Why the Inspector gives this perfectly located York hotel just 2 stars

Why the Inspector gives this perfectly located York hotel just 2 stars


The Inspector calls at a hotel in a ‘magnificent’ building that’s perfectly placed for exploring York’s highlights… but he complains that it feels ‘dull and corporate’

  • The Inspector checks into The Grand hotel, which lies near York train station 
  • The building it occupies was once home to the North Eastern Railway Company
  • Remember, he pays his way… and tells it like it is

Big expectation about The Grand hotel on the short walk from York train station. And, then, there it is — a huge and magnificent building dating from 1906 and once the home of the North Eastern Railway Company.

But it’s not long before much of that giddy expectation is cast asunder. This 200-odd-room hotel, perfectly placed for York’s highlights, is neither traditional nor modern and, although millions were spent on it four years ago, it still feels dull and corporate.

At reception, I ask specifically for a room with a window that opens. ‘Not a problem,’ I am told. But there is a problem. 

The window opens only two inches and then slams shut as soon as you let go — so I use the stack of complimentary mags as a wedge.

The Inspector calls at The Grand hotel in York, which is housed in a ‘huge and magnificent’ building that was once the home of the North Eastern Railway Company

The room itself is neat and tidy but lacking in character. A panel of shiny new wood stands behind the bed, similar to what you find in airport hotels. And the overly complicated basin tap in the bathroom, with a separate lever for temperature control, is ridiculous. 

But the super-wide corridors are impressive. You could drive a bus down them. And the sweeping stone central staircase gives the place gravitas.

There are two restaurants — a fancy one called Legacy offering an eight-course tasting menu for £120 per person, with the further option of a £90 ‘prestige wine flight’, or The Rise brasserie with open kitchen and ‘interiors inspired by York’s local heritage, creating a soft industrial dining room’ — whatever that might mean.

 The Inspector describes the hotel as ‘neither traditional nor modern’ 

The 200-odd-room hotel is perfectly placed for exploring York’s highlights, such as Shambles (above)


The Grand, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GD. Doubles are priced from £157. For more information, call 01904 380038.

Rating out of five: **

First, I enjoy a drink in the 1906 bar (all the lampshades have 1906 printed on them), where I ask to see The Rise menu, with a view to ordering before walking up to the restaurant.

‘Sorry, you can’t do that,’ says the apologetic barman. So I accompany my drink up the steps to the restaurant and order from there. Brown is the predominant colour in The Rise — perhaps that’s the ‘soft industrial’ look kicking in.

No complaints about my duck cassoulet with beans and kale, and service is fast and efficient. As it is the next morning with an excellent breakfast buffet.

Unlike in the evening, there’s a morning buzz in the main reception area, where a concierge and doorman rush about, and a porter wheels guests’ luggage to the door.

The Grand claims to be York’s only five-star hotel. We all know that the star rating system means little.

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