What is the story?
It may be a coincidence that this red-brick Victorian police station turned dingy B&B has been remodeled into an intimate but glamorous pad by two Italians. But it’s impossible not to feel a shiver of dolce vita as you walk through the hotel’s black double doors. Pale terrazzo floor tiles, cool white walls, low marble tables, and simple linen-covered seating give the place a languid air, helped by the glass of sparkling Italian wine upon arrival.
The Vices was born when Moreno Carbone (IT consultant and design enthusiast) and his partner, Daniel Curro (sommelier and chef), decided to create a hotel that looked like a private home. They wanted a place with five-star service where customers could submit to be spoiled, or “give in to their vices”. Why York? London was too hectic and Brighton not bustling enough, while York offers great culture, but on a small scale.
What do we like?
The B&B’s 14 rooms have been reduced to three suites, each ridiculously large. As is the case throughout the hotel, there are few doors — the spaces flow together like in an art gallery — and although designed within an inch of their life (it took three years to transform the building), the suites seem effortlessly simple. Furnished sparingly, but with extravagant bespoke pieces – a glass bed, a solid brass table, a leather lounge chair, sea-green Venetian glass bedside tables – they are just the good side of the minimalist. Bathroom time should be included in your itinerary so you can play with everything: multiple showerheads, mood lighting, a soft pink (yes, that means transparent) crystal tub in a suite, and a white Japanese-style tub in another. The lights are marvels – art installations as much as illuminators.
The no-choice tasting menu at the 14-seat Allium restaurant (open Wednesday through Saturday) is less valuable than I feared: halibut with wild mushrooms picked in the morning; a bowl of melted La Tur Italian cheese to mop with buns; a dehydrated strawberry, woodruff and white chocolate combo. The near-black dining room – eat here or in the equally inked Wine Library (Italian wines only) – opens directly into the kitchen, where Yorkshire-born chef Luke Sanderson calmly moves around, as if preparing a light lunch.
It’s a 20-minute walk along the riverside path beside the Ouse from the bottom of the road to York town centre; en route, take a short detour over Skeldergate Bridge to the recently restored 13th-century Clifford Tower, York Castle’s largest remnant, with views across the rooftops (£8; english-heritage.org.uk). Opposite, York Castle Museum offers a journey through the city’s history, including a recreated Victorian street and 1960s fashion (£13; yorkcastlemuseum.org.uk). Fossgate and Walmgate are a five-minute walk from here, two streets with independent and artisan restaurants that make great lunch breaks. The iconic York Minster is a further ten-minute walk (£13; yorkminster.org).
Helen Pickles was a guest at The Vices, which offers B&B doubles from £400; tasting menu £80 (thevices.co.uk)