A few years ago, Lee Robinson and Steve Gledden opened Judges Court Hotel as a sister property to their existing hotel, The Churchill. I recently stayed at this eccentric inn, reputedly one of the most haunted in York.
From 1720 through 1806, the building that is now Judges Court Hotel housed men of the law who traveled to York to sit in judgement at the Assizes Court twice a year. Generally aristocracy or government officeholders, these Judges needed a centrally located place in which to stay during court sessions. While staying at Judges Court, the Judges condemned over 200 people to death over the years, including infamous highwayman, Dick Turpin.
A friendly welcome
I found the hotel’s wee entrance passageway easily, but only because I used Google Maps, as well as got verbal instructions from people who knew the area (hint: it’s near the Coney Street Card Factory).
I checked in at the ungodly hour of 9 am, but was met with smiles and a very welcoming and hospitable attitude. The front desk facilitated my luggage drop, promised to move my bags to my room when it was available, and I hurried off to enjoy a full day in York.
When I returned to the hotel for a meeting, I found another warm welcome, a room key, and complete instructions on how to get back in through the passageway if I returned after 9 pm. I also learned that my room (Room No. 8) was used by Sir William Lee, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. Somehow, his spirit sensed a Welsh language learner would be staying, and managed to get me in his room! Either that, or it was the only one available. And my bags were, as promised, in my room, which was lovely and lush, especially after the blustery chill outside.
Eccentrically-decorated but luxurious rooms
Judges Court has two deluxe twin bedrooms (that can be converted to king bedrooms), 8 deluxe king bedrooms, and five luxury rooms with four-poster beds – some of which have roll top bathtubs in the bedroom (all rooms have gorgeous en-suite facilities with drench showers). I, of course, couldn’t resist – a luxury four-poster room, please!
The free wifi was password-protected and plenty strong enough to conduct my short business meeting. The room was lovely and large, with a well-stocked mini-bar, although the hotel staff are also delighted to make up a pitcher of cocktails and bring it to your room (it’s an advertised service, in fact). The large wardrobe had not only hanging space and drawer space aplenty, it also hid the espresso machine, kettle, and nibbles. One wall was papered with a large quirky line drawing, adding a touch of insouciance to the design, as did the vault door in the corner next to the disused coal fireplace… Was it mere decoration, or a portal to the past?
The bathroom was deliciously large, with a roomy shower space with drench shower head as well as a handheld wand. The hotel stocks large bottles of Cowshed toiletries in the rooms – hand soap, lotion, shampoo, and body wash – which is really wonderful for the environment. They do keep bottles in the bar area for purchase if you love Cowshed so much you want to take it home. The bathroom has an intelligent design – heated towel racks, a high shelf running wall-to-shower offers plenty of toiletry space, though a small table is between the twin hand basins as well. And the water glasses are large and sturdy. In my experience, this is one of the few inns in the UK to provide facecloths as a matter of course. A water bottle hangs in the bathroom as well, in case you just cannot get warm one night of your stay… the owners really have thought of everything. The desk was a good size and included a retro-design radio – a great design detail.
No dining room, but the inn is surrounded by a variety of tasty breakfast spots
The hotel does not have a kitchen or dining area. Guests can, however, preorder breakfast by hanging a tag on the bedroom door and breakfast will be brought to your room from a nearby café. Given the hotel’s location, though, several wonderful breakfast spots were only steps away. The hotel does have a handkerchief-sized lounge area with drinks available, as well as a checkerboard for chess (or checkers). The glass collection for drinks is extensive, sturdy, and beautiful [photo], although if you want cola as your mixer, they’ll serve Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola – a wonderful, traditionally-brewed cola – with little similarity to modern colas.
On check-out day, the staff happily helped me store my bags and packages until I was ready to leave.
A superlative lodging experience
All-in-all, Judges Court Hotel offers a superlative experience, from bed and bedding to magnificent shower, to the obliging and warm staff. The location is superb as well.
The Skinny: Judge’s Court Hotel, Coney Street, York, YO1 9ND; Ph. 01904 676184 Rates range from £130 for prepaid in off-season to £200 changeable in-season. Judge’s Court Hotel also offers rooms on the ground floor, though there are several exterior steps to navigate to get to the ground floor of the building.
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