Visiting the fashionable spa town has been on my list for a while. I have heard so much about it and it did not disappoint.
Kev and I managed to sneak in a last-minute winter break to Harrogate and I hope to return in the summer to explore it further. After all, it is the happiest town to live in in the UK.
There is a lot of greenery around Harrogate, including on The Stray. There are restrictions on the number of days any events can be held on the public grassland. There are signs for Victorian flower trails dotted around along with the classic Victorian lampposts.
We managed to book the Crown Plaza for £40 directly on their website. It was great value for money. This was on a room only basis.
The parking was £10 for 24 hours and the location of the hotel was perfect for exploring the city (5/10 minute walk) The lounge area was modern and so was the bar. The check-in and check out process was quick and efficient too.
We walked into a clean spacious room, where we were greeted with two KitKat bars. I love little touches like this. The room had all the amenities including bathrobes and slippers. By the bedside, there was a “This Works” Pillow Spray too for guests.
There are several boutique hotels in the town, some with a great history like the Old Swan where Agatha Cristie stayed.
The water in Harrogate is supposed to be rich in sulphur and iron and in the fifteenth century was considered medicinal. The original Royal Baths is now a Chinese Restaurant.
In 1897 the Turkish baths opened for business. The late-Victorian building features grand arches, ornate tiling, painted ceilings, terrazzo floors, and ornate tiling. There is a steam room, a plunge pool and 3 rooms with different temperatures. The temperatures increase the further in you go. To start with I had a cold shower, between each heat session, instead of a dip in the plunge pool but after an hour I went in and I would recommend it.
There are communal changing rooms and lockers are available too. The baths are busy and therefore are not quiet. If you want a peaceful experience maybe book in a treatment? They have a separate spa area that offers a range of treatments.
You can book in on a Mixed, Ladies or Gentleman session online. On weekdays it costs £23 for 2.5 hours. We went on a Friday evening at 6pm.
Harrogate has some beautiful independent stores. The famous Montpellier Quarter is worth visiting. It is somewhere where you can get the whole shopping experience from the moment you walk into any of the stores. The streets are cobbled and lined with charming lamp posts. There is a selection of fashion boutiques, glamorous antique shops, art stores, salons, cafes, and restaurants. Morgan Clare is on Montpellier Street and it was Voted by Vogue magazine as one of Britain’s Best boutiques (just shows the standard of the shops here).
Art Galleries are also very popular in the town.
Commercial Street is another street with independent specialist shops including a traditional hardware store and a cheese shop. It is different from Montpellier Quarters however still worth the visit.
There are still high street stores in Harrogate for your everyday essentials too. Many of the buildings are from Victorian times so it is worth just having a stroll around.
Betty’s Tea Room:
This elegant café was established in 1919. The original tea room is in Harrogate however there 5 other locations up north. Between 1030 a.m and 5 p.m expect to queue. The tea rooms are always busy.
If you want the whole experience, in Betty’s historic rooms, you can pre-book the afternoon tea at Imperial (Harrogate) and Belmont Rooms (York). This is priced from £34.95pp.
We visited the one in Harlow Carr. A standard afternoon tea costs £19pp and you can have this at all locations without pre-booking. We shared one of these because we had a food tour planned later in the day. The sandwiches were fresh and well filled, the scone was perfect and the cakes selection was great. Despite not being sat by the window we could still see the beautiful grounds.
Next time I am going to have their breakfast because that looks really good. Remember to try their fat rascals too (plump, fruity scones hand-decorated with a glacé cherry and almond face). I got some to take home.
RHS Harlow Carr
The Harlow Carr Gardens* are managed by the Royal Horticultural Society and are located about a mile from the town centre. The gardens have several sections including a Bird Spotting place, Kitchen Garden and an indoor garden planted with Alpine flora. I am not an avid horticulturalist but enjoy beautiful surroundings and this was the perfect place for that.
We enjoyed the winter walk, looking at the winter flowering heathers and Daphne and witch hazel. The fiery colours against the green grass and blue skies was just beautiful. We also visited the Learning Centre where we saw some beauty embroidery skills from the local society (if you look closely at the little tiles in a couple of my photos you will notice their work).
A beautiful walk, afternoon tea and a visit to the shop at the end – it was a morning well spent. The shop at the gardens had perfect gifts as well as a selection of plants to purchase. I wish I had green fingers.
Food & Drinks
Harrogate has a great food and drink scene. You can find some lovely independent restaurants and cosy pubs and cafes. What I noticed was it is a town that was social and for all ages. You didn’t feel out of place because the age range was also mixed. We went no a Vegan Tour arranged by Yorkshire Appetite*and here are some of my recommendations based on the tour and walking around.
- Papas – Authentic Meditteranean Cuisine including the best vegan mezze
- Major Tom’s Social: think board games, comfy chairs, local brew and pizzas
- La Feria: Bringing the buzz of contemperary Spain to the UK
- Starling: A stone-walled bar, cafe, and kitchen with fairy lights and great chai latte
- Little Ale House: A cosy pub with a warm vibe and a range of microbrewery drinks
- The Winter Gardens: Yes this is a Weatherspoon pub but it was formerly part of the Royal Baths and has lovely high ceilings. Great for a cheap eat or drink and worth looking inside
- North Bar: A family bar perfect for food, coffee, and specialty beer
Visit Harrogate has more information on the town and surrounding areas. I am hoping to return with more time just so I can explore the little cafes and wander around the shops for longer.
Have you been to any of the towns in Yorkshire?
Disclaimer: Parts of my post are gifted(*) AD