As end-of-term treats go, a Blissful Afternoon Tea experience at The Grand, York is up there as one of the best. After powering through to the end of the longest January and shortest school term on record, a morning in the spa followed by warm scones and delicious cakes was a very welcome indulgence. Here’s why we’d recommend it as the perfect parental pick-me-up.
The location – The Grand is, as the name suggests, one of York’s finest hotels. In fact, it’s one of the UK’s top five-star hotels, with an abundance of accolades and awards. Housed in the former headquarters of the North Eastern Railway Company, this distinctive red-brick building stands proudly at the entrance to York city centre, a two-minute walk from York station and just five minutes from York Minster. It doesn’t get more central than that. All of York’s main family-friendly attractions are a short walk away, from the JORVIK Viking Centre to the National Railway Museum and York Castle Museum.
The welcome – After a warm, bowler-hatted welcome from the doormen, we followed the aromatic scent of relaxation down to the spa area. The spa, open every day for hotel residents and non-residents, is nestled in the hotel’s cosy vaults. We checked in at the friendly reception, collected our white fluffy robes and towels, as well as a wristband for the lockers.
The spa – After a quick change, we made our way to the cocooning surroundings of the pool area. Hotels with a pool in York are a very rare thing, and this one is beautiful. At 14 metres, it might not be large enough to train for the Olympics, but it’s the ideal size for a relaxing dip. As the spa was busy on the day we visited (a Friday before half term), we spent most of our time moving between the pool and the lava-hot sauna. With a jacuzzi and steam room too, it’s a luxurious space to forget about the world and focus on winding down and feeling good. Treatments are also available to book, with massages and manicures all on the menu.
Afternoon tea – Following all that – ahem – exertion, we really needed a delicious afternoon tea to replace the calories. After a quick shower and change, we made our way up to The Rise, The Grand’s main restaurant and bar. With an open kitchen, low lighting, gleaming glassware and shining brass, it’s a gorgeous setting to enjoy a cake or two. As you’d expect from a place that’s won a variety of awards for its afternoon tea, it was more than just scones and sandwiches. We were presented with three colourful tiers of temptation, from tiny pecan tarts to little jars of panna cotta. The chocolate choux with brown sugar fudge and cardamom ganache was a highlight, as were the butternut squash and whipped feta sandwiches. And yes, there were scones: warm, fresh and really good with a pot of tea. We’d planned to take something home for the children to try after school, but ended up polishing it all off. Sorry kids.
The verdict – Our experience at The Grand was exactly what we hoped it would be: a luxurious and genuinely relaxing couple of hours away from the demands of life, just a short walk from home. It’s proof that you don’t have to be an out-of-towner to enjoy what they have to offer (and if you are from outside York, this is truly a lovely place to stay, and family-friendly too). Huge thanks to The Grand for inviting us along. If you’re looking for some adult time together, it doesn’t get much more peaceful or delightful than this.
The package – The Blissful Afternoon Tea package gives you two hours in the spa, followed by a traditional afternoon tea at The Rise at The Grand. It’s currently priced at £69 per person, and pre-booking is recommended.
The Grand, York, Station Rise, North Yorkshire, YO1 6GD