The Bar Convent – York, North Yorkshire
Hotel locations are wonderfully varied – from stately homes and prisons to windmills and castles – and in York there’s one in England’s oldest surviving convent. Dating from 1686, it’s still home to the apostolic members of the Congregation of Jesus, an Ignatian order founded in 1609 by an extraordinary woman called Mary Ward, at the height of Catholic suppression post-gunpowder plot. Grade I-listed, it’s a tranquil and affordable place to stay, recognised by Visit Britain, which gave it a three-star silver rating and coveted Breakfast Award. You can even sleep in one of two attractive rooms designed by Olga Polizzi, a supporter of the sisters and their work. Recent refurbishment has ensured simple but spotless and well-equipped bedrooms. There’s also a café (open until three and to the public) in the Victorian atrium for breakfasts, sandwiches and pastries. Plus, wander around the gloriously peaceful garden, the baroque chapel and the superb exhibition on the convent’s founder and history. It’s all rather joyful and uplifting, and the perfect spot from which to discover the secret alleyways of this historic walled city.
Doubles from £100
+44 (0)1904 643238; bar-convent.org.uk
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