For a gloriously genteel day out, Harrogate has you covered. The North Yorkshire spa town has been a high-society stop-off for centuries, ever since its curative waters put it on the map. Sink into thermal baths, stroll through manicured gardens, dip in and out of art galleries and antiques shops then sit down to afternoon tea at Bettys Café Tea Rooms – this bastion of bone-china cups and delicate desserts is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. Convinced? Here’s an itinerary for the perfect day in Harrogate.
A perfect day in Harrogate
Take to the waters at Harrogate’s original Turkish Baths, which have seen more royals than the pages of Tatler. The incredible 1897 interiors have recently been restored to their opulent, terrazzo-tiled former glory. Just don’t rock up in your robes at the Royal Baths next door (that’s a Chinese restaurant).
Craft beer and stone-baked pizzas are on the menu at indie café-bar Major Tom’s Social, while William & Victoria does a first-rate Sunday roast with some notable wines. For food to go, pop into butcher’s shop Addyman – Keith Addyman serves up a hearty dose of banter alongside Harrogate’s best pork pies.
Go to Bettys Café Tea Rooms. Don’t be put off by the queue that curves round the building; it’s worth the wait for the nostalgic interiors and fat rascals (they’re like rock cakes). This is where the Bettys story began back in 1919, so it’d be rude not to plump for the full, pinky-in-the-air afternoon-tea experience.
When you’ve had your fill of spa treatments and fat rascals, head out into the lush countryside that surrounds Harrogate to rest up in this totally dreamy location. A woodland garden dotted with eighteenth-century follies, grottos and mock ruins, Hackfall is Grade I listed. One of the buildings, high on a hill with impressive views over the ornamental landscape, has been restored and turned into a tiny home. From the front, it looks like a little gothic banqueting house; from the rear, it’s a hulking, rugged ‘ruin’. The three rooms within are entirely separate from each other, so guests must step out on to the outside terrace to move between them – even for a middle-of-the-night trip to the loo. From £318 for four nights.