All you need to know about York in the palm of your hand

Our computer hub is already proving popular with guests wanting to find out more about what they can do whilst visiting York, and although our website does highlight what we feel you can’t miss out on we also want to give you something tangible to use on your visit to York; something to keep for future use, or to pass on to a friend. So, we are proud to announce the development The Fort’s ultimate guide of things to see and do.

Known technically as a ‘z-card’ our complimentary guide, that will be provided upon check-in, will allow you the chance to find your feet thanks to the map it will feature, and also give an insight into all York has to offer; from bars to restaurants, shops to tourist attractions, we plan to condense it all into a wallet-friendly guide.

As we championed fresh talent through the design of our rooms our design of the guide is no different, and we look forward to working with a talented young designer brimming with creative ideas.

Each of the specific locations will have been handpicked by our team to ensure that you receive an unbiased guide to the places we know will provide you with the ultimate York experience on a budget.

As a work in progress we expect the guides to be ready for print sometime in November, although we’ll be featuring the design process via our numerous online sites.

We hope that by offering guests a guide to York, we should help alleviate the problems that can arise though not knowing what to do or where to go, and we appreciate that time is precious.

Until we have the guides ready for distribution upon your arrival, please visit our website for up-to-date information on what to do in York. Not forgetting that all guests are entitled to 20% off food and drink at Kennedy’s Bar and Restaurant next door to The Fort.


Going Solo?

As we review the visitors to The Fort, we can’t help notice the number of solo travellers. Being a hostel it is to be expected that we will attract guests either travelling alone, or needing accommodation for business purposes.

We’d like to highlight the things that previous guests have stated to ensure you have a full and enjoyable experience whilst staying with. Jennifer Ryder who stayed with us in August all the way from Australia, said:

This place was lovely, really like a hotel more than anything. There aren’t any laundry facilities but the staff were more than accommodating with helping us out. You also get a discount on meals at the restaurant next door and it is close enough to absolutely everything you need. Awesome rooms and super comfy beds.

Ricardo Messano from Uruguay was thrilled with his experience earlier in the year, and a UK guest who stayed with us in July echoed this:

An amazing, well positioned hostel and fantastic as a base for sight-seeing/shopping/business trips! The lounge area is also great as it means that if funds are tight, you can easily just rustle up a ready meal or just chill out to avoid the weather! I will definitely be back later this year!

The communal area now has the added benefit of a computer hub with complimentary Wi-Fi, so you are also able to access the Internet and update your friends on your activity.

We endeavor to post the latest news and useful links on our Twitter page and also use our Facebook page to highlight the latest updates.

The Fort readies itself for the festivals

The past year has flown by, and we are only weeks away from one of our favourite of all York’s festivals: Illuminating York.

If you are unfamiliar with this particular festival of lights, then let us enlighten you on just why we love it. To begin with it is spread across the city, incorporating many of York’s finest buildings. Now in its seventh year the festival responsible for illuminating our historic treasures is set to continue its mission to enable both residents and visitors alike to look at York in a different light  – quite literally.

Using multi-coloured lights to add a contemporary twist to the illumination of buildings such as Clifford’s Tower and York Minster, we eagerly await the ingenious methods used to provide entertainment simply using different lighting techniques. Last year we were enthralled by the work of two French artists whose work was highlighted through light in real time.

The Fort was chosen as the accommodation provider for a number of the talented artists involved in last year’s festival, and we are proud to say that it has once again been chosen as a base for those who will be working their magic across the city.

If you’d like to see York in all its illuminated glory, then please feel free to head over to the city from 26-29 October. If you’re looking for accommodation at The Fort then we suggest you book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

We will be featuring our own images of the festival on Facebook along with a blog entry, so if you don’t get the chance to head over and see it you can check in with us online to see what you missed.

With the Ghost Festival (22-31 October), York Early Music Christmas Festival (30 November – 10 December), not forgetting the Festival of Angels (10-11 December), there is plenty to see and do in York over the coming months.

For further info on the Illuminating York Festival, please head over to their official website.

New delivery at The Fort

We recently decided to invest in a computer for use in The Fort’s communal area the other week, and we are thrilled to announce that it has been delivered and is being prepared for installation.

As we are so keen on shouting about The Fort online we felt it only right that you should be able to have a free access point to the internet at The Fort. Although we offer complimentary WiFi, you may not have a laptop or smartphone with you so we hope our new edition will provide you with the opportunity to access our website, designed by the very talented team at York’s digital design agency Nugenko. From the website you can find out what’s happening in York along with access to our various social media sites (including this blog!).

As soon as the computer is linked up we’ll send a tweet and put a picture on here and Facebook.

