North East & Yorkshire Premier Hospitality

Royal York Hotel

Royal York Hotel
Written by Roma Publications

Magnificent makeover for iconic hotel

Royal York Hotel

The magnificent and iconic Victorian Grade II-listed Royal York Hotel in York has undergone a multi-million pound renovation to restore its original splendour, as well as adding a new destination restaurant and bar.

The hotel nestles beneath York’s ancient walls and stands proudly in beautifully kept gardens, boasting spectacular views of the historic city and York Minster.

The overall architects on the project were 3D Reid, whilst the lead interior designers (covering all public spaces and bedrooms) were Goddard Littlefair. Michaelis Boyd designed the new restaurant and bar and contractors on the project were Zenith Contractors.

The Grade II-listed, four-AA-star, 158-bedroom hotel, which dates back to 1878, was recently acquired by Starwood Capital, whose investments include the refurbishment of all of the hotel’s bedrooms and suites, the hotel lobby and the creation of a garden room looking out to York Minster.
The hotel’s owners also developed an exciting vision to rewind many of the later interventions and restore its status as a grand hotel, revealing the original spaces and architecture.

Royal York Hotel

The new Chapter House bar and Refectory Kitchen & Terrace concepts have been developed by London restaurateur Des McDonald. The Refectory Kitchen & Terrace serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.

The new Chapter House bar and snug serves a Yorkshire-inspired menu, including black pudding sausage roll with HP Sauce, Fountains Gold toastie with Branston, and Bridlington scampi with tartare sauce.

Jo Littlefair, Director and Co-founder of Goddard Littlefair said: “We were asked to reinstate the hotel’s essential character and pay respect to its original architecture and era, whilst at the same time creating a sense of comfort, restfulness and elegance that would help position the hotel as a great destination to spend time in, as well as being a highly practical place to stay for visitors to the city, given its location alongside York railway station.
“Our overall approach was to design a modern and softer interpretation of a country house, creating a light-filled and welcoming space with over-scaled furniture, such as large wing chairs, and interesting and unique art and antiques. These give the interiors a sense of heritage and character, whilst traditional, high-quality materials such as linen, leather, wool and velvet express both comfort and authenticity.
“Of course, working with a Victorian-era property, we faced all the challenges one would expect from a period building and, following a space-planning exercise looking at logistics, guest navigation and flow, the project began with a number of structural changes, including the creation of a double-height opening into the Garden Lounge and the relocation of the reception, with a new emphasis on a primary entrance to the hotel from the garden side.
“The main challenge, however, was the effective sequencing of works whilst the hotel stayed open throughout. This is a hugely popular hotel and it simply wasn’t possible for it to close down for an extended period.”

Work started on site at the beginning 2015, with the bedrooms in the garden wing being renovated. The remaining main house rooms were renovated in stages throughout last year, and the public areas were refurbished in the last quarter of 2015.

“The Garden Lounge is a particular highlight of the final design and is a beautiful space, complete with Chesterfield sofas and wing chairs, making it the perfect place to relax and enjoy afternoon tea – and more”, Jo Littlefair commented, adding:
“A sense of place is incorporated throughout, including artworks that we sourced, referencing York Races and images from historic society gatherings in York, particularly involving the Duke and Duchess of York. We also integrated architectural drawings of Castle Howard and other local stately homes, as well as antique maps.
“The whole scheme features a series of antique objects, hand-picked by us from antique markets around the country, including old trunks for example and beautiful stone dogs. The furniture throughout is also bespoke. This ensures a unique environment and is part of the
Goddard Littlefair design approach, looking to create as many bespoke items for our projects as possible, so that they are always designed with the exact location, function and end-user in mind and also embody a certain exclusivity.

Jo Littlefair concluded: “This project has been a great experience for us. It has been incredibly rewarding and we feel privileged to have been involved. We love restoration projects and challenges – particularly, as here, when we can address the whole space, be creative and breathe new life into a property.”

Royal York Hotel


Armatile specialises in the design and manufacture of truly innovative tile and marble carpets, rugs and mosaic surfaces for interior, hospitality and retail design spaces.

Established in 1975, Armatile has grown into a principal importer and distributor of tiles, and is renowned as the leading manufacturer of tailored surface solutions. During the transformation of The Royal York Hotel, Armatile worked with the client to source the right products and manufacture decorative tiles including a geometric design which they pre-assembled onto mesh panels for ease of fitting on site.

Martin Mallon from Armatile said:
“Being involved with prestigious projects like The Royal York Hotel provides great opportunities for our team to display its expertise in interpreting design needs and translating a client’s vision into reality.”
Martin added:
“Armatile is a company with real family values, a strong heritage, and which has a passion to consistently push the boundaries to create interesting surfaces. We take pride in throwing ourselves at the projects others shy away from and creating tailor-made surface design solutions that work for our customers.”

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Roma Publications

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