Tag Archives: Boutique Hostels

Yorkshire Real Ale at Kennedy’s Bar and Restaurant

We are always keen to champion Kennedy’s Bar and Restaurant, located next door to The Fort, as it offers amazing food and a great selection of drinks. In fact they have just teamed up with The Great Yorkshire Brewery and are proud suppliers of Yorkshire Lager.

After many years of experimenting, with help from around the globe, The Great Yorkshire Brewery produces the UK’s first Yorkshire lager: made from Yorkshire water, British barley, malt, yeast and whole hops.

As a guest at The Fort we’d like to remind you that you receive a complimentary 20% discount of all food at Kennedy’s Bar and Restaurant, so why not head over when you’ve unpacked and try not only their locally sourced food but now locally sourced lager.

If you fancy heading over to The Great Yorkshire Brewery’s website you will see that they have kindly provided a link to not only Kennedy’s, but also us here at The Fort. Thanks guys!


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.

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.

Keep on moving

It was recently highlighted in the Yorkshire Post (Yorkshire’s premier newspaper) that due to the proposed rail improvements across the UK, train times would be slashed.

Now particular emphasis was placed on Yorkshire (as you can imagine) with the article stating that track improvements and five more trains daily to London’s Kings Cross, the time to York from London would be cut to just over two hours.

Now we appreciate that if you are planning a jaunt through the UK, be you an international traveller or fellow Brit, getting to your destination is not always the most enjoyable experience – especially if you face delays. But with these improvements meaning that you can travel up to York, and onwards to the North of England and then on to bonnie Scotland, we couldn’t be happier that you will enjoy a more relaxing ride.

OK, we realise that these improvements may take a while to implement, but it is a start. It is also a fantastic reason to experience the city of York on you trip across the UK.

Don’t forget that if you are planning to travel to York, you can arrive here by plane, train and/or automobile (sorry, had to get that in). Trains run daily from the London, and coaches are just as frequent – the National Express service providing really pleasant ride, despite the extended journey time.

To arrive at York by plane you would need to fly to Leeds Bradford Airport, then hop on a train from Leeds to York (taking about 40 mins). Alternatively, if you flew in to Manchester then you would simply board a train at the airport and be whisked directly to York in around 1hour 45mins (with TransPennine Express).

So, with the train times set to improve and an infrastructure that already offers you a swift ride to the Medieval heart of the UK, why not make it a key destination on your journey?

Reaching a milestone in record time

We are getting pretty excited here at The Fort, as we are about to welcome our one thousandth (yes, 1000th!) guest via our lovely booking provider, Hostelworld.

Although we knew that boutique hostels were the way forward, affording you luxury on a budget, we didn’t expect to surpass our projection for the first year so soon.

From Australia to Argentina, China to Canada, we have welcomed guests from across the globe, leading to an average rating of 89%, and also ‘Top Rated’ hostel in York, by HostelWorld.

If you scan through the blog, you can track our journey from conception to completion, followed our trials and tribulations during our first year.

None of what we have achieved would have been possible if it weren’t for a concerted effort by the owner, Karen Waugh, and not forgetting the designers who brought inspiration through interior design to The Fort’s various rooms.

We have been featured in numerous press articles: from the Independent to York’s local paper, online magazines to iPhone apps, we are proclaimed as one of the best boutique hostels in the UK – and we agree!

Of course, as we live in an age where the Internet plays a vital role in communication, and our presence on Facebook, Twitter and here on WordPress, have not gone unnoticed by the guests that have frequented The Fort. With a plethora of information, we have kept all of you up-to-date with all the latest news, reviews and quirky stories that have caught our attention.

So, if you have previously stayed at The Fort, thank you, and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

Things to do and ways to do it

We have been receiving some glowing reviews here at The Fort, and are thrilled that so many people are feeling what we have worked so hard to create.

