The problem with our pampered pooches these days is that they don’t know they’re born. In the past, when us humans booked a trip away, our furry chums would have been shipped off to sulk and whine in the nearest kennel.
Thankfully, nowadays more and more hotels allow its esteemed guests to bring their cherished hairy babies in tow, so the whole family can enjoy a jolly jaunt. Numerous high-end establishments have raised the drawbridge and opened up their hallowed halls to man’s best friend - and none come more high-end than The Grand, York, writes Lisa Byrne.
Our Cocker Spaniels, Diggerley and Merlin, were lucky enough to accompany us for a stay at the city’s only five-star hotel, which was once the HQ for the North Eastern Railway Company.
As they sauntered towards its breathtaking entrance - The Grand is one of North Yorkshire’s most iconic Edwardian buildings, famed for its marble detailing and intricate stonework - Diggerley and Merlin stopped to receive a regal welcome from Wayne Brady, the loveliest doorman we’ve ever met. It’s clear why on a recent visit, Hollywood royalty Dame Joan Collins deemed staying at the hotel to be like residing at 'Downton Abbey'.
Diggerley and Merlin
This historic beauty has retained much original charm, despite a multi-million pound transformation which includes The Rise Restaurant, Terrace and Bar, a tranquil spa and a stunning cookery school. Standing majestically a short walk between York Minster and the station, The Grand is the perfect place to stay in luxury with your pooch, while exploring this beautiful city.
Even our dogs, who normally only react to food, walks and cuddles gazed in awe as they padded through the hotel, waggling their tails in approval at the sweeping staircases, parquet flooring and original wood panelling, harking back to the golden age of rail travel.
We were taken to our luxurious suite which included gorgeous views of the historic city, a huge bed, high-tech modern bathroom and dog beds and bowls. Canines are only allowed in the bedrooms and hallways, but if your dog is well behaved (i.e. not a barker) the hotel welcomes you to leave dogs in the room for short periods.
We found this the perfect excuse to visit the 1906 Bar - a fabulous place to chill over a cocktail. We highly recommend The 1906 Club (Mason’s Yorkshire gin, blackberry and raspberry tea foam, crème de violet and rose water).
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The salubrious Rise Restaurant, Terrace and Bar is also a great place to relax over a long, leisurely lunch or dinner, offering exquisite, locally sourced British classics. Don’t tell the dogs but we indulged in a splendid feast at The Rise.
A firm Byrne family favourite was the Smoked Pig Cheek with pickled mouli, chicory and orange as well with Lemon and Thyme Spatchcock Poussin from the grill to follow. However, the divine Baked Alaska was so ridiculously delicious, it could have developed into a dangerous addiction.
Apart from pooches, the hotel is a huge favourite among celebrities.
Staff are extremely discreet regarding both human and canine guests, but locals have spotted an array of Hollywood and British stars entering The Grand, including Hugh Grant, Russell Crowe and HRH Prince Andrew.
The Grand has recently opened a state-of-the-art £15million cookery school under the direction of Head Tutor Andrew Dixon, which has proved a huge attraction to both locals and visitors. Hidden away in the former vaults of the railway company is a secluded spa with products by Temple, offering an array of indulgent treatments.
What to do in York with your dog
York itself is one of the most beautiful cities in the world to bring your dog. It’s delightful to take a stroll through the Museum Gardens and Dean’s Park, just behind York Minster. Numerous restaurants and bars are dog friendly including The Nook on Castlegate, Shambles Tavern in the world-famous street and the appropriately named The Whippet Inn on North Street.
If your dog is happy enough to be left for a few hours back in the bedroom, a must-see is York Minster, the Castle Museum, JORVIK and York Dungeon. But as York has been proclaimed the most haunted city in the world watch out for ghoulies and ghosts, especially around this time of year.