Newest Review: ... meeting before the wedding so didn't use them, but we did store things in them and they looked great, with really comfortable leather ... more
Marmadukes hotel? Suite! (pun intended.)
Hotel Marmadukes (York)
Member Name: low_rider
Hotel Marmadukes (York)
Advantages: Comfortable, luxurious, excellent staff
Disadvantages: Don't offer a full time restaurant, but it isn't needed!
As some of you may know, I got married in August. We had decided that we only wanted a small wedding, as Mrs. F's family is very, very extended, thanks to the fact that none of them are on their first marriage. Northerners, eh? Still, can't say anything as I am one, now. The divorces and intrigue made for a huge logistical headache, and we couldn't be fussed with it.
Initially we were planning to go abroad, and get married by ourselves as part of the honeymoon, but after much cajoling from parents and siblings, we agreed to get married in the UK. As we are based in York, we wanted to find a small, luxurious hotel, and Marmadukes, a three star hotel just outside the city walls, answered our needs perfectly.
Located in a leafy side road off Bootham, a popular Edwardian road just outside the city walls and Minster, Marmadukes consists of two beautiful old Victorian houses. It used to be part of the De Bretton group, which went into administration early this year, due to unpaid bills. If you search for Marmadukes, you might well find links telling you it is in administration, but fear not! There is a new management structure in place and it is doing better than ever.
Marmadukes is a boutique hotel, and you can tell how much care and attention has gone into decorating it. You find wonderful old antique furniture throughout, including a very valuable old Regency Sofa in the main hall, which create a sense of opulence and comfort. If I had one complaint, it is that the two lounges on the ground floor are quite dark - St. Peters Grove is a very leafy road, and you don't get much sunlight. The lounges only have one window, so I found them a little bit dim.
However, Marmadukes recently had a new conservatory-cum-dining room built. With windows at both ends and a vast skylight, it is a bright and sunny room. With a water feature outside one of the windows, we knew it would be the perfect room for the ceremony. This is also the room where breakfast is served in the morning. Next to the conservatory is the bar, a well-appointed and chic affair that serves a variety of wines and beers.
For conferences, there are several state-of-the-art conference rooms with projectors, etc. We had vetoed the idea of holding a board meeting before the wedding so didn't use them, but we did store things in them and they looked great, with really comfortable leather chairs!
There is a beautiful walled garden outside, filled with lavender. My wife thought it was so lovely she actually based her decision to have the wedding at Marmadukes on it! With wrought iron tables and the pleasant buzz of bumblebees, it is an ideal place to enjoy a lazy light lunch on a sunny day, and sit back and sip at a glass of wine.
There is a spa at the end of the garden, complete with sauna and hot-tub, which are free for use by hotel guests.
There are 20 rooms in total, so the hotel is very quiet, even when full. Each room is decorated individually and is a different size. There are two single rooms, then a number of petit doubles (smaller rooms), deluxe doubles (larger rooms), four poster suites (huge beds!) and finally the Loft Suite, a three room mini apartment at the top of the hotel.
Again, the furniture tends to be antique, and looking at it you can tell it is of high quality; real hard wood, with all the decorations and flourishes in a master carpenter's repertoire. The rooms vary in size, and sometimes it can be a little misleading - we were shown a number of the rooms, and were surprised to see that one of the four poster suites was, if anything, smaller than one of the petit doubles, despite costing more! I would advise you to ask to see the room first. If you aren't satisfied, ask to see another.
Each room has a bathroom, and almost all have a bath - I believe only the singles have just a shower. The bathrooms epitomise luxurious bathing. Slate-tiled floors provide a chic and cool finish, and thoughtful touches such a bath-side tables and champagne buckets (yes, champagne buckets in the bathroom!) make you realise that this is a hotel with comfort in mind. "Look", the furnishings say, "why not use us? Order some champagne, light some of those candles over there, and why don't you two have a bath together?". It would take an iron will to resist the call of the bucket.
