Harrogate West Park Hotel

"Black pudding, fat rascals, Slingsby's Gin
and Harrogate fudge sauce."

by Mike Gerrard

Harrogate's West Park Hotel
All Photos (c) Donna Dailey

Black pudding, fat rascals, Slingsby's Gin and Harrogate fudge sauce. Harrogate in North Yorkshire is a spa town which boomed as an upmarket tourist destination thanks to its health-giving spa waters. The waters were discovered in 1571 and it became England's first spa town, even before the likes of Cheltenham, Malvern, Bath and Royal Leamington Spa. Yorkshire's spa attracted an elite group of visitors who would partake of the spa waters and, from 1897, indulge themselves in the splendours of the Turkish Baths, an addition to the town inspired by what some of the spa towns of Europe were offering their visitors. 

Harrogate's Ornate Turkish Baths

The Turkish Baths are still one of Harrogate's star attractions, and you can sample the spa waters at the Pump Room Museum. I did do, once, several years ago, and if warm sulphurous water is your idea of a good time then you're welcome to it. Personally I prefer a gin and tonic.

I was able to indulge my unhealthy activities at places like the brand new Spirit of Harrogate gin shop, the inevitable visit to Betty's Tea Room, and in the excellent restaurant at Harrogate's latest boutique hotel, just a 5-minute walk from Betty's, The West Park. Our stylish modern room offered a view over The Stray, Harrogate's magnificent park and gardens, and when the view disappeared after dark we could indulge instead in lolling in the bath while watching TV, the ultimate decadent hotel experience.

There was more decadence downstairs in West Park's bar and restaurant, which even on a Monday evening was buzzing with diners and drinkers, and we were glad we'd been able to reserve a table as hotel guests. The whole scene undermined Harrogate's image as a sedate spa town where elderly visitors want nothing more exciting than lunch at Betty's and a bit of shopping. The cocktail menu offered Pornstar Martinis, Margaritas, Long-Island Iced Teas and a Smokey Old-Fashioned, using quality spirits like Woodford Reserve Bourbon and Hendrick's Gin. For anyone used to London prices, cocktails were £4.50 during Happy Hour (Sunday-Thursday 5-7pm), and who wouldn't be happy at those prices?

The quality continued with the food. My starter of black pudding and bacon salad with soft-boiled quail egg and watercress managed to be both light and full of contrasting flavours, and my wife raved over her baked queenie scallops with a garlic and parsley sauce and a cheddar and gruyere crust.

The mains ranged from simple things like burgers and steaks through to classier options such as honey and fennel glazed chicken breast or a charcoal-baked sea bass. We can never resist venison, though, and the seared venison loin with wild mushrooms, an unusual and yummy caramelised beetroot, crushed celeriac and a blackberry jus was an intriguing mix of unexpected flavours showing quality ingredients and perfectly tender venison.

There was no room for desserts but of course we had them anyway, my wife declaring her Bakewell tart the best she'd ever had, while my own sticky toffee pudding with Harrogate fudge sauce and vanilla bean custard may have been a familiar pudding option but was way above the quality you'd expect from a hotel restaurant.

So, Harrogate a sedate and snooty spa town? Think again. Think classy cocktails and cuisine, and a cool new boutique hotel.

More Information

See the West Park Hotel website.

For more information on Harrogate and the surrounding area see the Visit Harrogate website.

See All Our Harrogate Pages

How to Get from London to Harrogate

Harrogate's Kitchen Garden

West Park Hotel

Van Zeller Restaurant
West Park Hotel

Check Our England Book Reviews

Buy Our Best Day Trips from London Guide

The Ten Best Day Trips from London is a Kindle guide to the most popular attractions in England that can be easily reached and enjoyed in one day. It focuses on the practical information, telling you how to get to your destination by train, by coach, or by driving - and recommends the best choice to make.

For all ten destinations there are direct links to coach and bus timetables, the cheapest fares, and direct booking options for tickets. This travel guide also recommends the best things to see and do in each destination, with links to websites for opening hours and admission prices. 

The Kindle guide includes over 40 colour photos and 11 colour locator maps, showing you where every place is in relation to London.

Buy the guide at Amazon UK, Amazon USA or other Amazon stores worldwide.

Connect with Us on Google+

Recent Articles

  1. Floors Castle

    Dec 26, 16 03:03 AM

    Beyond London Travel visits Floors Castle near Kelso in the Scottish Borders, family home of the Duke of Roxburghe and one of VisitScotland's 5-star visitor attractions, a Scottish Downton Abbey.

    Read More

  2. Beyond London Travel Books

    Dec 04, 16 12:37 PM

    The Beyond London Travel Books page reviews guidebooks, history, mysteries and fiction to help readers enjoy their visits to England, the UK, France, and beyond.

    Read More

  3. Food Trails Book Review

    Dec 04, 16 12:20 PM

    Beyond London Travel reviews Food Trails, a new guidebook from Lonely Planet for the culinary traveller which helps you plan 52 Perfect Weekends in the world's tastiest destinations.

    Read More