Introducing The Hand Picked Hotels Guide to staycations in Yorkshire.

Affectionately called God’s Own Country by its residents, Yorkshire is a county with a proud character. It is known for its strong tea, dry sense of humour and a gold medal haul in the 2012 Olympic Games that beat the majority of competing countries. Its natural landscape of dales and moors is, however, what draws many to visit, to walk the wild open spaces immortalised in Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.

As the UK’s largest county, Yorkshire also has an impressive seven cities so, unsurprisingly, you’ll find a great shopping scene, besides many beautifully preserved historic centres.

A brief history of Yorkshire

Yorkshire has a chequered history of invasion, civil war and industry.

The Romans established York when they mined lead in the region. Four centuries after the Romans’ departure, the Vikings invaded and ran Yorkshire as a Danish kingdom between 866 and 954.

Following the Battle of Hastings there was more turbulence in store. The people of Yorkshire rebelled against William the Conqueror and he retaliated with a scorched earth policy that caused widespread famine.

Later, major battles of the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil Wars took place in Yorkshire.

Between the 16th and 19th centuries the textile trade and Sheffield steel helped the county to prosper.

The popularity of ‘taking the waters’ in the 17th and 18th century established Harrogate and Scarborough as fashionable spa retreats. In fact, Scarborough claims the distinction of being Britain’s first seaside resort.

In the 19th century, Yorkshire was immortalised in novels by the Brontës, Dickens and Bram Stoker.

The decline of industry and the closure of Yorkshire’s coal mines brought tough times but recent decades have seen the regeneration of its cities.

Things to do in Yorkshire

Yorkshire has a wealth of inspiring landscapes, ancient buildings and cultural connections.

Natural attractions

The Yorkshire Dales, within day trip distance of our Wood Hall Hotel & Spa, combine beautiful scenery with ancient history. Landscapes of moorland and meadows are divided by dry stone walls and peppered with picturesque villages and towns. The local geology breaks through in spectacular fashion at various limestone ‘pavements’. This includes at Malham Cove, close to another rocky wonder: Ingleborough Cave.

Favourite towns to stop in the Dales include Grassington with its cobbled market square, Skipton, which boasts one of the best-preserved medieval castles in the country and Richmond, where you’ll find a towering Norman fortress.

To the East, the North York Moors , close to our Crathorne Hall Hotel, are England’s largest expanse of heather moorland and turn purple with flowers in late summer. They are a perfect place to explore on foot or bike.

Literary connections

It is no wonder those windswept, craggy landscapes inspired the Brontë sisters. Charlotte, Emily and Anne lived at Haworth in West Yorkshire where you can still visit their home, now the Bronte Parsonage Museum. The classics Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall were famously penned here.

The Pennine Way passes through Brontë Country but, for a shorter walk, choose part of the 40 mile Bronte Way to take in buildings believed to have inspired the houses of Wuthering Heights.

Yorkshire’s other great literary setting is on the coast. Whitby is a picture perfect seaside town with dark associations with vampires due to its starring role in Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. Join a literary walking tour or simply wander the cobbled streets and climb the 199 steps for sea views from the dramatic ruined abbey on the cliff. You can also discover more about explorer Captain Cook in a dedicated museum.

Marine life

The scenic Cleveland Way walking trail passes along the coast between Scarborough and Saltburn.

In summer, boat trips from Whitby will take you in search of seals and even whales, once hunted in these waters.

You can discover more marine life at Hull’s striking modern aquarium The Deep and about the city’s maritime heritage in its museums. Nearby market town Beverley is another of Yorkshire’s medieval stunners.

Historical attractions

Between the Dales and Moors you’ll find the city of Ripon with its seventh century cathedral and quaint streets. What’s more, it’s handily close to the famous Victorian spa town of Harrogate. Still today you can soak in the sulphurous waters under the Moorish arches of the historic Harrogate Turkish Baths. Of course, if you’re looking for spa hotels in Yorkshire, our Wood Hall Hotel & Spa has all you need for on site pampering.

In York, take in the magnificent Gothic cathedral York Minster and walk the medieval city walls. You can also learn about the local Viking heritage at The Yorkshire Museum. Here you’ll find artefacts from important hoards and one of the best preserved Viking swords in the world. If you have children with you, step back in time to 10th century York at the immersive Jorvik Viking Centre.

The National Railway Museum, also in York, boasts the world’s finest collection of gleaming vintage locomotives. Further northeast, Darlington’s Head of Steam Railway Museum stands on the route of the world's first steam-powered passenger railway and displays Stephenson’s Locomotion, which opened the line in 1825.

In fact, Yorkshire has several vintage train routes you can still take today. Perhaps you’ll choose a trip on the Settle to Carlisle railway, which bisects the Dales, the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, which passes through the Brontës’ Haworth, or on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway between Pickering and Whitby. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, don’t miss Goathland Station where the boy wizard arrived on the Hogwarts Express in the films. The village itself was made famous by TV’s Heartbeat.

To learn about Yorkshire’s industrial heritage, descend 140 metres into England's last deep coal mine at the National Coal Mining Museum in Overton, near Wakefield.

Among Yorkshire’s stately homes, Castle Howard, near York has been well-loved since it appeared in the ’80s BBC adaptation of Brideshead Revisited. Meanwhile Georgian Harewood House, with its Capability Brown designed grounds, is just 20 minutes from our Wood Hall Hotel & Spa.

