A (dog-friendly) break in Harrogate

For no real reason other than foolishness, I’d never been to Harrogate before. And now, I can’t wait to go back.

We had reason to celebrate, so decided to treat ourselves to a night away, just the two of us. But then we decided to bring his royal fluffiness, our cavapoo Otis, and make it a real family affair. We’d long talked about checking out Harrogate and a quick bit of research confirmed it would fit the bill for a dog-friendly place that would be easy to walk around and offer up plenty of cute shops and old streets to amble around.

Did you know that Hotel du Vin is dog-friendly? All 17 of their hotels are welcoming of canine companions, you just need to let them know when you book. This meant that they could prepare our room for all 3 of us; Otis had his own bed, blanket and bowl waiting for him when we got into our beautiful room. Better yet, there was no additional cost for having him with us.

Hotel du Vin, Harrogate

We’d booked a superior double, their third tier of five different types of bedrooms. It was lovely- big room, huge comfortable bed, windows onto the front gardens and at the end of a corridor so it was quiet. The hotel is actually a series of eight Georgian houses joined together, which means lots of long hallways and character.

Our very comfortable bed (aka Otis’ launchpad)

And an amazing bathroom; check out this tub:

I miss this tub.

There were a few eateries I was particularly keen to check out, specifically Filmore & Union and Baltzersen’s. Having followed them both on social media for a little while, I already knew they were dog-friendly.

Once we’d had a bit of time getting settled in the hotel, we popped the dog’s lead back on him and headed out for some dinner, via a short walk through the town centre.

Filmore & Union first opened in York in 2012 and, since then, have expanded gently across Yorkshire to 8 branches, all of which are dog-friendly! Their schtick, in their own words, is that they are passionate about creating wholesome and vibrant dishes using seasonal, locally sourced and nutrient dense foods that delight the taste buds just as much as they make you feel good. What’s not to like about that?! But they aren’t 100% clean cut: we had booze on our visit, in the shape of some refreshing Bellinis.

As well as cocktails, we had a shared starter of bread with hummus, feta, tomatoes, oils, balsamic:

Our Filmore bread board.

Then it was onto mains- a very generous steak with sweet potatoes for me, and a chicken tagine with wild rice for Sam, my other half. Both were delicious:

My huge portion of steak with sweet potato and kale.
Sam’s tagine with wild rice.

We were too full for pudding, so had a pleasant walk back to the hotel for a good (-ish) night’s sleep. The bed itself was great for sleeping and the room was perfectly dark… unfortunately, Otis was so excited at being away that he seemed to think jumping on and off the bed, repeatedly, would be a wise use of some of the overnight hours. By about 3am, we were questioning why we ever thought bringing him would be a nice idea.

Breakfast at the hotel the following morning was lovely; the hotel staff set us up at a table in the bar (no dogs in the restaurant) and we were able to help ourselves to the continental buffet and order some cooked breakfast items. Otis was very grateful for the sneaky scrap of bacon I saved for him, too.

After breakfast and getting ready, we checked out. We popped our bag in the boot of the car and headed off for some more mooching round town. We took in Betty’s (well, Sam went in the shop bit while I waited outside with the hound); the Spirit of Harrogate shop- home of Slingsby gin; various charity shops; United Colors of Benetton – we were surprised to come across this blast from the past, but I bought a great necklace; an independent wine merchant’s and a few other places.

Before we knew it, it was the afternoon and we were ready for a spot of lunch before heading back down to Sheffield. We’d agreed before our trip that Baltzersen’s would be a must-visit. We had actually planned on stopping in at Baltzersen’s last summer on our drive back from Scotland, but we couldn’t make the timings work- so we were especially excited to fit it in at last!

Baltzersen’s in Harrogate

We had already done a tactical visit to the Scandinavian-inspired cafΓ© earlier on in the day, as part of our shopping/mooch, as we knew if we waited til whenever we were ready for lunch, they might be sold out of cinnamon buns; we called in and got a couple to takeaway:

A Baltzersens cinnamon bun.

When we returned for lunch, they were much-depleted, so I’m glad we’d got ours early. We managed to make it all the way back to Sheffield with them and enjoyed them for brunch the following morning.

Our lunch at Baltzersen’s was fantastic. We decided to go halves on two different open hot sandwiches, both of which were excellent:

Roasted pork belly with stuffing, caramelised red onion, kale and horseradish mayo
Meatballs with fried onion, melted cheese and lingonberry jam

Everything on the menu sounded so delicious, it was hard to choose; we’ll definitely be returning to Baltzersen’s to try more! After enjoying a good drink from the water bowl that was brought over for him, Otis promptly fell asleep at our feet and let us eat in peace:

I could probably fill a gallery with photos of Otis asleep on pub and cafΓ© floors

We shared a slice of carrot cake afterwards, which was also very good:

Mmmm, cake

We would have loved to stay longer in Harrogate, but we had a lot on, so after a quick rummage through some more of the town’s very charming shops, it was hometime. An easy 1 hour and 20 minutes later and we were back in S8, content and well-fed, if not quite as well-rested as we’d hoped (thanks Otis).

We’re looking forward to returning to Harrogate! Let me know if you have any recommendations for Harrogate or other parts of North Yorkshire, as we’d like to explore some more.

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