The ancient splendour of Northern England’s walled city meets modern indulgences at these spa hotels in York. Situated in grand buildings, often hailing from the Regency era, each one is a luxurious spot to call home for the weekend. When you’re not wandering the labyrinthine warrens in the medieval-era centre, treat yourself to therapeutic relaxation with a gentle float in a heated swimming pool, a soothing holistic therapy or a session in a Scandinavian sauna.
Gorgeous spa hotels in York for Regency-style rest and relaxation
A subterranean retreat at a 5-star spa hotel in York
The Classic Rooms at The Grand York are genteel spaces featuring Egyptian cotton bed sheets, Molton Brown toiletries and plush bathrobes. Upgrade to a suite for complimentary access to the spa and restricted White Rose Lounge, created as part of The Grand’s £15m extension and renovation in 2017. Heritage Suites, which are individually decorated for a boutique feel, have feature windows with city centre vistas. Meanwhile, marble-clad bathrooms contain his-and-hers sinks and walk-in showers with enough space for two.
Drop off your luggage, then head straight to the spa. The vaults where the North Eastern Railway company once stored its fortune have been transformed into a centre of serenity. A 45 ft swimming pool, spa whirlpool, Nordic-style dry sauna and relaxation lounge have replaced the piles of gold that previously languished here within thick stone walls that prevent city noise from seeping through. Let cares melt away in this hushed environment with a session in the scented steam room, perhaps ahead of a blissful facial, body wrap or holistic massage. Beauty treatments include waxing and eyebrow care, while manicures and pedicures use Salt of the Earth products to bring a natural twist to your nail therapy.
While evoking York’s industrial past thanks to features such as black-metal chandeliers, the Rise Restaurant rivals the spa in terms of luxury. Dine on a satisfying meal of slow-cooked pork belly infused with Ampleforth cider, made in the open kitchen here. Contemporary Yorkshire fare makes up the menu, crafted from sustainable ingredients and accompanied by locally made beers and ales.
Hotel The Grand York
A country manor York spa hotel just outside the centre
With the addition of a bijou spa and myriad other modern conveniences, this William III manor hall – constructed as far back as 1699 – has become even more luxurious since its days as the home of renowned diarist Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. The immense grounds at Middlethorpe Hall & Spa, registered by the National Trust, are formed of well-kept lawns, themed gardens and a shimmering lake. Setting the scene for a stay here are rich fabrics, fine paintings and antiques in your room. Wake to a view of the beech avenue or south lawn in a main-house bedroom, or the gardens via the large sash windows of your suite. Four light-flooded courtyard suites with beams each have a separate sitting room for cosy and private relaxation.
The walled kitchen garden, with its trees bearing plump fruits such as plums and peaches, is a source of several ingredients found in the manor’s elegant wood-panelled restaurant. With two AA rosettes, it presents traditional dishes such as guinea fowl with quails’ egg and Whitby crab scallop in gourmet style.
Once you’ve eaten, the spa beckons. It’s constructed within two former Edwardian cottages, and has three first-floor treatment roomswhere you can indulge in a Jessica or shellac manicure and pedicure, alongside waxing and tanning treatments. For deep relaxation, discuss the options with your therapist. They may recommend a body massage or holistic treatment – the Essential Rose Facial, a nod to the flowers grown in Middlethorpe’s gardens, is a fitting choice. From the large windows of the indoor swimming pool you can see views of the private garden. Embrace the heat in the spa bath, steam room and sauna, perhaps after a session in the fully equipped gym, converted from a Victorian summer house.
Middlethorpe Hall & Spa
A city-centre York spa hotel with a heated swimming pool
A short walk from York’s train station, The Principal York benefits from a central location; it’s a jaunt of less than half a mile from ornate structures such as Priory Church of the Holy Trinity and York Theatre Royal. Stroll around the city’s spire-topped buildings then return to the Principal for a sumptuous stint in the heated swimming pool, sauna and hot tub. Or indulge in a different type of treat with a sticky ginger dessert glazed in Yorkshire beer under the opaque glass roof in the foliage-filled Refectory Kitchen. Meals here, including the short rib mac ‘n’ cheese and venison haunch, are crafted from meats sourced nearby in the Yorkshire Dales.