The reviews and comments left on Hostelworld have enabled us to see that we needed to highlight more of the ‘fun’ at The Fort. Therefore we have adapted our website’s ‘Things to do in York’ page to provide more detailed information to the essential sites in York (with links), up-to-date information about the current month’s festivities and finally a space for you to leave a comment or suggestion about what you liked and would recommend another hostel user to try out.

If you check out the new and improved ‘Things to do in York’ page you will see that during the month of January, all guests at The Fort could benefit from a 50% discount from food at Kennedy’s. This was a January offer, but as a guest at The Fort you will always receive a warm welcome from Kennedy’s and a minimum of 20% off your food.

Kennedy's - with a touch of snow!

Situated next door, Kennedy’s is one of York’s top destinations for both shoppers seeking a bite to eat or those looking for a night out. If you have paid a visit to Kennedy’s in the past and imparted them with your email address then you could soon be set to receive their e-newsletter that is being devised (including a section on The Fort).

Towards the end of last year Yorkshire Living Magazine sent out one of its top journalists to review The Fort and we have been told that it will be appearing in March’s edition of the magazine – a link will be provided to their website as soon as we receive word that it is up online and in print!

The Fort…online!

We have mentioned in a number of blog posts and tweets recently that The Fort’s website was under development, well we are now pleased to report that it is live! The creative team at Nugenko have done an amazing job to showcase the rooms on a fully interactive site that not only provides information on the city of York, but also links to all our social media sites that we have worked so hard on over the last eight months.

We also have a few recent images of The Fort’s kitchen area that display the new microwave and fridge that have been provided as a result of the comments that we read and reviewed on Hostelword. As we take what we read to heart, we aim to ensure that all our guests enjoy their stay and so any improvements we can make we will do so (we would love to provide more equipment, but due to regulations, we are limited!).

A recent guest, Erin Hiashi, allowed us to interview her about her stay at the hostel as she scoured the city looking for accommodation in preparation for enrolment at York University. From Toronto in Canada, the marine biology student is staying in the dorm room; here is what she had to say:

So, Erin, why did you choose to come and stay at The Fort?

I needed somewhere that provided me with good access to the university and that was affordable. The Fort is perfect being situated where it is, and the dorm room is certainly affordable.

What were your first impressions when you arrived?

It’s obviously new, that’s for sure! I love the decor and it’s really clean.

Do you usually Stay in hostels?

Yes, I try to. I think that I will continue to.   

Had you seen any information about The Fort before you came to stay?

I booked it through Hostelworld so I got the opportunity to read up about it online before I booked. I read the reviews which were all really positive so I was confident I’d enjoy my stay.

Have you had a chance to explore York?

I think I would have more to say if I were a tourist, but from what I have seen the town is absolutlely beautiful. I’m glad I moved here – I just need to find somewhere to live before I start university!

So, a big thanks to Erin, who allowed us to disturb her from her studies (and take a picture!). if you fancy checking out our new website, please click The Fort logo below.

Getting to know you…

As we have mentioned on previous posts, here at The Fort we are all about listening to feedback and doing what we can to make sure that we improve upon any areas that have been highlighted as a weakness.

As our website is currently in the hands of the very capable creative guys over at the design agency Nugenko, all bookings are being taken through Hostelworld. As an online site, it offers the opportunity for guests to leave comments, allowing us to use them as part an ongoing evaluative process.

We would therefore like to annouce the improvments The Fort is undergoing and also the added benefits that you might not be aware of. If you feel that you have a comment or suggestion please feel free to leave one below.

Firstly we’d like to thank Caitlyn Fisher from Australia, who was one guest that mentioned the reading lights in the dorm room. We would like to inform you all that in the dorm room not all the beds had reading lights, but as this was highlighted as an issue of concern an order is being placed with an independent store in York to pick up some snazzy lights to allow every guest the opportunity benefit from individual lighting.

