B&B and Beyond: Poppleton House, York
A new guesthouse in a picture-book village offers a relaxed and indulgent way to visit York
Just on the outskirts of York, Nether Poppleton lives up to its picture-book name: the village is all traditional redbrick cottages, church spires, duck ponds and gnarled orchards. (Now a conservation area, these used to provide the fruit for the nearby Rowntree's factory.) Now, a freshly opened B&B, Poppleton House, provides a haven of country calm in the village – without a hint of chocolate-box chintz.
There are four rooms, prettily appointed in pale pastels. The largest, the Mulberry Room, has a view of its namesake, a rather fine mulberry tree. It's uncommonly roomy for a B&B, easily accommodating large polished wood wardrobes and dressing tables, and with elegant lemon and powder-blue furnishings, including heavy brocade curtains. Even these, however, cannot keep much warmth in – it's a chilly old Georgian building, so pack a jumper. Or just dive into the glorious sleigh bed; it enfolds you in a deep comforting embrace, with huge, squashy duvets and eiderdowns on top.
The en-suite bathroom is also spacious, with a shower and deep roll-top bath. There are nice touches: mini rubber ducks are ready to bob; towels are thick and soft. Come mid-afternoon, should you get peckish, a cake appears on the landing, and there are snacks and tea-making facilities in the rooms. Poppleton House isn't licensed, but a corkscrew and wine glasses are provided so you can bring your own. (Oddly, there were no water glasses, though.)
There's one long, gleaming wooden table for everyone to sit around, though with a two-hour breakfast window, you may well have it to yourself. On a sideboard are cereals, yoghurts and fruit, as well as delicious compote made from the fruit of that mulberry tree – not to be missed. Warm croissants are also available; the night before, choose meat or vegetarian options for a full English and how you want your eggs cooked.
Kath Doggett has lived at Poppleton House for "12-odd years" and clearly loves it. Her two grown-up sons have now fled the nest, so she decided to turn her home into a B&B, opening its doors in May. It's still home, however, to two very docile and friendly dogs, Tan and Abbey. Down to earth and friendly, Kath will recommend local walks or sights in York.
Amble round Nether Poppleton, to a Norman church and restored tithe barn, past a historic orchard and the Millennium Field full of metal bird sculptures. Ask Kath for longer cycle routes starting from the village. (There are bikes to borrow.)
York is the real attraction: it's a 15-minute drive, but the nearby Rawcliffe Bar Park & Ride is a less stressful option. Alternatively, a bus service runs from outside Poppleton House. A taxi costs about £12.
For an overview of York's historic charms, walk around the medieval walls, then visit the Minster (0844 939 0011; yorkminster.org). Gawp at its stunning Gothic grandeur for free, or pay to go inside (£14) or climb the tower (£6). Stroll along the higgledy-piggledy cobbled streets of The Shambles and Stonegate for unabashed quaintness. For families (or geeks), try the National Railway Museum (0844 815 3139; nrm.org.uk; free) and the Jorvik Viking Centre (01904 615505; jorvik-viking-centre.co.uk).
The pit stop
There are pubs in Nether Poppleton, but you'd be advised to head into York. Book in advance for the Blue Bicycle (01904 673990; thebluebicycle.com) or Melton's (01904 634341; meltons restaurant.co.uk) – both offer modern European food using local Yorkshire produce from about £40 a head. The sister of the latter, Melton's Too, offers less formal bistro dining. Similarly, Oscar's (01904 652002; oscarswinebar.com) provides tasty food in convivial surroundings.
For many, no visit to York is complete without a trip to Bettys tearooms (01904 659142; bettys.co.uk). Expect to queue, but its "Fat Rascal" scones, with peel and vine fruits, are worth it.
Legend has it there are 365 pubs in York. True or not, there's no shortage of drinking holes, from thick-beamed traditional inns such as the Black Swan (01904 679131; blackswanyork.com) and Ye Olde Starre Inne (01904 623063; originalpubco.com) to cocktail bars. Evil Eye Lounge (01904 640002; evileyelounge.com) sells a vast and imaginative range, and is about as cool and edgy as the city gets. It does great Thai food, too.
Poppleton House, 3 Main Street, Nether Poppleton, York, YO26 6HS (01904 781160; bbyork.co.uk). Doubles start at £80, including breakfast.
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