It was a spur of the moment decision to book a couple of nights away, mid-November, to start our Christmas shopping. I wanted somewhere that would put me in the festive mood, a city or town not too big or too small and with lots of independent shops. York fitted the bill perfectly. Its Christmas market had begun on 15 November so I was guaranteed the extra pleasure of some craft stalls, mulled wine and twinkly lights.
Small is beautiful at The Parisi Hotel, York
I think it was our recent stay at Five Acre Barn in Suffolk that nudged Dougie and I to choose another intimate establishment for our accommodation in York. We were so bowled over by the attention to detail and level of service that a luxury B&B can provide, we hoped it could be replicated in The Parisi Hotel. It certainly was.
The Parisi used to be called the St Denys Hotel, which was appropriate as it is located on St Denys Road and used to be the rectory for the church of the same name, directly opposite. It changed its name to Parisi in 2017 to reflect the individuality of the hotel. Steve, who took us up to our rooms, was a real history buff and he enthused about the story.
According to Steve, and the hotel’s website, the Parisi were a Celtic tribe who overlapped with Roman rule in York. Their chariot burial sites are very similar to those of the Parisii tribe who were in Gaul, raising the possibility of a link between the two tribes. The new name gives this little hotel a touch of Gallic panache, on top of the English country chic charm that shines through with its bright colours and comfy style.
The Parisi Hotel provides service that has a certain je ne sais quoi. From the initial email, full of useful suggestions for restaurants, to the huge smiles from every single member of staff, owners – sisters Maria and Sophie – have ticked all the boxes for excellent hospitality. Every time we came down the stairs to go out, or opened the main door to come in, there was someone there to greet us, hold the door and make us feel very welcome. This gorgeous bolthole, in the centre of York, is a place you will want to return to again and again.
Parking is a premium in York but the Parisi offers its guests complimentary use of a nearby public car park. Drop your bags off first then drive a couple of minutes to a secure car park, before ambling back to the hotel. This would normally have cost us £28 for 48 hours. Not many hotels would pick up the tab for this.
What else did we love?
- Delicious, complimentary breakfast if you book your stay direct with the hotel, which we did.
- Yorkshire Tea, Clipper Teas and a pod coffee machine
- Handmade, natural toiletries from the Sedbergh Soap Company.
- A large communal fridge filled with carafes of water and fresh milk.
- The beautiful library for guests to unwind. There’s no alcohol licence so bring your own wine and the hotel will provide glasses.
York is a shopper’s paradise
Our hotel was superbly located for shopping in York. Just off Walmgate, within the city walls, we were seconds away from an array of independent shops, all doing their best to help us buy Christmas gifts. Within the first hour we had made a significant dent in our present list and this continued over the following day. It helped that York was looking so pretty and welcoming. The Christmas market, St Nicholas Fair, was in full swing, offering craft goodies such as alpaca scarves, candles and craft beers.
We joined other shoppers in the famous Shambles, Europe’s most visited street, to hunt out treats from the quaint, higgledy-piggledy buildings. The Made in Yorkshire Yuletide Village was nearby plus the Small Business Christmas Market at The Judge’s Lodging.
I loved shopping in York. My arms were overloaded with bags and an umbrella so I’m afraid I didn’t manage to stop and take photographs (call myself a travel blogger? No photos!) Thankfully I have some images from Visit York which will give you some idea of what to expect.
York is a delight if you’re into independent or vintage clothing but if you’re looking for more branded goods, there are plenty of designer labels and high street names. We also made a bee-line for the York Designer Outlet centre on the outskirts of the city. With significant discounts from brands such as Paul Smith and Kate Spade, it’s well worth a visit on the journey in or out of the city. In the run up to Christmas there’s a huge ice rink and fun fair here too.
Cafes and restaurants for all budgets in York
Thanks to the tips from The Parisi Hotel, we made a couple of restaurant bookings for our evening meals. The first night we opted for Il Paradiso Del Cibo, a family-run Sardinian restaurant close to our hotel. We had read some excellent reviews about its cheap and cheerful menu and buzzing atmosphere. It’s true, it doesn’t have much kerb appeal but the service is swift and the food is wholesome and tasty. Make room for the tiramisu or chocolate mousse.
For a more hip and happening experience, we managed to book a table at Skosh, one of ‘the’ places in town. With a small menu of snacks and sharing plates, the dishes are sensibly priced considering how fabulous this restaurant is. Dougie and I feasted on sourdough, venison, fried chicken, celeriac, octopus, partridge and cod and I squeezed in a cardamom bhapa ‘shake’ with an elderberry jam donut for pud. I’d go here every week if I lived in York.
Our full English breakfast at The Parisi Hotel kept us going for most of the day, but if you’re looking for a coffee or lunch stop, you really are spoilt for choice in York. There are so many wonderful little independent eateries on every street. During the festive period there are plenty of food stalls and even Thor’s Tipi, amongst the traditional alpine chalets, where you can enjoy a drink in front of a roaring fire.
York – Britain’s most festive city
According to a 2017 survey of 500,000 Christmas tweets in 2017, York takes the honour of the most festive city in Britain. Dougie and I were only in the city for a couple of days but we were so impressed with all it had to offer. The size of York means that it’s really easy to shop on foot and not become over-tired, particularly with the large number of cafes you can dive into for a restorative cuppa.
We focused on the markets and the shops during our stay but there is so much more that we didn’t manage to see this time. The York Castle Museum takes on a Christmas theme, Santa is in his grotto in Coppergate and there are two major pantomimes at York Royal Theatre and the Grand Opera House. Majestic York Minster also offers a packed programme of traditional concerts.
The city has river cruises, spooky walks and rail trips plus it’s the home of the National Railway Museum and the Jorvic Viking Centre. It’s a fascinating city at any time of the year but, I have to say, York is an absolute cracker at Christmas.
Thanks to Visit York for the images of Christmas shopping