York is a city richly steeped in history – from the Medieval Shambles street with its bowed buildings and the soaring towers of York Minster, to the world-famous Jorvik Viking Centre where sights, sounds and even smells bring the ancient settlement back to life.
To these established tourist hot spots a new attraction was added last year – York’s Chocolate Story – an interactive celebration of the city’s long-lasting love affair with the creamy confectionery.
Just two hours journey from London King’s Cross on the East Coast mainline, the vibrant northern city boasts everything to make the perfect city break.
There’s a range of accommodation to suit all budgets, but for a real treat take a look at the Chocolate Breaks on the Visit York website. Each of the featured hotels – ranging from the bijou five-room Abbey Guest House on the banks of the Ouse to the 99-room Monkbar Hotel overlooking the ancient city walls – includes an extra choccy treat for guests booking via the site. Yum!
Yorkshire boasts the most Michelin starred restaurants of any English county – and gourmands staying in the city should check out The Black Swan at Oldstead a short drive away. It was awarded a star last year to go alongside its three AA rosettes. Back in the city, York Cocoa House tempts you to indulge in an array of sweet and savoury chocolate combinations and chocolate making workshops. Then there’s the Hairy Fig, a small café and deli – an ideal spot to enjoy lunch.
The history of chocolate and that of the city have been inextricably linked since 1725, when Mary Tuke set up a grocery shop in Walmgate. The business went from strength to strength, culminating in the point where the Tuke family sold the chocolate side on to Henry Isaac Rowntree in 1862. At the same time, Joseph Terry established Terry’s of York. Now, Rowntree’s and Terry’s are two brands synonymous with chocolate the world over, and today a billion Kit Kats are produced in the city each year.
Those with a sweet tooth and a passion for history can find out more about York’s fascinating chocolate heritage with a mouth-watering walk through time on York’s Chocolate Trail. Pick up a leaflet from where the trail starts at the Visitor Information Centre – or download one to your mobile or tablet at visityork.org/chocolate – and take in the sites that transformed the city’s fortunes.
The trail ends at York’s Chocolate Story (yorks chocolatestory.com) a must see for chocolate fans of all ages. Story Zone traces the journey from Central America to York, Factory Zone looks at how the cocoa bean is transformed into delicious chocolate – and you can create your own chocolates – while the Indulgence Zone features the chocolate Bar Café and Shop. For chocoholics young and old there’s never been a better time to book your break to York.
National Chocolate Week
This week-long celebration of all things chocolatey runs from 14-20 October, and York’s Chocolate Story will be at the forefront, boasting a whole host of activities for the whole family.
Among the highlights already announced are the chance to learn how to taste chocolate like a professional, watch chocolate sculpture demonstrations, as well as the opportunity to make your own delightful choccy treats. Also running from 3-20 October is Blood + Chocolate, a stunning theatrical performance that will take place around the city. The production is based around the employers and employees of York’s chocolate factories during the First World War.