Escape to the relaxed spa town of Harrogate

Fancy a chilled weekend away steeped full of history and charm? Then Harrogate is the place for you. Harrogate is a relaxed spa town in North Yorkshire, approximately a three-hour train ride from central London with its station conveniently located in the heart of town. Harrogate is known not only for its spa waters but also for its lush open spaces, which most likely added to it being ranked by a property website as the ‘happiest place to live’ in Britain. It’s very easy to get around with all the major sights and activities within walking distance. If you’re in Harrogate for a few days here are some suggestions of where to eat, stay, see and explore.

Harrogate - Bettys Shop
Bettys Tea Rooms

Eat

Bettys Tea Rooms
No trip to Harrogate would be complete without a stop at this legendary Tea Rooms. Founded in 1919, Bettys is a family owned business known for its Afternoon Teas and cakes. Here you’ll also find traditional Yorkshire classics such as Pikelets (a flat type of crumpet) and Fat Rascals (cakey type of scone). I opted for Cream Tea and very good it was too. It’s a bustling place so expect to queue if you haven’t made a reservation, but it’s totally worth the wait.

Harrogate - The Yorkshire Meatball Company

Yorkshire Meatball Company

Yorkshire Meatball Co.
The Yorkshire Meatball Co. is an award-winning restaurant run by father and son team David and Gareth Atkinson. It offers something different to other restaurants in the area with its focus firmly on the humble meatball. The Yorkshire Puddings are also top quality. It’s no fuss cooking set in a trendy, hipster and buzzy environment.

Harrogate - Rafis Spicebox
Rafi’s Spicebox

Rafi’s Spicebox
This may seem an odd one, but I really loved this shop. It’s located in an area of Harrogate which is slightly less touristy, on a street lined with a butchers, cheese shop and restaurants and seems to be where most of the locals shop as it has a real sense of community. Anyway, Rafi’s Spicebox is a family run business specialising in handmade mixes for home-cooked curries. They have a range of mixes from Korma to Vindaloo and all you need do is add your meat or veg. I highly recommend the Vindaloo, full of flavour with nicely balanced spices. Another bonus is that it should easily last your journey home.

Harrogate - SPork VindalooHome-cooked Pork Vindaloo using
Rafi’s Spicebox Vindaloo Mix

Harrogate - Weetons

Weetons Food Hall

Weetons
Weetons is a café, deli, food hall, and butchers stocking and serving local produce. It’s a bit like a mini Selfridges, but far more relaxed. It overlooks the Stray, which is one of Harrogate’s great open parks and if you opt to eat or drink go for a table outside (weather permitting) as it’s a lovely spot to while away the hours.

Stay

The West Park Hotel
You’ll so want to stay in this modern, stylish and friendly hotel. The hotel also overlooks the Stray and I stayed in the Wharfe Room located on the first floor at the front with prime views of the Stray. The room is large and the bed big and comfy. The bathroom is also generously sized, with underfloor heating and speakers that connected to the large screen TV and it’s all rather luxurious.

Harrogate - West Park Hotel Bedroom
The West Park Hotel

Harrogate - The West Park Hotel Dinner

Fillet of Halibut Potato Galette, Samphire,
Sugar Snaps and 
Shellfish Beurre Blanc

Harrogate - The West Park Hotel Food
Dining at The West Park Hotel

The food on the whole is good, but tries a little too hard in places especially with their take on a Scotch egg which had way too much going on: egg wrapped in sausage meat, wrapped in back bacon and smothered with BBQ sauce. No. Just no! But, they make up for that with stellar breakfasts and superb mains like fillet of halibut, with potato galette, samphire, sugar snaps and shellfish sauce, along with fab desserts such as homemade sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and honeycomb ice cream. So good it leaves any haunting memories of the Scotch egg firmly behind. The hotel also has a very decent bar and chill area if you don’t fancy venturing out.

See

The Pump Room
The Pump Room is a museum and the place to visit to learn about the history of Harrogate. It’s also home to two mineral-rich wells and there are tours that take you down to see them. It’s pongy down there, but ‘well’ worth a look.

Harrogate - Pump Room
The Pump Room

Valley Gardens
The Valley Gardens is the perfect place to wander around taking in all 17 acres of it – if so inclined. There’s a skate park and kids’ playground and it also hosts events. The Art Deco Sun Pavilion is worth a look, and can be hired out. There was a beautiful wedding reception taking place when I strolled past.

Harrogate - Valley Gardens Pavillion

Valley Gardens (Sun Pavilion on right)

Explore

Turkish Baths
Take the plunge in the last remaining working spa in Harrogate. The Turkish Baths and Health Spa is the perfect place to relax – in either the sauna or steams rooms, or both. Or simply chill on one of the loungers. They offer treatments too if you really want to make use of your time there.

Harrogate - Turkish Baths
Turkish Baths

Slingsby Gin Experience
William Slingsby discovered Harrogate’s first well in 1571, with the water believed to have health benefits. So it was only natural that Slingsby Gin, which came onto the market in 2014, was named after him. Twenty four botanicals go into making the smooth but complex gin and if you’d like to get a gin-flavoured taste of Harrogate, then the Spirit of Harrogate store is a must visit. Here you can learn about the history of gin, with some interesting facts thrown in as well as getting a taste of their signature cocktail made by their top mixologists. You can also make your own too. It’s a really fun experience.

harrogate-slingsby-gin-bottle1

Slingsby Gin

Harrogate - Slingsby Gin
Slingsby Gin Experience

Have you been to Harrogate? Any of your favourites not on the list?

With thanks to Visit Harrogate for organising this trip.

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