Tag Archives: The Fort Boutique Hostel

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!

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?

Honeymoon in a hostel

Kennedy’s Bar and Restaurant (next door to The Fort, and the essential venue to visit if you want gorgeous food or a fun night out) recently welcomed a wedding party.

As a reception venue, the partying to celebrate Katie and Lee’s union continued long into the night, with guests from further afield needing accommodation. Now, with one of the UK’s leading boutique hostels right next door, numerous guests booked a night with us.

You may be thinking, ‘Why would a wedding party want to sleep in a hostel?’ But if you view the images on our website, or throughout this blog, then you will see we offer more than just a dorm. The double rooms offer four star hotel standard luxuries, each with en-suite wetrooms.

We recently tweeted about people turning to boutique hostels for their honeymoon now although we haven’t had a couple on their honeymoon as of yet, we would thoroughly recommend it if you are travelling across the UK and fancy something different.

So, if you are planning your big day, don’t hesitate to contact Kennedy’s Bar and Restaurant; or us here at The Fort for your accommodation needs.

Don’t forget to check us out on Twitter, as we offer tweets that will not only keep you updated about us here at The Fort, but also offer something a little quirky – just like our accommodation!

Oh, and if you have visited our blog before you may notice that it’s had a complete overhaul (along with our to do page) so now you can link straight to the options available on the website!

Everyone deserves a bit of luxury, don’t we?

If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook, then you my have well seen us highlight that we were recently featured in a rather fabulous article in the Independent. The feature piece was focused on how hostels have become far more desirable places to stay, and that how this trend is now a worldwide trend.

We have heard various terms used in association with boutique hostels; including flashpacking, glostel and poshtel, but what has been confirmed through articles like the one in the Independent, and from our own experience, is that people still want the backpacking travel experience but aren’t prepared to compromise on quality.

Now we aren’t saying that traditional hostels aren’t nice places to stay; but what we are experiencing is that the austerity measures that are taking affect are causing people to search out accommodation that affords the feel of a hotel, but won’t make a large hole in your pocket. Benji Ladyano of the Guardian supports this argument, and says that the entrepreneurial spirit of the hostel owners, coupled with the desire to find holiday on a budget, is leading to this new breed of accommodation.

If you follow us on Twitter you may have noticed we like to keep our tweets as quirky as our accommodation, and one tweet that went out was ‘are you ready for the boutique hostel experience’. Now that may sound rather pretentious, as if staying in a hostel requires oodles of forethought, but we think there is an element of truth in it (that’s why we tweeted it!).

We believe that boutique hostels offer something for everyone: regardless if you are over 21 and demand more from your hostel; a hardened backpacker who fancies sleeping in a comfier bed with easy access to the heart of the city;  or if you are simply a student who has a limited budget, but want a creative space to inspire you but that has easy access to the universities, then you are all ready.

At the end of the day, aren’t we all ready for a little boutique experience? The team at The Fort encourage anyone who is thinking of traveling to the UK’s favourite city (as revealed by Rough Guides) to check out The Fort and see if you can resist our luxurious, creative delights!

We’ve included a few images of the street party that recently took place outside The Fort; it was a collaboration between Kennedy’s Bar and Restaurant (the fabulous place next door) and Mulberry Hall to celebrate the wedding of Kate and Wills.

For further info then please visit our website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Essential York (on a budget)

Can you believe that we are already in March?!

Regardless of the time of year (or where it seems to be going) we are keen to make sure that our guests enjoy their stay at The Fort.

We are aware that our guests choose to stay with us, not simply because of our creative use of space, but that they are looking for affordable accommodation. Therefore we feel it our responsibility to give you the inside info about what there is to do in this fabulous city – especially activities that are either free, or easy on the pocket.

We regularly check out reviews on Hostelworld (our booking site) and have noticed that the ‘fun’ aspect of The Fort is not as high as we would like. As we are situated in the hub of the city, only a stone’s throw from many amazing places, we feel that giving you an insight into what there is to do will enable you to maximise your time and enjoyment of city – and your stay with us.

Here then are our top tips for the discerning guest at The Fort:

1.     The Yorkshire Pass: This offers you the opportunity to save money with unlimited access to York’s top attractions for 1, 2 or 3 days. Click here for more info and to purchase your pass!

