IHG brought its boutique Indigo brand to York in July 2015. The group has big plans to expand the brand in the UK, with a Cardiff property to open in November, followed by London Aldgate, Leicester Square, Brighton, Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon, Durham and Dundee next year. In York, IHG also operates Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Like all Indigo properties, the York hotel’s design is inspired by the local neighbourhood – in this case, by the history of Walmgate, the street on which it sits, and the city’s chocolate-making heritage (Rowntree’s and Terry’s can be traced back to the area).
The ground floor of the red-brick new-build is open plan, with reception ahead of you, a cosy lounge area with teal velvet seating and a fire feature to your left, and No 88 Walmgate bar and restaurant to the right. The whole space has a relaxed, earthy feel, with plenty of wood and brickwork, a laidback music soundtrack, and shelves lined with Yorkshire-brewed beer bottles and old books.
Taking the neighbourhood angle further, in the lobby are cards containing staff recommendations for what to check out in the city, and a “shop” display showcasing locally made chocolate, jewellery and toiletries available to buy. The Yorkshire rose is printed on plant holders, while, upstairs, room numbers have been hand-carved in the style of York Minster. Staff are decked out in tweed and are chatty and helpful.
WHERE IS IT?
On Walmgate, a street of independent restaurants and bars five to ten minutes’ walk from the city’s historic heart. It’s a 20-minute walk or a short drive from York station. I liked the location, being away from the packed centre yet still close to it, and with plenty of good dining choices on the doorstep.
The 101 rooms are split across the ground to third floors and come in three categories – the bulk are Standard Kings (19.5 sqm), while Superior (24 sqm) and Superior Premium (32.5 sqm) rooms are located on the top floor.
Standard King rooms come in two designs – those on the ground floor are chocolate themed, with deep brown leather headboards, colourful “Smartie” cushions and dark wood panelling suggestive of slabs of chocolate.
Others are in a largely grey colour palette and are inspired by the history of Walmgate, with old framed prints of the area hung salon-style behind the bed, and lampshades printed with a old census showing the businesses once set up along the street. All feature wooden floors plus furniture and fabrics made in Yorkshire.
Each offers free wifi, mini fridges containing complimentary water, chocolate, raisins and fresh milk, and facilities for making tea (Yorkshire Tea and Taylors of Harrogate), coffee and hot chocolate.
Also provided are 40-inch Samsung HD smart TVs with Freeview, speaker connections in the bathrooms, iHome docks, desks with UK and EU plug sockets, more sockets by the bed, Egyptian cotton linens, blackout curtains, adjustable air conditioning, safes and ironing boards.
Bathrooms feature walk-in rainshowers, robes and H2K of Harrogate products. There are two Standard King corner rooms (one on the first floor and another on the second) that are worth nabbing if you can – both the bedrooms and bathrooms are roomier. I had one of these and it was quiet and comfortable.
The two higher categories come with extra treats in the fridge, Nespresso machines and Sky TV. Superior rooms have Super King beds, while Superior Premiums are bright and spacious with exposed brickwork, open-plan bathrooms with separate tubs, and antique touches such as old Yorkshire Tea tins. One of them has a faux log fire, while from two you can spy the top of York Minster.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
No 88 Walmgate has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the street and serves an all-day menu. It focuses on local produce and brews, with Yorkshire beers and ales chalked up on a blackboard behind the bar, and hearty dishes on the menu including Yorkshire pudding with chorizo, onion and ale gravy (£7) and West Riding steaks (from £22).
We had an enjoyable meal here on a Friday evening – while it wasn’t tremendously busy, there was a nice atmosphere with couples dining and a few people sat up at the bar, which is open 24 hours to residents.
To start, I had a lovely piece of grilled mackerel with salt-baked beetroot, Wakefield rhubarb, aioli and toast (£7), which was prettily presented. For my main I went for the herb-crusted chicken with spring greens, charred onion and roasted garlic mash (£12) – good comfort food and well priced. My companion’s Yorkshire wagyu steak burger with pancetta, Wensleydale, tomato salsa and chips (£15) was flavoursome and generous.
Breakfast was also good, with a decent cold buffet selection (£9.95) and a choice of à la carte hot dishes for an extra £6.
A small private room in the restaurant holds about ten people for an informal meeting or dinner.
There is a gym on the third floor with a nice view to greenery outside.
An excellent choice for a trip to York. Welcoming and well-equipped with thoughtful, homely design and a good food and drink offering. Well located, too, in one of the city’s trendier areas.
Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in October started from £124 for a Standard King room.
88-96 Walmgate; tel +44 (0)1904 231 333; hotelindigoyork.co.uk