Hull? Really? Yes, Hull. I sense your initial judgment of this Northern UK city because I did exactly the same thing when I first confirmed this press trip to East Yorkshire earlier this month. To be honest I’ve judged Hull my whole life and when I lived in York it was absolutely the one city we always avoided. Even my Mum and friends looked at me in pity when I said I was going to Hull for the weekend and for some reason I got a little defensive and wanted to stick up for the city! It’s always had a little bit of a bad reputation so ultimately, I wanted to find out why and possibly, hopefully, change people’s minds on that.
With Leeds, Newcastle, Harrogate and even Sheffield as competing cities Hull wasn’t ever likely to be found on many UK travel itineraries. It was always going to be tricky to compete or emulate with these popular destinations so when Hull won the prestige ‘City of Culture’ award in 2017 I think people were a bit surprised. Hull then became the place that didn’t need to compete. It found the confidence to be itself, be unique and stand out that little more than it had in the past.
It’s easy to get to by car and train, it’s located by the River Humber and because it’s not yet made it on to many people’s radars, it’s still a relatively cheap part of Yorkshire too.
It’s got a story, it’s got character and whilst they’ve regenerated, they’ve still managed to keep that certain charm that smaller UK towns and cities sometimes lose. Did you know that Hull was the second-most war-damaged city in the UK after London in WWII? I didn’t either. The city struggled to get back on its feet for years afterwards and they’ve spent so much money on regeneration to help change how it’s perceived locally and by the rest of the world.
For slightly sentimental reasons I also wanted to come to Hull because before moving to York at six years old I was brought up in East Yorkshire and was born in Beverley, a small town just on the outskirts of Hull. My Grandad worked at Hull docks for over 30 years as a ship plater and my great-great Grandad was a Commodore based out of Hull. I’ve always felt a pull towards this part of the UK and I’m not going to hide the fact that I did get a little emotional when visiting certain parts, especially The Last Trip, a striking, permanent memorial installed in Hull city centre, which commemorates the 6,000 men who set sail from St Andrew’s Dock in Hull but never returned home.
The people are friendly, the bars stay open late, and there’s an incredible amount of independent food places and coffee shops. Hull has its own communications network and no BT links which explains all the cream coloured phone boxes you’ll see. (Though Holly from ThriftyMum and local ‘Hullensian’ girl pointed out that it’s not as great as people think because it’s monopolised, and I can see her point).
The accent is fab… think “cowld” for cold or “brock” for broken (I’m guilty of this one). Even across the rest of Yorkshire, the Hull accent is regarded as being completely different from what is generally considered to be the official ‘Yorkshire’ twang. It’s as if Hull has strived to stand out intentionally with a rebellious independent streak over anything else.
A friend of mine that lived in Hull for a few years said that after a night out with her friends in the city they’d all wake up and say, “It’s never dull in Hull”! and quite honestly, I think they’re right!
So, as usual with blog posts that are a little closer to my heart I’ve waffled in the intro and I know I need to bloomin’ get cracking with what was I’m meant to be writing about…our weekend in Hull!
Along with nine other bloggers from various locations around the UK we all met on Saturday morning at the Hilton Hotel and quickly got to know each other with a round of coffees and some friendly introductions. Usually, on group press trips, I click with one or two people, but I knew within a few hours that everyone on this press trip was lovely and I don’t think I’ve been with such a warm, funny and talented group of ladies! Whilst we were there to see and experience some of the best things in Hull, having a weekend with people who I genuinely liked and enjoyed being around really made it for me.
I get a little bit soppy about things like this and value these experiences more than your average press trip.
Paul, a local Hull tour guide from Visit Hull who knows anything and everything there is to know about Hull including where all the best pubs are (thanks Paul) met us at 11am to spend a few hours on a walking tour pointing out and talking about what the city has to offer.
