gardens at the principal york

The Principal York Hotel Review (2022)

If you’re looking for a unique stay in York, The Principal York by IHG hotels won’t disappoint you.

Its location is fantastic as it’s a minute walk from York train station and close to York´s main attractions such as York City Walls, York Minster and Garden Museums. 

The Principal isn’t only a hotel, but it’s an iconic building that also represents the city. The Victorian architecture of its facade is beautiful, but the interior is even better – filled with elegant and luxurious touches. 

In this blog, I am going to tell you about my stay at The Principal York as well as why you should choose this hotel during your York city break.

The Principal York Hotel Review (2022) The Principal York Hotel Review (2022)

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A hotel review of The Principal York

Rooms at The Principal York

When you enter the Principal you’ll be welcomed by friendly and attentive staff to do your check-in and know your way around the hotel.

The hotel has 155 beautifully decorated rooms: standard rooms, premium rooms and suites that have all the essentials you need, and in each of the rooms, you’re always welcomed with a tuck box.

I stayed at the Junior Suite, considered one of the best rooms in the hotel, and I had the best night’s sleep ever.

Although you can see the room is impressive by the photos, it only gets better when you step into it.

The Junior Suite makes you feel like you’re at home. It’s very spacious, and you have basically everything except a kitchen.

The room is decorated in a classic but modern way – beautiful pictures hanging on the walls, bookshelves and a comfortable long sofa.

It’s also well-equipped with flatscreen TV, kettle, telephone, en-suite bathroom with a rainforest shower and spacious bath.

The king-size bed and abundant pillows are very comfortable, and they guarantee you an excellent sleep at night.

One of my favourite things about this room is the stunning views of York Minster and the hotel’s garden with a lovely fountain in the middle. 

The Principal York Hotel Review (2022) The Principal York Hotel Review (2022)

Facilities at The Principal York

The hotel has facilities such as an onsite restaurant and bar, lobbies, spa and indoor swimming pool, meeting room and parking.

I loved sitting down in the lobby next to the stairs and watching guests and staff passing by. It was relaxing, and I was amazed by the sophisticated decoration.

The hotel stairs are very famous for being one of the most photographed stairs in York! The beautiful carpet, the mirrors on the wall and the hanging lamp make it so special! 

There’s no doubt why many people – including brides – take pictures at these stairs.



Who doesn’t love to start the day with a delicious breakfast? Well, breakfast at The Principal is amazing.

It’s a self-service breakfast with a wide variety of sweet and savoury dishes. You can have anything from a full English breakfast to a croissant with a coffee or cereals and fresh fruits.

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, they also have a good selection of dishes for you. 

Hot drinks such as coffee and tea as served by staff, but you can grab a glass of juice from the buffet selection.

Breakfast can be booked in advance or in reception. Be aware that it isn’t complimentary so there is an additional charge for breakfast.

If you prefer a laid-back morning, the hotel also offers room service.

Dinner at The Refectory

Having dinner in the Refectory Kitchen & Terrace is a delightful experience. 

They recently changed the menu, and this new menu focuses on high-quality local ingredients and offers delicious dishes, drinks and desserts to choose from.

I ordered the roasted aubergine salad with smoked tofu and pine nuts. Although I don’t usually order a salad for starters, it was a good option. The portion was generous, and the dish was prepared to perfection.

For main I had roasted cod loin with ratatouille in a smooth tomato sauce, pancetta and lentils. This was my favourite dish of the evening – the way it was served, the flavours and textures made me love this dish.

For dessert, I ordered the lemon tart with meringue and pear and ginger compote and there was no better way to finish my meal.

The staff was very attentive and friendly at all times, and they did make my experience better.

The Refectory opens for dinner from 6 pm to 10 pm and booking is required.

Swimming pool, sauna and gym

The hotel also offers leisure facilities such as a heated indoor swimming pool, a steam room, a jacuzzi, a sauna and a gym which are free for you to use during your stay.

If you’re up for a pamper session, book a beauty treatment (aromatherapy, massages, etc.) which are available every day except Saturdays.


The hotel offers spacious on-site parking which is charged at £15 per 24 hours.


Outside the hotel, you’ll find some beautiful gardens that are decorated with fairy lights and feature a lovely fountain in the middle.

