By Katie Wilson
You know somewhere is exclusive when it doesn’t have a sign. The owners tell us they are still debating whether to get one. We hope they don’t, as The Vices York is really quite special.
In fact, we’d rather like to keep it to ourselves, but it would be unfair not to let others experience this unique offering, which is unlike any hotel we’ve ever visited in the UK.
With only three suites, the setting is intimate and gives the feeling you are stepping into someone’s immaculately decorated home. You are really, as the Italian owners Daniel Curro and Moreno Carbone live in the house next door and much of their private art collection adorns the walls of this private house hotel.
Housed in a former Victorian police station, many of the original features remain. The charging room is now a grand entrance, while the cells have been converted into a kitchen where chef Luke Sanderson prepares the tasting menu for their fine dining restaurant Allium, which is also open to the public.
Here’s what happened when The Boutique Handbook checked in for the night.
The Vices York is around a 10-minute walk from York city centre, along the canal. You’ll find it on Alma Terrace.
As there is no sign, look out for the imposing red brick building to find the entrance. Insider tip: It’s opposite the Hallo Mallow cafe.
If you’re travelling by car and are a hotel guest you can pre-book a parking space. By train you can get from King’s Cross to York in under two hours. It’s even quicker if you’re coming from Manchester, Sheffield or Leeds. The hotel is then a short walk or taxi ride from the station.
Owner Daniel (possibly the most stylish man we’ve ever met) was there to greet us at the door. This personal level of service was extended to us throughout our stay.
There is no formal reception area, as it is supposed to feel like home for guests. Instead there is a chic seating area with a stylish chandelier light above and impressive artwork on the walls.
We were welcomed to sit down as Daniel checked us in through an iPad and served us homemade mini ice cream cones as an arrival treat. Our keys – complete with champagne bottle opener attached – were then handed over as we were escorted to our room.
STYLE AND INTERIORS
The Vices York is an interior designer’s dream. It’s clear no expense has been spared, as much of the decor has been imported from Italy and designed by leading experts like Antonio Lupi (bathrooms) and Listone Giordano (flooring).
Each detail has been painstakingly thought about, from the unusual light fittings to the unique artwork and risqué features in the bedrooms.
Examples include a suggestive chain light in the First Suite, which we were assured is purely decorative. Bondage-style paintings hang on the walls, although it is obvious they are meant to create intrigue and are some of the most tasteful we have seen.
And don’t get us started on the Japanese-inspired toilet in the restaurant. Flushing it was a delight and we’re not ashamed to admit we took a video of it in action.
There are three suites at The Vices York and each has its own unique character. Such thought has gone into the whole experience that each room has its own specially curated playlist which you can set to play in different areas of the suite. There are also smart automation controls for mood lighting and a fresh fruit platter awaits guests on arrival.
The First suite has a futuristic theme. The super king-size bed is suspended on glass legs and there is even a glass wardrobe. The open plan space leads through to a huge bathroom – all the bathrooms are bigger than the bedrooms here – which has double crystal sinks and a freestanding crystal bath tub. Not to mention the super-size jet shower.
We stayed in The Second, a more feminine suite with hues of pink, teal and gold which you get to through a restored church door. There are double dressing tables in the bathroom, a walk in wardrobe area and huge mirror for getting ready. Two velvet armchairs and table perfect for an aperitif before dinner are near the window, next to the super king-size bed. While the bathroom is bigger than most London flats. Soak in the double circular bath or lose yourself in the steaming Aquaelite shower.
The Third suite is definitely the sexiest and can be reached through a private entrance from the downstairs lounge. It comes with a four poster bed hand crafted from pure brass, living room with leather chaise longue, and the afore mentioned chain light above the staircase. There is no bath in this room, but the shower is extra-large.
FOOD AND DRINK
The downstairs of the hotel is made up of a Lounge, Cocktail Bar and fine dining restaurant, Allium, headed up by chef Luke Sanderson.
There are only 14 covers and guests can sit in the main restaurant or the Wine Library, where we dined. This houses over 160 Italian wines alone – more than anywhere in the north of the UK – and has a wine list curated by owner and sommelier Daniel.
Allium refers to a type of flower known as ‘ornamental onions’. They come in many colours but are commonly purple. It was a nice nod that these flowers adorned the tables in the restaurant.
The name is also reflected in Allium’s signature dish, Burnt Onion. It may not sound immediately appetising, but wait until you taste it.
The £80pp six-course tasting menu changes regularly. We liked you could choose to open a wax-sealed envelope before you eat to know what’s on it, or keep it as a surprise like we did.
Other delights when we visited included Smoked Eel, Beef and a wine-infused palate cleanser called Lost In Grapes. A particular treat was the homemade chocolates served at the end, known as the Sweet Epilogue.
For those that don’t eat meat, a plant-based menu is served for one week every two months. Check the website to see when the next one is happening.
In addition to expert wine pairing with the meal (an additional £80pp), private wine tastings led by Daniel can be booked for up to eight people in the Wine Library. Non-guests can also book a table at the Cocktail Lounge, where the drinks come with a Milanese twist. Try their Negroni Sbagliato as a night cap or aperitif.
A complimentary continental breakfast is also included for guests staying over. This morning feast for the eyes included delicious bacon and maple pastries, fruit and yoghurt and bread and jams.
Guests and locals are invited to drop in to buy an expertly curated bottle from the Wine Library. Prices start from a reasonable £21.
The Vices York also describes itself as a ‘poly-friendly hotel’. The website says guests can make a note when booking or email their enquiries.
We’ve stayed in a lot of hotels, but The Vices York is in a league of its own. Not only is it unique to the north, in our opinion it’s unique to the UK. Stepping through its doors is like immersing yourself in another world we didn’t want to leave. And we hear plans are already afoot to open a second hotel in Puglia, Italy…
Prices start from £400 a night
*Note the hotel, bar and restaurant is only open from Wednesday to Saturday
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