Spend a night at this place? Well, it's tough, but someone's got to do it.
Shall we go inside?
Rudding Park hotel is just stunning, and I fell in love with it the moment I walked through the doors. Every inch of it has been decorated with an expert hand, reflecting the traditional style of the Georgian manor in which it's housed, but with a quirky, modern twist. It's probably one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever been to, both inside and out.
After receiving a very warm welcome from the reception staff, we were shown to our rooms. Given the splendid entrance, I was expecting great things, and I certainly wasn't disappointed. There are some hotel rooms you just want to curl up and luxuriate in, and this was definitely one of them. I was particularly enamoured with the monogrammed cushions. "R" and "P" may stand for Rudding Park, but they're also my parents' initials, so part of me felt that they should be staying here instead!
The bathroom wasn't bad either.
To be perfectly honest, I would have been quite happy to spend the whole day in the room, running a bubble bath, pampering myself and ordering room service, but the point of the trip was to explore Harrogate. So, after having a good nose around (and making sure my Aunty's room wasn't better than ours), we quickly freshened up, and off we went.
I'd been to Harrogate before, years ago, and remembered it as a pretty place, but as soon as we arrived in the town centre, I realised that it was even lovelier than I recalled. There was so much beautiful architecture around every corner that we couldn't help but get a little trigger-happy with the camera. It is definitely one of the most picturesque towns I have ever visited.
There were open spaces bursting with flowers, right in the heart of the town.
Not to mention some very interesting shops, including many independent boutiques, jewellers, art and antique shops. Much gazing through windows was done.
We may or may not have made a few purchases in this one. I couldn't possibly comment.
And of course, no visit to Harrogate would be complete without dropping in to Betty's Tea Room. It's been here since 1919, which I think is just wonderful. I love the idea that someone in the 1920s might have enjoyed a cup of tea in the exact same spot as me, gazing through the same window at the hustle and bustle on the same street outside. Today, Betty's is as popular as ever, with locals and tourists alike, and queuing for a table is not unusual. We weren't here long enough to really do this place justice, and it definitely deserves a blog post of its own, so I'll just have to come back here one day soon for a full on afternoon tea. Oh, the sacrifices I make!
After a nice pot of tea (and a sneaky macaroon) we headed back to the hotel, where the early evening sunlight was falling beautifully across the patio. It was so warm and inviting out there that it felt only right to order a bottle of crisp white wine and while away another hour in idle conversation before it was time to get ready for dinner. Torture, really.
That night, we dined in the hotel restaurant. This post is getting pretty long so I won't go into great detail about the meal, but in brief, this is what I had:
Scallops and prawns in a satay sauce to start. This was delicious - my favourite dish of the night.
Followed by steak and chips (because, you know, when in a classy establishment...)
And for dessert, I chose a chocolate and salted caramel delice with blackberry ice cream.
Everything was wonderful... except the steak, which was unfortunately quite tough. In all honesty, I think I was just unlucky with it. Everything else I had to eat was fantastic and the others all thoroughly enjoyed their meals. And the truth was, it really didn't bother me. I was loving the hotel and the whole experience far too much to worry about it. I also came to the conclusion during that meal that I need one of these pink chandeliers for my bedroom. (I haven't told Mike yet, but I'm sure he'll be fine with it.)
With the meal over, it was finally time to turn in for the night. We said goodnight to my Aunt and Uncle and settled down in our room. Mike found a film to watch and I headed straight for that bubble bath. We had lots more adventures to look forward to in the morning... and I'll tell you all about them in the next post!
Anyone ever visited Harrogate?