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The Bar Convent, York
York's most unusual hotel is inside an 18th-century convent that is still the home of an order of nuns. Although the Bar Convent, just outside the city's walls, is run by lay staff, its guests may see some of the sisters. Bedrooms, converted from the original dormitories, are simply furnished although top rooms have some Olga Polizzi designer dash - the hotelier has a family connection with the schools run by the Catholic Order. Guests breakfast in the jolly café - home-cooked food and open to the public during the day - or in the Victorian 'winter garden', converted from the original courtyard. Cold supper plates can be ordered, or there's a kitchen for guests' use. Guests can explore the chapel and exhibition centre or relax in the charming garden. Not fancy, but excellent value.
The stretch of walls eastwards from Micklegate is one of the quieter sections and is a pleasant, meandering route into the city, if you're not in a hurry.
Located just outside of the city walls, most of York's major attractions are within 10 to 20 minutes of the hotel.
By car: 45 minutes from Leeds, 1 hour 20 minutes from Sheffield and just over an hour from Middlesborough. There is no on-site parking.
By train: York station is a five-minute walk away, with services from Newcastle (1 hour), Leeds (1 hour 15 minutes), London Kings Cross and Edinburgh (2 hours 30 minutes). thetrainline.com
Style & Character
Anyone who wants a friendly, no-frills, good-value base in the city with more guest-house than hostel atmosphere and who appreciates the unique value of their surroundings, will love it here. To be allowed to stay in England's oldest living convent - the order was established in 1686 - is a unique offer; throughout there's a palpable sense of history.
Service & Facilties
The staff are local so have expert knowledge whether you want tips on the best place for an ice cream or where to go for a quiet walk.
- Converted courtyard
- Charming garden
- Family rooms
- Board games
- Self-service kitchen
- Wine and beer at reception
- Exhibition Centre & shop
The rooms may be simple but they have thoughtful touches with good reading lights and fresh milk, and good storage and lighting in the bathrooms. We reccommend any of the rooms overlooking the rear garden or one of the Olga Polizzi-designed rooms with their breezy blue and grey colours, and smart, mosaic-tiled bathrooms.
Single, Twin, Double or Family Ensuite; Single, Twin or Double Room with shared bathroom; Superior Twin, Superior Double
Facilities include: flat-screen TV, ensuite or shared bathroom, tea/coffee making facilities, biscuits, towels, complimentary toiletries, hairdryer
Food & Drink
We love taking breakfast in the Victorian winter garden next to the café, with its glass canopy, bright tiled floor and big pots of ferns. The freshly baked scones are enormous; buy some to keep you going throughout the day - and maybe a slice of cake, too. Gluten-free options available.
The Bar Convent Cafè: tranquil seating in Victorian Atrium or winter garden, daily selection of homemade soups, sandwiches and specials with products from local suppliers. Open Monday-Saturday 8am-3pm, Full English breakfast from 8-10.30am. Lunch from £4.95.