After refuelling post-spa, explore the rest of the accommodation. The Principal York, with its high ceilings and plush patterned carpets, is housed in a medieval building updated in the Victorian era and given a modern makeover in recent days. It’s held on to more than a touch of refinement, however, with renovations helmed by high-end hotel architects Goddard Littlefair. The building’s former grandeur is particularly evident in the Garden Room’s pastel palette, with walls adorned in old-world portraiture, and statuesque high-backed chairs. Sip a brew here handpicked by the head of the Rare Tea Company, which sources leaves straight from farms worldwide.
Rooms at this hotel are just as elegant as its common areas. Entry-level options are decorated in calming colours and feature tuck boxes brimming with treats. Suites, meanwhile, add rainfall showers stocked with Elemis toiletries, plus vistas of York’s most well-known icon: the Gothic Minster cathedral.
A 19th-century spa hotel outside York with a golf course
For an escape close enough to York but with the ambience of the countryside, choose the 19th-century Aldwark Manor Golf and Spa Hotel. This building is the former home of Lord Walsingham’s daughter, who received it as a wedding gift from her father in 1865. You’ll be surrounded by 120 acres of verdant parkland during a stay at this stately space, a serene slice of which is viewable from your room.
The spa at Aldwark overlooks the Vale of York flatlands and River Ure. Set aside a whole day to use the amenities here, including the mood-reviving sauna, steam room and a Jacuzzi. There are also plenty of spaces to continue to unwind after time in the heat: from the cosy relaxation hub to the spa lounge. Book a treatment in one of seven rooms, whether that’s an ESPA facial or a full body treatment. Waxing, as well as hand and foot rituals, are available, along with signature therapies such as a skin-nourishing scrub that uses a soothing blend of sea salts and essential oils. Finish off with a manicure or pedicure at one of three nail stations, then head over to the Terrace Bar overlooking the golf course for a light bite such as a healthy Scottish salmon salad. Treat yourself to a glass of crisp chardonnay while you wait for your partner to finish their round.
Select between rooms in the manor or the contemporary wing. The former are individually decorated with country house-style furniture such as drape-laden, four-poster beds. Modern features such as mattress toppers, feather-stuffed pillows and duvets, and thick bathrobes complete the decor – ideal for resting on after a few laps in the hotel’s indoor swimming pool.
Hotel Aldwark Manor Golf & Spa
A spa hotel in York with an underground yoga studio
For an alternative spa getaway, look to Hedley House. This York accommodation features a hot yoga studio in its cellar – complete with an air circulation system and infrared heating to ensure the ideal temperature – with classes run by the Bikram-enthusiast, co-owner. Begin to rid your body of toxins here, then sit back and soak in the hot tub while listening to the bells peal at the Minster, less than a 10 minute walk away. Gloots, the in-house treatment centre, specialises in Dermalogica facials by a therapist trained in elite skincare practice. For the full works, pair one of these invigorating therapies with a restoring massage utilising hot stones or lava shells.
Hedley House’s restaurant has won countless awards for its farm-to-fork fare, including humorously named meals such as Seriously Fried Cheese (a melt-in-your-mouth breaded brie with plum jam) and Wet Peggy (moreish Thai-style coconut milk mussels). Complete your dinner with a glass of York-brewed beer beside the exposed brick fireplace in the on-site Towers Bar. Breakfast the next morning is cooked to order and lunch can be packed up in a picnic basket to eat outdoors while navigating a section of the 170-mile Way of the Roses coastal cycle path.
All of this activity should mean you’ll sleep soundly in this boutique spa hotel’s cosy Deluxe Rooms, where rustic features such as furry blankets and plaid curtains combine with modern amenities like Apple TV and Nespresso coffee machines. Apartments are available to rent in the Victorian house adjoining Hedley if you require extra space and self-catering facilities.