On our route we heard about Hull’s impressive maritime heritage along with inspirational stories about the city’s history, including Beverly Gate which allegedly sparked the English Civil War by refusing to allow King Charles I entry into the city – bet you didn’t expect a little bit of a history lesson on today’s blog post did you? 😉
Nicola from MummytoDex briefly chats about the fishtrail walks you can do in her blog post… if you’re intrigued to know what they are (and they’re much more interesting than they sound), read her post here. 🙂
I know Paul only scratched the surface in the short time we spent with him and there’s so much more to see and do, but here’s a few things we covered:
I can’t help but start with the food! It’s what I get most excited about and when I hear somewhere has a food market, I always have a little Google or Instagram search to see what stands and suppliers are there. I would love for Reading, my current hometown, to have a market like Trinity Market, I think it’s unequivocally important for local people and local suppliers for a town or city to have something like this. Hull Council supports these traders (a whopping 40% of Hull city centre traders are indies) and that’s more than Reading Council will ever do I think, sadly.
Anyway, we managed to nab a bench big enough for all of us and very quickly, the table began to fill with all different kinds of food. Greek, Indian, Chinese (the spring roll portion is mahoosive!). We had brownies from Cocoa Chocolatier and coffees from Caffeinated…it was pure foodie heaven!
I went for the Paneer Makhani with rice and naan from Tapasys. I watched it being made and it was incredibly good. Hot, fresh, full of flavour and was generous in portion size with no scrimping on the paneer either. These Hull folk ain’t half kind! 😉
There’s a thriving food and drink scene in Hull that seems to be growing quite fast and I’d go as far as saying it’s 100% a food adventurers paradise! Don’t miss the Fruit Market, another venue full of independent suppliers, Taphouse Brewpub (my brothers’ recommendation) and Ambiente, another indie foodie which initially began in York and where we ended up eating at on Saturday evening.
If I was to When I go back, I’ll be heading on over to Thieving Harry’s or Bert’s Pizza and Gelato.
Believe it or not Hull has its own local delicacy: the pattie butty and chips! A battered mashed potato and sage pattie, in a sandwich, with chips. Gemma from Family on The Go ordered this when we went to the Lion & Key pub for Sunday lunch and I had massive food envy! Top it off with some Hull chip spice and you’re well on your way to experiencing some proper Hull tradition!
Just outside Trinity Market and in Hull’s Old Town is Hull Minster. Currently the home to an exhibition which has brought spectacular representations of Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel masterpiece to East Yorkshire giving visitors unprecedented access to the artist’s magnificent paintings which adorn the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome’s Vatican.
Now, I’m not usually the type to enjoy walking around churches and minsters but on occasions like this, I do. We walked around to the sound of the Hull Choir filling their lungs, admired the beautiful bright windows and paintings and found out a few little titbits about the Minsters history.
Was it worth it? Of course, how many times can you say you’ve seen this?
Plus, Hull Minster is no ordinary Minster. In addition to its regular services it also hosts theatre performances, beer festivals and live music!
We wandered through Blaydes Shipyard where the famous HMS Bounty was built and through Queen Victoria’s Square…
And spent some time in the Museum Quarter (all free entry) with a little walk around the StreetLife museum, a museum dedicated to transport through the ages with recreated streets, trams, shops and even smells!
Never would I have thought I’d have seen a Georgian street like this in Hull. Looking like it should belong in Notting Hill or some other London district the pastel doors, pretty sash windows and red bricks make for the perfect photo!
There are actually quite a few streets like this in Hull, you just need to wander down one of the cobbled streets to find them. Keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready.
Hepworth Arcade is a rare, L-shaped Grade II listed Victorian shopping arcade dating back to 1897 with an intricately designed glass roof. Full of interesting independent shops it makes for a nice walk and provides shelter from the rain. It’s where you can find one entrance to Trinity Market and it was also the home of one of Marks & Spencer’s first penny bazaars!
I’ve seen Hepworth’s Arcade be described as magical and once you walk through it and find out a little more about its history, you can only then understand why. Maybe it’s also a reference to the 85-year-old Dinsdales Joke and Trick shop where you can stock up on whoopee cushions and bangers! Who knows?! I’d probably describe it as quirky.