Just to note that our beautifully designed lift is currently undergoing some TLC, so if you are heading over to stay with us in the next few weeks you’ll have to bare with us. As soon as it is brought back to life we’ll let you know. (You can read the interview with Simon Gornall on how he came up with his concept for the lift’s interior by clicking here.)

The Fort wows reviewers from across the UK

The Fort was featured in a review by Yorkshire Living Magazine earlier in the year, although with the growing importance of reviews offering an impartial insight into accommodation rapidly gaining momentum, we felt it time to invite various travel journalists to stay the night and give you their view of The Fort.

Of course the media exposure is good for us, and also helps us to make any improvements that are raised (as we do with any concerns that you highlight).

Earlier in the month we were thrilled to receive a visit from Urban Coco, an online fashion and lifestyle magazine, who are using their stay as a feature piece on their new website. You may have seen the review already, thanks to the link placed on our Facebook page, but if not you can check it out here

September will see the arrival of three more magazines: Lush Magazine, focusing on fashion and lifestyle; Shoestring magazine, an online magazine written for those travelling on a budget; and finally Gr8 Life, a lifestyle magazine distributed across the south of the UK.

We also have to mention that we recently received a visit from a BBC journalist who loved The Fort and was keen to feature it in Olive Magazine. This will be out later in the year, although from his comments on his visit we can expect a glowing review!

If you received an online newsletter from Kennedy’s Bar and Restaurant this month, you will no doubt have seen The Fort mentioned, along with the fact that they had a makeover in their downstairs area. We just love the new wallpaper, and have included a few pictures here on our blog.

As ever, we fully encourage you to leave any comments and suggestions via our numerous social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Hostelworld, and right here on our blog.

The Fort extends to offer an even more luxurious experience

If you have checked out our blog before you will no doubt be aware that we listen to what our guests tell us and ultimately act on any improvements suggested; our latest development fills us with excitement, as we feel it will provide you with the ultimate hostel experience – the superior dorm room.

Ever since The Fort opened its doors last July, it has been obvious that the most popular room has, and still is, the log cabin dorm room. Now, this might seem pretty obvious, seen as we are a hostel, but we also offer some rather fabulous double rooms.  As a result of this we decided to provide another dorm room.

The latest addition to The Fort provides you with not only a luxurious finish, but your own private kitchen, bathroom and lounge. With three bunk beds, this room would be ideal for a group booking; kicking off your shoes after a day of sight seeing, you could unpack and then all chill out on the sofas with a snack prepared in the kitchen, before heading out for a night of fun in the city.

Alternatively the room provides a great base for those that aren’t travelling in a large group, enabling you to mingle in the social space, complete with complimentary Wi-Fi.

With prices from £29pppn then why not book into the dorm that offers you the ultimate boutique experience, or why not surprise your friends and book the entire dorm to for a trip to remember!

We would encourage group bookings to plan in advance, as the superior dorm is proving to be incredibly popular, so as we say here at The Fort – you try getting in!

Legally Blonde offer at Kennedy’s Bar and Restaurant

We thought we would mention that the aftershow party of the Olivier Awarding-winning musical was held at Kennedy’s Bar and Restaurant – next door to The Fort. As the hit West End musical is currently showing at York’s Grand Opera House, the top eatery is offering an exclusive deal for anyone heading over to watch the all hit show.

With the chance to enjoy a meal for two (to the value of £10.95 each) accompanied by a bottle of house wine for only £26.95, simply show your theatre ticket, and the lovely staff at Kennedy’s will ensure that you receive the discount.

If you’re not heading to see the musical (at York’s Grand Opera House 9-20 August), or don’t fancy a meal prior to the show, then why not take advantage of their Legally Blonde inspired cocktail. Made to the recipe of the world famous cosmopolitan, it has a twist that honours the rather eccentric main character in the touring production.

We highlighted the show on our ‘Things to do in York’ section of The Fort’s website – if you are staying at The Fort and plan to see the production then feel free to leave us a message with what you thought!

One year on…

As we begin to prepare for The Fort’s first birthday, we look ahead with a great sense of achievement after our fantastic first year of business.

If you follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter, you will have no doubt noticed that we have been featured in some incredible articles; highlighting just how quirky our accommodation is, and ultimately the continued rise in popularity of boutique hostels.

As we endeavor to continue bringing you our latest news, we will be entertaining reviewers from various publication over the next month to ensure that you receive an unbiased opinion regarding our ‘little gem’.

We will be posting the links to the various articles via our own social media accounts, but look out for Urban Coco, Shoestring Magazine, Gr8 Life Magazine, and also Plush Magazine.