You can discover more ancient history right on the doorstep of our Crathorne Hall Hotel, where neighbouring Mount Grace Priory was once home to medieval monks.

Art galleries

If you’re an arts lover, plan a visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park at Wakefield, where modern works from the likes of Ai Weiwei, Antony Gormley, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore are spread over 500 acres. Nearby, you’ll find The Hepworth Wakefield gallery in the sculptor’s birth town.

Other major galleries include the Henry Moore Institute and neighbouring Leeds Art Gallery and Bradford’s Salt Mills, home to the largest collection of David Hockney’s work.

Shopping in Yorkshire

Leeds is among the best cities to shop in the UK, boasting beautiful Victorian arcades, a Harvey Nichols and the largest John Lewis outside of London.

For designer brands like Louis Vuitton and Vivienne Westwood, browse the arcades of the Victoria Quarter - a vision in marble, mosaic, wrought iron and stained glass.

For independent boutiques, head to the Leeds Corn Exchange and Kirkgate Market. The latter is Grade 1 listed and has the distinction of being Europe’s largest indoor market and the place where Michael Marks of Marks & Spencer fame first traded.

Another historic indoor shopping venue is the vast Georgian Piece Hall in Halifax, where you’ll find homewares, jewellery, fashion and more.

Salt Mills in Bradford is a further heritage building stuffed with independent traders and is part of the Saltaire World Heritage Site that preserves Yorkshire’s industrial past.

In York, old streets make for atmospheric browsing. Enter The Shambles, where some timber framed buildings date back to the 14th century, and you may believe you have stumbled into Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley (indeed there are a few magic shops!) In the nearby Shambles Market you’ll find everything from flowers to vintage wares.

Over the festive season, York’s St Nicholas Fayre with wooden chalets selling handmade gifts is among the most popular Christmas Markets in the UK and can be combined with a visit to the Christkindelmarkt at Leeds. Grassington meanwhile hosts a Dickensian Festival – back for its 40 th anniversary in 2021.

Every part of Yorkshire has its specialism. Antiques in Harrogate, jet jewellery in Whitby and Asian fabrics in Bradford are among the enticements.

Our Wood Hall Hotel & Spa is particularly well placed for a Yorkshire shopping break, with Leeds, York and Harrogate each within around half an hour.

Eating and drinking

The Dales have many cosy inns, with log fires in the cooler months, fine places to linger over local ales and food. The 17th century Tan Hill Inn, reached by twisting country roads, has the distinction of being Britain’s highest pub at 528 metres above sea level.

The Dales are also home to Wensleydale cheese. You can visit the famous creamery and stay to eat in the Calvert’s Restaurant here.

A great Yorkshire institution is Bettys tea room in Harrogate, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2019. It has another five sister cafes around the county. Try a Fat Rascal, something like a rock cake. Of course, you can avoid the crowds with a leisurely afternoon tea at one of our own historic Yorkshire country house hotels.

The market town of Malton, around 20 minutes from York, draws many foodies including the likes of Antonio Carluccio and Prue Leith. Here The Talbot champions locally-sourced produce.

On the coast, Whitby is known for its seafood, including the smoked kippers we offer for breakfast at our Yorkshire hotels. You can also travel back to the ’50s with a knickerbocker glory at Scarborough’s wonderfully retro Harbour Bar ice-cream parlour.

Though it’s away from the sea, the Leeds town of Yeadon nonetheless boasts the Oldest Fish & Chip Shop in the World!

After something a little different? Book an exclusive dinner in the shark tunnel at The Deep in Hull, or, returning for 2021, a meal in the vintage Pullman dining carriages of the North Yorkshire Moors railway.

For a really relaxed dining experience look no further than our own Yorkshire hotels. In gorgeous period surroundings you can savour the best locally-sourced dishes, like wood pigeon from the Dales, pork from Bishop Auckland and cheeses from Harrogate. In the home of the Yorkshire pudding, naturally we also serve a fine Sunday lunch!

Staying in Yorkshire

Planning a visit to Yorkshire? Our Crathorne Hall Hotel and Wood Hall Hotel & Spa and are now taking bookings for stays with breakfast, dinner and everything in between. These historic buildings have everything you need for an idyllic staycation in Yorkshire.

Crathorne Hall Hotel at Yarm, North Yorkshire is:

  • An AA Four Red Star inspector's choice country house hotel
  • Set in 15 acres on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors, with Leven Valley views
  • Just a short drive from the A67 junction of the A19
  • A handy three miles from Yarm train station
  • Relaxed, with a 3pm check in and 11am check out
  • Dog-friendly, with allocated rooms with easy access to the grounds
  • Handy for drivers, with complimentary onsite parking and an electric car charge point

Contact us to find out more or book a room.

Wood Hall Hotel & Spa at Wetherby, West Yorkshire is:

  • An AA Four Red Star inspector's choice country house hotel
  • Conveniently located just 30 minutes from Leeds, Harrogate and York
  • A fine place to relax with its own Health Club and Spa
  • Easily accessible from the A1
  • Dog-friendly, with allocated rooms with easy access to the grounds
  • Handy for drivers, with complimentary onsite parking and electric car charging

Contact us to find out more or book a room.