As Bride and Groom, we were given the Loft Suite for the night.
When you first go through, you find a lounge, with two leather sofas, LCD TV, DVD player, Playstation and computer desk (WiFi is provided to hotel guests). Then through a corridor. On the right, you have the piece de resistance of the Suite, the Bathroom (it deserves a capital letter). Complete with a free standing bath, separate shower with side-by-side shower heads, you almost miss the defining feature of the room - a barrel sauna built right into the wall. Let me repeat that - a barrel sauna. Literally, someone stuck a huge barrel into the wall and then installed a sauna into it. Does it get any more luxurious than this? The toilet is in a small, separate room to the bathroom, which was a great touch. Through to the left, you have the gorgeous bedroom, with a king-size bed, CD player and separate dressing room.
To be honest with you, I would happily live there, if I could ever afford the 300 odd pounds a night it costs to stay.
Food and restaurant:
When Marmadukes went into administration, one of the first things to go was their full time restaurant. As a result, they lost their four star rating and now have a three star rating. This works to your advantage, though, as it reduces costs whilst giving you the highest quality stay you will ever have at a three star hotel. They do provide a cooked breakfast. You order hot food from a menu, and the breakfasts are sublime; local meat, well sourced and well cooked. Highlights include scrambled eggs with salmon on an English muffin, and a full Yorkshire breakfast. What distinguishes a Yorkshire breakfast from an English breakfast I have yet to find out, but one thing I've noticed about Yorkshire is that they always have to have their own version of things. London Eye? We have the Yorkshire Eye. Puddings? We have Yorkshire Puddings. Bread? We have Yorkshire Flatbread. Hollywood hunks? Sean Bean, baby!
They are slowly reintroducing a dining service into the hotel, and are doing regular gourmet evenings where a three course meal is provided. They also provide a full menu service for events (such as our wedding). The food was fantastic and individually tailored to our requirements. I had potted duck for starters, which was the tenderest I have ever had, with slow cooked lamb for mains. The lamb fell apart in my mouth, and was delicious, sweet and herby. The creme de la creme was the chocolate terrine I had for dessert with boozy cherries. York is nicknamed Chocolate Town as it is the home of Terry's (of the chocolate orange) and Nestle. This dessert was the chocolate maker's art rendered down into the epitome of rich, sweet, cocoa-ey chocolateyness: I wasn't even allowed to finish it, as my wife quickly stole it from me and consumed it with a look of rapture on her face. Quite possibly the highlight of her day. The food is incredible, well worth a try.
Marmadukes is a really beautiful and luxurious hotel. The staff are friendly, courteous and efficient, and as it is a small hotel, you get to know them quite well. Best of all, you really get the feeling that nothing is too much trouble for the manager, Andy, and his team. They went to every length possible to ensure that our wedding went off without a hitch. Andy even took it upon himself to take care of my new sister-in-law's baby during the meal, so she could enjoy herself without worrying! Andy has really turned the place around, and flicking through the guest-book - always a good gauge of a hotel - I found nothing but positive reviews.
The hotel is built around the idea that guests should be comfortable, something that you just don't get in larger hotels. Individual touches in each room, such as unique portraits and pieces of furniture, make you feel less like you are staying in a hotel and more like you are in some Jeeve's-and-Woosteresque country house, with every need attended to by a busy and invisible staff. The beautiful garden and spa provide a quiet haven in one of the busiest areas of the most popular city (after London) in the UK. If I had to sum up the hotel, I would say relaxing, comfortable and dedicated to you.
If you are looking for a venue for a wedding or meeting, I would heartily suggest Marmadukes. Marmadukes does have a civil ceremony licence, but if you want to get married elsewhere, it is a stone's throw from the registry office and very close to town, so would be easy to get to if you had a ceremony somewhere in York. We had a perfect day, and it was all thanks to this small haven down a leafy road in beautiful York.
Tel: 01904 640101
Prices: Available on enquiry
Summary: A perfect wedding at a perfect hotel.
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