It's been awhile since I took a trip in the UK. I'm really good at getting out of the country, but I'm not so good at staying in it. That trend changed over the weekend, though, when a friend's play in Leeds gave me an excuse to head north.
Having already been to Leeds, I wanted to stay somewhere outside of the city. I had read about Harrogate, a historic Yorkshire spa town, and thought it would be a good alternative to its larger southern neighbor. It was.
We drove up to Harrogate on Saturday morning, stopping in Leicester for lunch and arriving in town in the late afternoon. My boyfriend and I immediately fell in love with our lodging, an apartment in The Lawrance's Duchy House. We were in a gorgeous suite with beautiful decor, and every detail from the silk throw pillows to the Philippe Starck bathrooms to the bottle of milk in the fridge was exactly what we were hoping for.
My boyfriend, who was so kind as to drive us from London to Harrogate, immediately collapsed into the goose-down-and-Egyptian-cotton-goodness that was our bed and settled in for a two hour nap. Obsessed with the apartment's gorgeous details and the beautiful light coming in through the windows, I spent awhile taking pictures of the rooms before heading into Harrogate to explore.
Duchy House was only a few minutes' walk from the main part of Harrogate, so I had ample time to wander around the town while my boyfriend got his beauty rest. I started at the Royal Baths (now somewhat confusingly a Chinese restaurant), and made my way through the main shopping areas before coming to a stretch of green with beautiful historic buildings on all sides.
From there I passed the famous Betty's Tea Rooms and made my way down the hill to a perfectly manicured park. I took a stroll along the tiny stream with its lush greenery and up to a fountain that was surrounded by beds of bright yellow and red flowers.
When I got back to The Lawrance, I dragged my sleeping boyfriend out of bed and we enjoyed Betty's coffee and tea and the apartment's free Wi-Fi until it was time to drive to Leeds.
Once in Leeds we met up with our friends, who were staying there for the night. We all headed to the West Yorkshire Playhouse to see Hay Fever, a Noel Coward play in which our friend starred as a member of a highly dysfunctional family that invites house guests over for the weekend with disastrous results. The play was great, so much so that we didn't feel bad about missing the USA vs. England match in World Cup.
After the play we went for a surprisingly good dinner at a nearby restaurant called Aagrah. It was nice to catch up with our actor friend and the food was so good that we couldn't stop eating until we were well past the point of satiety. After an aborted attempt to find an open pub for a post-dinner pint, we drove back up to Harrogate ready for a good night of sleep.
The next morning our friends came up on the train from Leeds and the four of us went to Betty's Tea Rooms for a late breakfast. The tea rooms are somewhat of an institution in Harrogate, and we enjoyed a big breakfast and a side of their signature dish, the fat rascal (no, it's not a rodent, it's a scone with lots of fruit and other goodness in it).
After breakfast we went back to the park I had found the previous day and took another walk. As if the half-hour stroll actually burned off a single calorie of the bearnaise sauce from our eggs Benedict, we stopped at Cupcakes by Charlie for vanilla sundae and sticky toffee pudding cupcakes on the way back through town.
At last in food coma, the four of us walked back to The Lawrance and picked up our car. Waving good-bye to the beautiful apartment and the lovely historic buildings of Harrogate, we made or way down through England to London.
Despite the shortness of the trip, our weekend in Harrogate was a success. It was great to see our friend's play, and even yesterday my boyfriend was talking about how our apartment at The Lawrance was one of our best hotel stays ever. They're opening another property in York sometime this year, so we might just have to use that as an excuse to stay in the UK for a future trip.