Last weekend Dan and I had a festive weekend away in my university city, York. After three amazing years in the city, I was excited to return and show Dan round my favourite places.
With our big coats packed, we headed to the North. Yet, no matter how much I visit or how long I lived there, I will never get used to is how flipping cold it is! Saturday rained all day, it practically snowed at one point – typical.
Even so, we had such a relaxing weekend. It’s the perfect time of year to be snuggled up by a fire after a day of exploring Christmas markets, before bracing to go out in the cold again for dinner.
Our first weekend away together was a year ago, when we took a trip to the Lake District for a festive weekend. It was bleak! The fog ruined most of the views, but it was the first time we’d spent the whole weekend together and we absolutely loved it.
We thought we’d take a little break again, this time to York. I did feel ridiculously grown up (a realisation that keeps hitting me) when driving past campus telling Dan more about my uni.
Where we stayed
I’d booked an AirBnB just outside of York in Haxby, around a fifteen minute drive from the centre. It was stunning; a classic barn conversion with a country cottage feel and so many beautiful extras. There was local gin on the side for us to enjoy with tonic and ice in the fridge, a bottle of prosecco in the fridge, endless tea, coffee and Lotus biscuits (um, yes please). It was so relaxing.
With a free-standing bath in the bedroom, I enjoyed a bath while watching Love Actually. A dream.
We used the fire most evenings to warm back up again, or warm up before heading out for dinner and drinks. Dan’s a big fan of pyrotechnics so safe to say the fire was his job, I was not allowed near it.
We absolutely loved the Haxby Hayloft, it was everything we’d hoped and more. We’ll be staying again.
Where we went
Obviously top on the list (for me especially) was taking a stroll round the Christmas Markets. I’ve done it for the past five years normally ending with a cheeky Bailey’s hot chocolate at Thor’s.
The market has grown in popularity in this time and York was absolutely heaving as we went on a Saturday. Rooky mistake.
There are so many great food stalls now, as well as locally brewed gins, rums, vodka with free samples being handed out every other step, but we weren’t complaining. We ended up buying a fair amount of alcohol, as well, priorities.
I’d recommend not eating before to find a snack or lunch on the way round. Also if you’re not a big drinker, there’s still quite a few stalls selling Christmas decorations and accessories for yourself and your home.
The Minster is always worth a visit, mainly to view the impressive architecture. We took a quick peek into the Minster, but didn’t take the tour.
I’d recommend waking around the Minster from the outside to view it from all angles and you’ll find some hidden gems along the way.
We made the short drive up to Castle Howard with the hope to look round the house and gardens. With the Christmas display, the prices had risen to £22 per person, an expense that right before Christmas wasn’t ideal, so we scrapped that idea and just went round the Garden centre (where Dan tried to convince me that we should buy another Christmas tree), farm shop (where Dan drooled at the bread) and the gift shop.
You can’t not visit York without visiting this quaint little street now filled to the brim with Harry Potter shops. Some of the best places along the Shambles are the Shop that must not be named and Monk Bar Chocolatiers. Expect chocolate moulded into the shape of everything under the sun, and a constant wheel of liquid churning chocolate. I’d recommend trying their shot of chocolate (from the liquid chocolate wheel) served in a chocolate cup. It’s rich, but a chocoholics dream.
Our attempt at Christmas shopping was quite feeble tbh, we ended up looking through Christmas cards and insulting each other with them. I’m expecting a “Special Friend” or “Friend” card from Dan this year.
Though to be fair, Dan always gets very romantic cards, something I wish I knew when I got him a Christmas card last year that read “Merry Christmas Dickhead.” It was our nickname for each other at the time.
We also went into a gift shop where Dan and I began to laugh hysterically at the Jelly Cat toys available. There was a crab, octopus, elephant, sure sure, but then a sushi roll with legs and eyes, a leek, a carrot, an aubergine and the one that killed me, a giant croissant with legs and eyes. Who is going to buy that?
Slight tangent there, but my point – York is great for shopping they even have croissant and sushi toys.
We also popped up to the Designer Outlet an amazing spot for a bargain. Sadly we’d done most of our Christmas shopping by this point, but it meant looking around for any last minute bits or things to look out for in the sale. I bought my beloved Kate Spade bag from the outlet around a year ago at 70% off. I mean, at that price it would have been rude not to buy it!
Where we ate
Brew and Brownie
Duh I rarely go to York without visiting here. If you know me or read through my uni blog posts, you’ll know this gem features quite heavily.
It’s a small cafe (you’ll always have to wait for a table) with freshly baked cakes and an array of different brownies with all sorts of goodness infused in them chocolate chip cookies, mars, lotus biscuits, salted caramel etc. We went for brunch on Saturday. I’d recommend either the scrambled eggs and bacon on sourdough or the three cheese toast with chutney. All the yum.
We also took a brownie for the road, as, well, you’ve just got to.
Millers Fish & Chips
Friday night we got to Haxby quite late so strolled down to the local fish and chips that our hosts had recommended. It was cheaper than our local shop in Bar Hill and potentially the best fish and chips we’ve had. We took it back to eat at the loft while watching Gavin and Stacey, which was relaxing af.
As everywhere was so busy we popped into Waterstones cafe and waited around for a table (note to self avoid York on a Saturday) to get out of the rain and have a much needed coffee.
I wrote and edited a fair amount of my dissertation at Undergrad in that Waterstones and spent many an hour there with my pals, half crying, half hysterical trying to resolve all our writing issues. It was nice to go back without a laptop.
Again, did we book a table ahead of time for Saturday night? Nope. At 5pm on Saturday we were trying to book a table, but of course, everywhere was full. Thankfully we were de-frosting at the Hayloft so it didn’t bother us too much.
We managed to get a late table at Cote (a restaurant we love, but hadn’t been to in an age). The Cote in York is really good, perfect for dinner.
I’d also recommend having dinner at The Botanist, Slug and Lettuce, Turtle Bay, Cosmo (it’s a buffet so wear loose trousers eh?) and the Yorkshire Roast Co, just because a roast served in a yorkshire pudding, is ideal at any time of day.
The Ivy Brasserie is also gorgeous (the food and the building) as is Betty’s if you’re fancying something fancier.
Pear Tree Farm
Part of the Greene King chain, this pub is ideal for a slightly hungover buffet breakfast with endless tea and coffee. Hidden just behind Monks Cross, it’s an ideal spot for a cheap breakfast or lunch if you’re that end of the city.
All in all it was a wonderful weekend and I think a festive getaway is going to be an annual tradition for us!