The Principal York

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Coordinates: 53°57′33″N 1°05′29″W / 53.9591°N 1.0914°W / 53.9591; -1.0914

The Principal York

The Principal York is an historic Grade II listed building[1] adjacent to York railway station, England. It is a five-storey building of yellow Scarborough brick and was completed in 1878, a year after the present station opened.

The 1853 Hotel[edit]

The first York station hotel (The York Royal Station Hotel) was opened on 22 February 1853, the architect was G. T. Andrews,[2][3] as an addition to York old railway station. The hotel became redundant after the opening of the new station in June 1877 and was converted into offices.[2]

A menu from 1858 held by the National Railway Museum, York.

The 1878 Hotel[edit]

The new hotel opened on 20 May 1878 as the Royal Station Hotel, York.[2] The architect was William Peachey of the North Eastern Railway.[3] The hotel was designed as an integral part of the new station and the North Eastern Railway Company's flagship hotel, and as such was managed directly by the railway company.[4] It featured elegant, high-ceilinged banqueting rooms and 100 large bedrooms costing 14 shillings a night.

A 27-room west wing was added in 1896, named Klondyke for the Klondike Gold Rush of the time.

In 1923, ownership and management of the hotel transferred to the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER).

Wartime breakfast menu held by the National Railway Museum York

British Transport Hotels[edit]

The station and hotel in 1955

In 1948, Britain's railways were nationalised and with them York's railway hotel. Initially this was as part of the 'Hotels Executive' of the British Transport Commission.[5] The British Transport Hotels brand came about in 1953.

In 1981, an annexe was opened. It uses the building of the erstwhile North Eastern Railway catering department. it is called the Friars Garden Hotel.[6] This was the last investment under nationalised ownership.

A typical turnover at this time was 1981's £1,225,000.[7] This source stated that there were then 135 bedrooms and 23 in Friar's Garden. At this time 24 rooms were not en-suite. The Ebor Restaurant had 52 covers. In 2013, this was The Tempus Restaurant.[8]


Under Mrs Thatcher's government ancillary activities of the railways were privatised and this included British Transport Hotels.[9] The sale was held by public tender. The sale inventory dated October 1982 is held by the National Railway Museum at York.[10]

The first purchaser of the hotel in 1983 was Batchshire Limited (later Distinguished Hotels Limited, Seaco Hotels Limited, Venice Simplon Orient Express Hotels Limited, Orient Hotels Limited/Orient Hotels (U.K.) Limited before becoming Belmond Limited), a subsidiary of Sea Containers.[11] The owners in 2013 are Principal Hotel Company.

Completed in 2016, The Principal York hotel underwent a refurbishment of the public areas, 164 rooms and suites and corridors. Award-winning luxury design studio Goddard Littlefair were asked to reinstate the hotel’s essential character to help position it as a great destination to spend time in, as well as being a great place for visitors to stay in.

The new scheme is designed to breathe life back into every corner of the building, giving a nod to tradition, whilst creating a light, welcoming and contemporary environment in the form of a modern and softer country house interior.[12]


  1. ^ Historic England. "Royal York Hotel with area railings attached at side and rear  (Grade II) (1256559)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Fawcett, Bill (2001). A History of North Eastern Railway Architecture: Volume 1: The Pioneers. North Eastern Railway Association. p. 56. 
  3. ^ a b Denby, Elaine (2002). Grand Hotels: Reality and Illusion. Reaktion Books. p. 66. ISBN 978-1861891211. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  4. ^ Fawcett, Bill (2003). A History of North Eastern Railway Architecture: Volume 2: A Mature Art. 
  5. ^ An illustrated history of British Railway Hotels 1838–1983 by Oliver Carter, Silver Link Publishing, 1990, page 91
  6. ^ An illustrated history of British Railway Hotels 1838–1983 by Oliver Carter, Silver Link Publishing, 1990, page 122.
  7. ^ Preliminary Particulars.... Royal Station Hotel....York, 1982, held in the National Railway Museum York Search Engine archive item 2003–8849 Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  8. ^ "The Royal York Hotel website". Retrieved 3 December 2015. 
  9. ^ retrieved The Spectator Great Hotel Robbery article 19 October 2013.
  10. ^ Inventory, National Railway Museum archive no. 2003 9152
  11. ^ An illustrated history of British Railway Hotels 1838–1983 by Oliver Carter, Silver Link Publishing, 1990, page 124.
  12. ^ "Modern Hotel interior Design | Hotel Interiors UK | The Royal York Hotel". Goddard Littlefair. Retrieved 2016-06-23. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Royal York Hotel, York at Wikimedia Commons