Kennedy's Bar & Restaurant offers 20% discount to all those at The Fort

2.     Kennedy’s Bar and Restaurant (next door to The Fort): The premier nightspot offers all guests staying at The Fort 20% off all food and drink during their stay. So, if you fancy a hearty breakfast or a round of cocktails, then head next door to Kennedy’s and start saving.

3.     To maximise your time during the day (and if you don’t get a Yorkshire Pass) make sure you call the Jorvik Viking Centre in advance to avoid the queue. The number is 01904 543402  (have your method of payment ready).

4.     Money saving vouchers: If you follow this link you will see an array of vouchers that are redeemable at various locations across York; from 2for1 entry to The York Dungeon to money off Yorkshire food. Simply print out and start saving!

5.     Rowntree Park: As York’s first municipal park offering numerous activities throughout the year, this is a fantastic and award-winning space to explore on sunny days.

6.     Castle Museum: Recent winners at the 2010 York Tourism Awards, this unique museum celebrates York’s colourful past that has pleased countless visitors to the city; free after your first visit, it is certainly worth a making a beeline for.

7.     National Railway Museum: Attracting over 1 million visitors a year, one of the largest collections of restored steam trains (and those in service today) is a definite crowd pleaser. With free entry, the NRM offers something for everyone more (not just the budding train enthusiast!).

The lift at The Fort offers you the chance to find your bearings

8.     York Art Gallery: Displaying work by William Etty (one of Britain’s most influential artists) the York Art Gallery is showing David Hockney’s work (from Feb-June) called ‘Bigger Trees Near Warter’. Free to enter, this recently refurbished gallery offers a reflective space to while away the hours.

Before we go we just thought we would say that we attended the ‘Hoscars’ the other week (if you follow The Fort on Twitter you may have seen that, BTW it’s @thefortyork if you’d like to join us). The Hoscars are the Oscars of the hostel industry (as the name suggests) and the big trend at the moment is boutique hostels. Not that we didn’t already know that, especially from the lovely comments and influx of guests from all corners of the globe!

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!

Christmas is coming…

Here is just one of the ice sculptures from last year's Festival of Angels in York

As we always like to bring you insider information on what’s happening at The Fort we tracked down Andrew Elcock – The Fort’s main man. As someone definitely in the know and a long time resident of York, who better to ask about what’s been happening in the great city over the last month and more importantly, what’s happening with The Fort, now and in 2011.

With a plethora of events happening at Kennedy’s (the bar next door to The Fort) and numerous festive revelries to partake in, we asked Andrew for an update!

How is business at The Fort?

Great, it has been a success story from the opening night. We have had bookings from around the world and have advanced bookings through until next June. We recently welcomed our 500th guest the other day – people may have spotted that on our Twitter updates. The new website has certainly helped with bookings and allows future arrivals, a real feel of what has been achieved.

We always keep an eye on the comments that are placed on Hostelworld (and thank people for them) and we are currently looking at adjusting the double rooms to match the dorm room in regards to its bathroom door; we want to provide the ultimate in hostel experience and have some brilliant ideas up our sleeve!

York Minster was central to this year's festival, Illuminating York

York is a hive of festival activity at the moment, how have you found them this year?

A few weeks ago we celebrated Illuminating York, which has been going from strength to strength for the past three years. You can see various images of York Minster, creatively illuminated at this amazing festival on our Facebook page. There has also been St Nicholas Fayre, which certainly adds to the festive feel of the city. Finally we are looking forward to the Festival of Angels this weekend. With a hog roast, Mulled wine, Winter Pimms planned at Kennedy’s, we invite all those at The Fort to join us at this event.

Now the snow has been pretty bad in Yorkshire, has it had an impact on The Fort?

The weather has been pretty troublesome as people have been unable to move around the country and therefore they have been unable to reach us, but people have been popping into Kennedy’s and taking full advantage of our winter warmers!

Kennedy's: the perfect setting for festive fun

What can The Fort look forward to in 2011?

The Fort is only stage one of an ongoing project. We aim to create an even bigger and better experience for our guests that will include a larger communal area. Of course with expansion comes the need for fresh design talent to enable us to keep The Fort so unique.

Thanks, Andrew!

Check out a few images of last year’s Festival of Angels (and the recent snow!). Make sure you check out The Fort’s Facebook Page with updates of the Festival activity and events of what’s happening at Kennedy’s Bar and Restaurant.

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