Oozing style and charm, the spa town of Harrogate just begs to be walked, so best oblige since you’ll be tempted to “stop and smell the roses” at one gorgeous garden after another. The locals are justifiably proud of living in “England’s Floral Town” and everywhere you look there are beautifully tended public parks and exquisite gardens spilling over with sweet-smelling flowers.
The shopping opportunities are endless and the town’s social calendar is overflowing with delightful girlie offerings, such as summer afternoon Tea Dances in the park’s wisteria-filled Sun Pavilion, free outdoor Opera performances at the Royal Horticultural Gardens, and a profusion of concerts, theater and festivals happening throughout the year.
We were thrilled with the Hotel du Vin, which really felt like our home for the next few days. Cobbled together from eight old Georgian homes, the classically elegant rooms had comfy handsprung mattresses clad in the finest Egyptian linens and a refreshing monsoon shower. We didn’t have a chance to take advantage of their spa, but overheard a rave review about from a guest about her life-changing “Indian head massage.”
Breakfast was a tasty combo of a fruit, cereal and homemade pastry buffet and some excellent ala carte choices. The only prob was that the Bistro was severely understaffed, so plan some extra time.
Tea at Betty’s: this family institution has been serving well satisfied customers in their wonderful tea rooms since 1919. My sister loves a full tea and pronounced this one of the best ever. (See what she scarfed down in the above picture.) Of course, we also snuck in a welsh rarebit oozing cheese, a delish fresh rocket (arugula) and tommy salad and then shared one “Fat Rascal” -the house specialty. This lovely scone- like cookie sports two
cherry eyes, with almonds for the nose and mouth and is served warm with a generous pat of butter. Sis wanted to eat all her three squares at Betty’s and had it not been totally unprofessional, I might have succumbed. Instead, we stocked up on some gorgeously wrapped spicy ginger shortbread squares for (heh heh) gift-giving?
Next time, we’re definitely signing up for one of their popular cooking classes, where you can learn how to make a everything from a proper Christmas mincemeat tart with rum sauce to a beef & ale pie.