You can’t mention Hepworth Arcade without speaking about Hotham’s gin school and their gin making experiences. I apologise now for the tipsy stories I posted on Instagram (but not really) …the fact my lovely gin partner Mandy doesn’t drink booze meant I HAD to drink her share too… 😉
The gin experience lasts around 3-4 hours and I didn’t realise just how much fun it would be. You get to learn all about the gin process, choose your own botanicals (cherry, vanilla and marshmallow for us) and leave at the end of the day with your own bottle of gin!
Mandy’s and I’s ended up coming out at 54%abv so yeah…I’m looking forward to opening that baby soon! 🙂
I also learnt I’m not very good at drinking and listening to instructions which meant that downing my shots instead of “sipping” is the reason why I ended up quite merry… you can take the girl out Yorkshire…but the moment she goes back, look what happens! 😉
There’s a lot of winks in this post… I would usually remove…but I’m leaving them in this time and I’m absolutely not sorry about that either!
Staying on the booze theme…
Once the third biggest maritime port in England I guess it’s only expected that Hull would have so many pubs and breweries. Like any good tour guide Paul pointed out some of the most famous pubs in Hull. With a little twinkle in his eye he also let us know which one he visited the most purely because the bus stop outside is where he catches the bus home after a long day showing people around the city.
We “oo’ed” and “aah’ed” at the pretty buildings and admired the architecture…
Took a gander at Hull’s most historic pub, Ye Old White Harte…
Peered through the smallest window in the UK at The George Pub on a street named ‘The Land of Green Ginger’ (yep that’s a real street name) …
Can you believe there’s even a pub called ‘The Cheese Pub”? Pretty gutted Paul didn’t take us there to be honest 😉
For those who want to learn more about the city’s pubs there’s even a planned Ale Trail specially made for you!
Saturday finished with a group dinner at Spanish tapas restaurant Ambiente. It was a bit of a funny experience to be honest and I found the whole vegetarian thing a bit weird. The staff were lovely, the food was OK but the menu choices were just a bit strange… we also had a bit of a laugh when the waiter brought out a big platter of steak, looked at me and said “This isn’t vegetarian”… he wasn’t joking either. As if I wouldn’t know steak wasn’t veggie!
Anyway, the paella was cooked beautifully, and we did have a really nice time but I’m putting that one down to the company rather than the restaurant and food itself.
Our home for Saturday night was the Doubletree by Hilton Hull and whilst a few other bloggers didn’t have a great time… cough, ahem… because their rooms were accidentally sold on and I was the only one to get a warm cookie on check in (I know, blogger problems) 😉 I actually slept soundly and drifted off about 20 seconds after my head hit the pillow on my giant queen sized bed.
I’ve stayed at quite a few Hilton’s in the last year with work and the biggest noticeable difference for me about the Hull Hilton was how much more modern it is. Sometimes the Hilton’s feel… a bit… well, dated? Like they were once upon a time a great hotel chain, but now, they’re just not so…nice?
But Hull’s Hilton seems to be one step ahead from many others around the UK and I’d be happy to stay there again. I couldn’t hear the nightclub on the roof, nor the traffic from the busy road below and the breakfast was spot on!
On Sunday morning after breakfast we made our way over the Hull’s famous aquarium, The Deep. Located a five-minute walk away from Hull’s Old Town The Deep is dedicated to education and conservation as a non-profit attraction.
Rachel from Out and About Mummy wrote a dedicated post about her experience of the Deep and even included a little video too, have a peek here.
We settled down for some lunch at the Lion & Key who’s ceiling is completely covered in thousands of beer mats!
The garden is quirky, and this pub is probably an excellent example for all you non British folk reading this wondering what a real British boozer is like. There’s a microbrewery next door and an incredible amount of craft beers on tap.
My vegetarian chilli was just what I needed before I was to head back on over to York.
Hull’s £25m+ investment program is still underway so can you imagine just how much better this cutting-edge city is going to be? I love it’s ambition, it’s proudness, how it dares to be different, but overall I love that it doesn’t forget it’s history and its roots. Watch this space…I bet we’re going to see even more of Hull in the next few years to come.
This trip was hosted and paid for by Visit Hull but as usual all opinions and photographs belong to Hello Cuppies.