It’s the perfect place to relax on a warm afternoon or take incredible photos with the hotel as background.

Best things to do close to The Principal York

Walking on York City Walls

The city is surrounded by medieval walls on which you can walk, and it’s in fact one of the best free things to do in York.

As you walk on the walls, you get different views of the city including an incredible view of York Minster. 

The best time to visit York City Walls is during weekdays as it can get very busy during the weekends, especially if it’s warm outside.

Not only the walls are incredible to contemplate the beautiful views of the city but to take scenic photos.

Visiting York Minster

This 7th-century Gothic cathedral is one of the largest in Northern Europe and is considered the birthplace of modern day Christianity.

The beautiful Gothic architecture is impressive to contemplate outside and in. Although there’s a fee to enter York Minster, it’s worth visiting it.

You’ll be amazed by its detailed interior architecture as well as its colourful stained-glass masterpiece. 

York Minster view

Exploring The Shambles

The Shambles, York oldest’s street, can’t be missed on your itinerary. This street takes you back to medieval times with its cobblestone path and half-timbered buildings. 

Nowadays, you’ll find the quirkiest shops in the town. Whether you love collecting ghost miniatures or you’re a Harry Potter fan, you can buy unique gifts in shops like The Shop That Must Not Be Named.

If you’re a fan of toffee, I must warn you that you’ll end up buying some. The smell is irresistible and it’s fascinating watching how toffee is made.

Related blog post: Top Free Things To Do In York You Don’t Want To Miss

Relaxing at Garden Museums

If you’re visiting York in spring or autumn, you must go to the Garden Museums (considering it’s a sunny day). 

Here not only can you relax or have a picnic but explore sights like the Yorkshire Museum, the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey. 

It’s a lovely place to wander around as the foliage changes and leaves fall in autumn. Whereas you’ll love the blossom season in spring. 

No matter when you go, it’s likely you’ll see friendly squirrels running around the gardens and looking for a treat.

Museum Gardens in York

Going on a boat tour

Another way to enjoy York from a different perspective is by going on a boat tour on the River Ouse.

There are many incredible cruise tours that offer different experiences – from 1-hour tour to an evening dinner cruise.

My favourite is the York Afternoon Tea Cruise, an hour and a half cruise in which you can enjoy a traditional British afternoon tea that includes homemade sandwiches, delicious mini desserts, a fruit scone with jam and cream, and of course, tea.

In addition to the fabulous food, you’ll learn about the history and culture of York from a local.

If you have any questions or you want advice about travelling in York, reach me on my email or Instagram, I’m always happy to help others plan their trips.

Safe adventures!

Cristina xx

Disclaimer: My stay with The Principal York was a PR invite. However, all opinions shared in this post are my own.

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Questions about The Principal York Hotel

How much is breakfast at The Principal York Hotel?

Breakfast isn’t included in the room price. If you book in advance, it’ll cost you £12.95 per person, otherwise, it’ll be £15.95.

Is The principal York dog friendly?

Yes, you can bring your dog to the hotel by paying a £30 supplement. Your dog will be treated like a special guest. Not only will it receive a bowl and comfortable bed, but some treats too!

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  1. Ashleigh’s Atlas says:

    This looks beautiful, hope I can stay there one day 😊

  2. I absolutely love York! I hope to return one day and I’ll definitely keep this gorgeous hotel in mind when I do 🙂

  3. This looks like a stunning hotel in York to stay at! We’ll definitely keep this in mind when we go in the summertime.

  4. Elena Pappalardo says:

    What a lovely hotel experience you’ve had! I adore the Victorian architecture and the main stairwell is stunning. I’d also love to visit the Garden Museums.

  5. Rose Campau says:

    That looks like a perfect getaway for Spring! I definitely didn’t spend enough time exploring York the last time I came through – I’ll have to check this place out for a longer stay.

  6. ANUKRATI DOSI says:

    I wish to stay here one day. You have described the property quite beautifully.

  7. Alaina Thomas says:

    Everything looks beautiful at this hotel – from the architecture to the surrounding attractions to the food!

  8. Stunning hotel! That grand foyer reminds me of like a great gatsby location. I’m definitely going to consider this hotel for my next anniversary.

  9. I haven’t been to York but this definitely seems like the place to stay! The gardens and the restaurant look wonderful. Definitely saving for later!

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