Harrogate Spa Town, YorkshireEnglish spa towns are often good-looking, affluent places; and Harrogate in the heart of Yorkshire is no exception. The grand Georgian buildings, huge selection of designer shops, and variety of wonderfully distinctive and quality restaurants make this quaint and historic town a delight to visit, not to mention the friendliness of the locals.
The evening we arrived, we ate at the lovely French restaurant Le Bistrot Pierre. With their traditional French menu there is a great selection of fine authentic cuisine including the delicious tarte flambee - an Alasatian type of thin crust pizza often with creme fraiche, onions, shallots, and lardons. The service was excellent and everyone was so friendly and accepting of our new little bundle of joy. Although she was very good and didn't make a sound. She was oblivious to all the attention she was getting!
After a good breakfast buffet at the Yorkshire Hotel and some shopping in the morning, we joined the queue outside Betty's Tearooms in Parliament Street for lunch. It looked long but it moved quickly; there's more room than it first seems. Again, they were very accommodating and welcoming of us arriving with a baby, and the toilets are well equipped with baby-changing and a nice little seating area where I took the opportunity to feed the little one. We were seated in the downstairs area and the service was very attentive. I was also taken by the stunning wood-carving artwork featuring Swiss villages and local Yorkshire sights, all around the room. The food was delicious - my authentic Swiss rosti all crispy on the top with strong Gruyere cheese, and the patisserie selection is perfection - as close to genuine French patisserie as you can get.
In the afternoon we took a walk down to the Valley Gardens, passing the old Pump Room, and through the arty, affluent Montpellier quarter. We enjoyed some fresh air and the autumn leaves glowed in late afternoon sunshine. These gardens lie on a fault line and the mineral-rich spring water comes from this very area, a river of it trickling beside one of the main pathways. Spring water emerges through the layers of rock, collecting valuable minerals along the way, its benefits having been harnessed for centuries. The wells and pump houses within the park and the signs and information make the spa history tangible and easy to understand.
On my next visit I hope to enjoy the traditional and well-preserved Turkish Baths and experience the benefits of the spring water. My skin and hair already feel nicer and that's just after simply showering in the hotel! I also want to see the unusual rock formations at Brimham Rocks. But of course we'll also be sure to go back to Betty's!