Great British boltholes: Inside a new boutique hotel that offers an ‘oasis of calm’ in the center of bustling York
- No.1 by GuestHouse is a 10-minute walk from the Mayhem, inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Potter films
- The property was carved out of a royal Georgian home, with interiors by designer Martin Hulbert
- Angelina Villa-Clarke checks in, finding he featured period details alongside his ‘quirky style’
- The guest bedrooms have record players and coffee machines hidden in dollhouses
- The basement has been transformed into a spa, with massages and facials with Pinks Boutique oils
York is buzzing. Firstly, Clifford’s Tower, the city’s iconic 800-year-old building, recently reopened after a £5 million restoration project by English Heritage. A snake of visitors queue to see inside what is the city’s second major historic site after York Minster.
Then along the Shambles, another part of York steeped in heritage, Harry Potter fans try to get the best shot of the towering wooden buildings. What is widely regarded as one of the best preserved medieval streets in Europe is also the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Potter films.
But a ten-minute walk from all the hubbub is an oasis of calm in the new boutique hotel No 1 by GuestHouse. Located in the Clifton area, the hotel was carved out of a royal Georgian home, where interior designer Martin Hulbert showcases the many original period details alongside its quirky style.
Oasis of Calm: Angelina Villa-Clarke checks in at No.1 by GuestHouse, York. Pictured is the grand Georgian exterior of the hotel
Above is the Marmalade Lounge, which is “perfect for afternoon tea”
“With only 39 rooms, No. 1 is intimate and comfortable,” says Angelina, who adds that the rooms “are all united by cozy details.”
Most rooms have fireplaces, giant sash windows, and sleek plasterwork contrasting with a rich color palette and bold artwork. The vast central staircase is a beauty. Just off the lobby is the Marmalade Lounge, perfect for afternoon tea. Decorated in honey tones, it’s like a salon of yesteryear, with mustard velvet armchairs to sink into and antique finds, like a delicate chinoiserie cabinet, to capture your curiosity.
With just 39 rooms, No 1 feels intimate and cozy. This is the second property under the GuestHouse brand (the first was in Bath, more will open in Margate and Brighton next year) and aims to recapture the traditional ‘guest house’ experience.
Though each room has its own design — some with four-poster beds, others with stand-alone tubs — they’re all united by cozy details. You’ll find slippers, Nespresso machines hidden in dollhouses, and 100 Acres products.
On each floor you’ll also find a free pantry stocked with jars of sweets and Yorkshire treats, such as Bakewell pies. Unusual details add a touch of fun – there are record players in the bedrooms and a vinyl library downstairs from which to select your LPs. In the bar, you can sip an Utter Shambles cocktail (made with Purple Ram Yorkshire vodka) while a little train zips through the room – a reference to the nearby railway museum.
The hotel’s ‘sleek’ restaurant (pictured) serves dishes such as salt-baked beets with goat cheese
The basement has been transformed into an “atmospheric” spa, Angelina reveals. Pictured is one of the treatment rooms
The hotel is close to the Shambles (above), widely regarded as one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval streets – and the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Potter films
The elegant restaurant, with teal walls, also champions local delicacies.
There are salt-baked beets with goat cheese; Scarborough Woof – a local wolffish dish; and, for dessert, an inventive ‘Ruffle’s Bar’ with flavors of raspberry and coconut.
Breakfast is a feast of granolas, berry compotes, and pastries from the guest house. How about wild mushrooms on grilled sourdough or a full Yorkshire with sausages and bacon from Lishman’s butchers of Ilkley?
The basement has been transformed into an atmospheric spa, with Pinks Boutique oil massages and facials. It’s dark and moody with exposed brick walls, hanging dried flowers, and hand-woven textiles.
It’s a heavenly place to retreat to while York buzzes outside.