!). We also loved that there was just the right amount of food, so there was none of the usual guilt that comes with not being able to finish it all. In fact, afternoon tea at No.1 York was the Goldilocks of experiences: just right.
Good to know – Afternoon tea is served in the Marmalade Lounge of No.1 York every day from 12.30am to 5pm but must be booked at least 24 hours in advance. Traditional afternoon tea is £30, or add a glass of fizz for £38.
No.1, 1 Clifton, York YO30 6AA