A few weeks ago we received a fantastic surprise as a television personality stayed in our ‘ocean room’ as part of her tour of the best the UK has to offer. You may not have heard of Astrid Sudarwanto, but apparently in her native country of Indonesia she is quite the star! Her photographer has promised us images of their time in York, so we will get them up on here as soon as we receive them.

On a side note, we received a comment on the blog from a reader that was keen to tell us about something we could alter (travel info) so we looked into it, and discovered that you can indeed take a more direct route from York to Manchester airport than we had mentioned. If you have any suggestions or things you’d like to see, then please feel free to leave us a comment.

Please don’t forget to check out our ‘Things to do in York‘, if you are heading on over to York soon, and please feel free to leave your own suggestions.

Viva Espana!

Our business development manager – Andrew Elcock – recently took a tour of Spain; staying in boutique hostels as he made his way from Valencia to Madrid, and finally on to Barcelona. He has come back full of ideas and some rather fabulous images. You may have seen them highlighted on our Facebook page, but Andrew had a few words and links that he wanted to highlight in regards to our continental counterparts.

First on the stop was a 3 night stay in Valencia’s Rooms Deluxe; advertising itself as the evolution of the traditional hostel, it affords rooms that are individually designed by local artists, including a science room, a legendary room, and an enchanted forest. On a larger scale to The Fort (with 28 rooms in total) it boasts all the facilities that we look to embrace as we enter our second stage of development. Although it advertised the attractions that were within a short distance, it failed to mention that we were a taxi ride away from the city centre!

Following on from Rooms Deluxe in Valencia, it was time to take advantage of Spain’s brilliant high-speed train network, the AVE, which recently connected Valencia to Madrid in 2010. We departed Valencia and headed towards Madrid, and aboard the AVE it we were given the chance to check out some spectacular scenery travelling at speeds over 200 miles per hour.

Thanks to the AVE, the journey from Madrid to Barcelona was only two hours and thirty minutes. This meant that we were able to get more done in the day than we would have prior to the rail link opening. As Barcelona is a one of Europe’s most vibrant cosmopolitan cities we had a number of options to get our fix of the boutique experience, eventually opting for the Paraiso Hostel; with a sun terrace and individual rooms, it was great for location to the city and the numerous services it afforded. Although not as edgy as Rooms Deluxe in Valencia, it provided us with a clean and friendly central location to drop our bags and venture off to explore the city.

As we arrived at Paraiso Hostel we were offered sangria on their roof terrace, and as I chatted to more of the hostel workers I realised just how important the social space was in ensuring that visitors enjoyed their stay. Admittedly at The Fort we don’t have the luxury of a roof terrace (Kennedy’s bar does next door) but the emphasis needs to be on social space; stage two of The Fort looks to increase the size of the communal area, along with offering a laundry room, a fully fitted kitchen, and plenty more quirky rooms. Check out our piece in the press recently regarding our first year and plans for the future!

You can find more of Andrew’s images on our Facebook page.

Reviewing your reviews

We mentioned last week that we would address the concerns raised in any of our reviews left on our booking providers website, Hostelworld.

We have done this in the past and it has proven to be a popular way of engaging with our visitors, and also ensuring that we continue to provide a unique experience.

With an 89% rating on Hostelworld, we are currently the highest rated hostel in the city of York, but that doesn’t mean that all those that stay leave without a suggestion to push our percentile even higher.

Firstly we’d like to thanks to the reviewer from the US, who stayed with us in May, who commented on our amenities, and happened to state that she wasn’t keen on the seating in the communal area. Well, this has been duly noted, and we are looking into providing bespoke furniture for the area, to maximise the space available. As for the amenities, we’d like to say that if you ask any member of staff all the essentials will be provided; including iron, hairdryer etc.

A female traveller left a review from the UK in April, and she mentioned that the bathrooms in the private rooms have a curtain, rather than a door. We can announce that this issue is being dealt with and we will update with photos as soon as possible.

We also accommodate those on business, and one Italian reviewer who joined us whilst on a work trip happened to mention the issue of lockers in the dorm room. We are currently sourcing some quirky secure storage, and we’ll have pictures as soon as we receive them.

We also have to thank all the lovely reviews left by other guests, including Ricardo Messano from Uruguay, who said that The Fort was everything he wanted to be, and that if he comes to our lovely city again, that he will be sure to book into The Fort – Thanks Ricardo!

To all those who have stayed with us over the last year, many thanks for your reviews and we look forward to seeing lots of you again. If you check out our latest coverage in the York Press, you can see that The Fort is only in its first phase of development, and that as we prepare for stage two you all have plenty to look forward to!

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