I had the absolute pleasure to head up to York for the weekend to celebrate the baby shower of one of my longest and dearest friends and decided to make a weekend out of London of it rather than just going north for the day!
I mean let's be honest, it is not going to be the summer of exotic trips and I reached a point at which I was getting sick of being in London.
Don't get me wrong, I will never not love this city but I was literally doing the same walks, the same weekend activities and the same weekly schedule over and over again and it was slowly but surely driving me a little bit insane.
Even though I was only in York for a bit less than 3 days I got to properly detach myself from the hustle and bustle of London life and enjoy this beautiful city which has surprisingly many hipster friendly spots on offer that can totally hold their own compared to the capital's culinary scene!
It may not be New York (LOL) but York is a lovely little city, filled with the most wonderfully friendly Yorkshire people and for me offered the perfect break from Covid reality.
I will be back that is for sure and not only to meet my friend's family addition, but also because I left a little bit of my heart in York.
HOW TO GET THERE: LNER
Plan ahead when it come to travelling to York because I did not and ended paying £86 for my return ticket. Book in advance and travel at off peak and you can easily get a return for under £60, or even less with a rail card.
The LNER trains themselves are super modern, spacious and equipped with board bistro which means the 2 hours and 20 minutes from Kings Cross to York will pass in no time! PS: the station is a manageable 10-15 minute walk from the city centre, even with luggage!
WHERE TO STAY: THE GRANGE
I am going to be honest here. With staycations being the only safe bet when it comes to holidaying this year there wasn't much choice in terms of hotels with availability and the ones that were still free definitely weren't cheap BUT hey a year stuck in ones own 4 walls makes going to a hotel an event so I treated myself a little bit!
The Grange ended up a lovely choice, not quite high end boutique standards, but located in a wonderful old Edwardian and very grand building.
The room, though on the small size, won me over with its incredibly comfy bed and amazing rain forest shower and altogether The Grange proved as great base for the weekend, the city centre and minster about a 5 minute walk away and the train station about 10, making it super easy to spend a whole weekend exploring York on foot without ever being too far away from that gorgeous bed!
FOR BRUNCH: ROBINSONS
A short walk from the centre you will find Bishopthorpe Road, a quirky high street filled with independent shops, cute restaurants, delis and this lovely brunch spot.
It really reminded me of London fields and I recommend a nose around the street even if you don't plan to brunch at Robinsons, though you would be stupid not to because the food there is pretty special!
Indeed, the Aussie inspired menu reminded me of Workshop Coffee, a brunch time favourite during my uni years, long closed, which I frequented just about every weekend and blew a considerable part of my student loan on, and Robinsons thankful also managed to deliver on all taste fronts.
It was hard to choose what to go for on the well written menu, there was an enticing sounding truffled mushroom on sourdough and incredible looking pancakes stacks but I settled in the end on the corn fritters with perfectly poached eggs, avocado, crispy halloumi and katsundi (a sort of chilli pickle) and WOW It was pretty damn good and only £8.5, which for London standards is more the price of a juice than a whole brunch.
Make sure to leave some space for the homemade cakes as well - we shared a huge slice of layered sticky toffee cake with dates which was the dreamiest cake I have had in a long time and one that Mary Berry would be proud of.
Expect to queue at the weekends but make Robinsons a must visit for any weekend spent in York
FOR DRINKS: PAIRINGS
I adored this small but mighty wine bar and its concept of pairing wines with sharing boards featuring all the nibbles your heart could desire.
On this occasion I only had a couple of glasses of wine at Pairings and no food but was already very impressed by their wine selection, fair pricing and super friendly service and was quite enviously watching the boards of food go past me! A definite revisit for my next trip and a place I would happily spent a whole evening at!
FOR A GREAT BEER GARDEN (THAT IS VEGAN FRIENDLY): DÖNER SUMMER
My friend had planned a sunny picnic as the main event for her baby shower but in typical British fashion it was more actual rain showers than sunny baby shower when it came to the day.
Luckily she and her partner had thought ahead and had made it a mission to find a covered outdoor dining spot that had space for about 16 people on a Saturday that was also the day of an England match.
Sounds impossible but they actually fully succeded by stumbling across Döner Summer. I must admit I was a little confused when, upon my arrival in York, my friend told me the baby shower lunch was now taking place in a kebab shop.
A kebab shop in mind was a grim place one would stumble into in East London at 3 in the morning to somehow line the stomach with food, not exactly a place for a baby shower that also included both their parents. But thankfully Döner Summer turned out to be pretty much the complete opposite of that.
The outside space is gorgeous - all covered, wooden benches and fairy lights everywhere, even cosy as the heavens opened. Then there was the food! Because this was really not your average kebab shop in that it was FULLY vegan.
Yes, you heard me right - not one slither of meat gets served here, instead chik'n (a fake meat made from not quite sure what but it tasted good so better not to ask) is used to reimagine classic fast food dishes like fried chicken and the famous German doner kebab.
Sounds slightly weird but the end result is pretty damn tasty! I had the Korean bbq "teller", fries layered with Korean slaw, mayo and all sorts of other amazing stuff and I got to say it was surprisingly delicious!
So were the drinks - there is an excellent wine list, £6.50 Aperol Spritz's and some rather invented cocktails (my pregnant friend had a mocktail that arrived topped with blue candy floss).
Service was superb, branding very trendy and east Londonesque and overall it was THE perfect spot, though rather unplanned, for a big group to spend a Saturday afternoon celebrating a new life coming into the world at. A thumbs up for me for Döner Summer and not just as last minute plan b!
AND THE CLASSIC NOT TO MISS: BETTY'S
A few years ago I made a day trip to York to have their famous afternoon tea and no York visit should be complete without a stop at this world famous tea shop and bakery. Grab a scone, macaroon or millionaire shortbread and get a taste of the best of British baking.