Rachel Robertson from New Zealand commented on the noise from the people socialising on the terrace below the main dorm room on a Saturday night. As Kennedy’s is a busy bar in the heart of the city (a venue that we would recommend all he Fort guests check out, taking advantage of their 20% discount on food and drink) we can’t promise that the noise won’t permeate into the room. If you are a light sleeper and feel that this may be a problem for you, then please feel free to take advantage of earplugs that we provide – not that the noise is ever that bad, but we want to make sure everyone has a good nights sleep.

The rooms will also be benefiting from added storage in the future, as we are looking into ways to offer guests more opportunities to store there luggage – not to mention gifts and goodies!

We would also like to let you know that this is merely phase one of a larger project; our communual area may be snug, but we are installing a fridge and microwave, thanks to feedback.    

We would like to thank all those for the countless positive comments, which included one from Anna Wondracz from Australia, who commented on just how unique The Fort is, and how helpful and friendly our staff are. 

Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook; whether it is questions regarding parking or just to let us know you had a great time, we want to hear from you. Follow the facebook logo and join us!


Posh coffee!

Firstly we have to say a massive thank you to everyone who has paid us a visit at The Fort in its first month.  We have welcomed visitors from across the globe and made quite a few new friends, with some deciding to leave us a lovely review on hostelworld.com – we currently stand at a 90% average (currently the top rated hostel in York!).

We have had one or two suggestions that have left us a little stumped, one that the coffee is too posh?! Here at The Fort we decided against traditional instant, and opted for ground coffee that requires the use of a perculator. So, what is your preference? The snazzy smelly stuff, or freeze dried?  Let us know!

We would also like to let all our prospective guests know that located in close proximity to The Fort is Kennedy’s bar/restaurant. As one of the most exciting venues in York, both in the day and night, we are working in close partnership with the hotspot to provide entertainment and food to our guests. So, if you have kicked off your shoes after a day of sightseeing and are wondering what to do, then head over to Kennedy’s and the staff will be more than happy to make you feel welcome (they are already planning a halloween party to remember – so we’ll keep you posted about that). 

The entire room was recently booked out  for review night that will be included in a monthly magazine in the next few months, so if you are still undesided about The Fort, we’ll be placing the link to that on here as soon as it is available.

We have also been featured in the rather lovely magazine On:Yorkshire this month, a link has been placed on our Facebook page, so why not check it out?

The website for The Fort is in the hands of the design agency Nugenko and will be completed soon, so we have to thank the guys for their hard work and also Sean Elliott at Exposure Property Marketing for the imagery.

If you’d like more updates about what is happening at The Fort, then feel free to follow us on Twitter or Facebook by clicking the Fort logo and heading over to our holding page where you can access either site (or both!).

The nifty lift

As The Fort is a place that is keen to offer its visitors an experience to remember, it was felt that all areas of the project had showcase creative talent – even the lift.

So, Karen enlisted the help of freelance designer Simon Gornall, who turned his hand away from product design to crafting the interior of the lift at The Fort.

Simon, 31, graduated from York St John University in 2008 and has been nurturing his talent ever since. As a favour he answered a few questions for the blog!

So, I take it you design furniture as well as lift interiors?

Yes, I graduated from York St John University with a degree in design practice, but I am passionate about all elements of design. When Karen offered me the chance to work on the lift at The Fort I was full of ideas.

That sounds interesting, could you explain further?

Well, when I first came to visit The Fort there was a toilet stored in the lift and it gave me an idea to install one, but due to health and safety, it wasn’t possible. I then knew that a tiled finish would look amazing, but I had to consider the weigh and durability, so we went for a vinyl.

You have done something unusual with it though, haven’t you?

As it is going to be a tourist destination, and York is full of great places to visit, I thought why not simply offer a London Underground style map? So the vinyl now has the look of white tiles with a London tube map, but with York landmarks.

Do you feel that lifts get forgotten in building design?

They can. It was essential that we continued the integrity of what The Fort represents, so the lift had to offer something different and creative.

I take it you’ll be at the launch night to show people your work?

I’ll definitely be there.

You can view the proposed image of the lift below.

If you fancy checking out any of Simon’s work, then head over to his online portfolio at www.simongornall.co.uk

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