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Harrogate Area Guide

The popular spa town of Harrogate is one of the most sophisticated destinations in the north, with stunning buildings, wide-open parks and a long list of attractive shops and restaurants throughout the town.


Maybe there's something in the water that makes Harrogate residents the happiest in the country according to many recent surveys.

Or it could be something to do with the vibrant town centre, glorious countryside and superb local facilities. It's no surprise then that this beautiful spa town is regularly voted one of the best places to live in the UK.

Harrogate offers a wide array of shops: stylish retail outlets and Hoopers department store line James Street, while glossy independent boutiques, private art galleries and antique shops create a unique shopping experience around Montpellier and Parliament Street. There are numerous food outlets, such as Weetons and Fodder which sell high quality, locally sourced produce and a number of major supermarkets.

Harrogate is a thriving business centre in its own right but also offers fast, easy access by road or rail to Yorkshire's other major business destinations and the North East. Leeds and York also benefit from high speed rail connections to London, and Leeds Bradford International Airport is just 10 miles away.

Families in Harrogate have a wonderful range of schools to consider at both primary and secondary levels in the state and independent sectors. North Yorkshire County Council education authority ranks highly in the UK for GCSE and A-level results. Comprehensive schools Harrogate Grammar, St Aidan's High School and St John Fisher High School all achieve GCSE results significantly above the national average (according to 2013 league tables). In the independent sector, Ashville College and Harrogate Ladies' College are both highly regarded. Springwater School in Starbeck provides education for children with severe or profound learning difficulties and has been ranked 'outstanding' by Ofsted (2011 Inspection report www.ofsted.com).

 
What we love about Harrogate


In a nutshell

The popular spa town of Harrogate is one of the most sophisticated destinations in the north, with stunning buildings, wide-open parks and a long list of attractive shops and restaurants throughout the town. 

The very picture of genteel Yorkshire respectability, Harrogate owes its landscaped appearance and early prosperity to the discovery of more than 80 ferrous and sulphurous springs that, by the nineteenth century, turned Harrogate into one of the country’s leading spa resorts. The Victorian Royal Baths, the Moorish-style Turkish Baths and Health Spa, the Royal Pump Room and the old Promenade Room of 1806 are all elegant examples of Harrogate’s heritage. 

With acres of well-tended open green space across The Stray, the 120-acre Valley Gardens and the botanical gardens at Harlow Carr – visitors and residents are spoilt for choice when it comes to lush outdoor space.  

Housing stock

Harrogate has everything you would expect from a town that is regularly voted one of the best places to live in the country. With something for everyone, Harrogate boasts a Victorian heartland including attractive terraced homes, starting from £200K, and ranging right up to the grand £3m plus Victorian mansions. There are also a wide range of luxurious town centre apartments to choose from.

With many pre-war neighbourhoods including semi-detached and detached properties set in significant plots, there is plenty of scope to secure development and renovation projects. A boom in construction in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s significantly expanded the town and a new wave of housing developments from national, regional and niche housebuilders, both in the centre and on the outskirts of town, continually appeal to all types of homebuyers. 

Surrounding towns and villages

Scattered throughout the Harrogate District are several chocolate-box villages as well as the Cathedral city of Ripon and many pretty market towns like Pateley Bridge, Masham, Knaresborough and Boroughbridge with open squares, independent shops, tea rooms, cafes and restaurants, as well as museums and galleries.

 

Schools

 

With a great selection of private and state schools – parents are spoilt for choice. There are over 60 primary and secondary schools and colleges in the Harrogate District. In the heart of Harrogate, popular secondary schools include Harrogate Grammar School and St Aidan’s Church of England School. 

 

Transport links

Harrogate railway station connects to Leeds in just 35 minutes and York in 40 minutes, as well as offering direct services to London Kings Cross. Leeds Bradford Airport is also easily accessible from Harrogate in under 30 minutes. 

Harrogate is around 15 miles from the A1M and there are also good bus services to Leeds (the ‘Harrogate Bus’ number 36 runs regularly and takes just over an hour), Wetherby and York.  

Shoppings

With a great selection of well-established independents, including the legendary upmarket fabric and home emporium – Woods, and even the Queen’s former lingerie supplier, Rigby and Peller has a shop in Harrogate. The Montpellier Quarter is a hub for stylish independents and there are lots of well-known high street brands including Primark, The White Company and Jack Wills in the town. James Street, West Park, Cold Bath Road, Commercial Street, Beulah Street and Parliament Street all provide plenty of opportunities for retail therapy and there’s also a great range of supermarkets. 

 

Eating and drinking

 

When it comes to eating and drinking in Harrogate - the famous Bettys tea rooms is a huge pull for tourists and locals alike. With a town centre tea room and another based on the outskirts of town at Harlow Carr, its popular cafes and shops sell a range of delicious treats and there is often a queue snaking around the corner of Parliament Street with eager customers patiently waiting for the unique Bettys experience. The Ivy is the place to be seen in Harrogate town centre with a glamorous décor and delightful menu. 

There are also lots of established national chains sitting comfortably alongside independently owned restaurants and cafes. Many locals make sure they support the stalwarts of the town including the likes of William & Vics, The Drum & Monkey and The Orchid. Once the food has settled, there is a tremendous choice of independently owned and managed pubs and bars in Harrogate. 

Leisure time

Golfers can choose from four established golf courses in and around Harrogate, which are of a championship standard. With popular and well-established rugby and football clubs there’s a match nearly every weekend! There’s also a thriving athletics club, a park run, a plethora of gyms, a modern leisure centre, a fabulous indoor climbing facility and a gymnastics centre at Hornbeam Park.. For a more relaxing time Harrogate boasts two cinemas - the swanky Everyman and great value Odeon. 

 

Harrogate's claim to fame

Harrogate is most famous for its cream teas and Turkish baths. The classic spa town is also well-known for its quaint streets, historic houses, landscaped gardens and charming welcome. Harrogate has been put on the international map at least twice – once when it hosted the Eurovision song contest in 1982 and again in 2014 when it served as the finish line of the first stage of the Tour de France.

 

Harrogate's best kept secret

Harrogate’s Royal Hall, which is over 100 years old, is well-known for its spectacular décor and breathtaking setting but many people don’t realise that Harrogate theatre runs a fabulous programme of entrainment throughout the year with a series of nationally renowned companies alongside live comedic performances and musicians.  Harrogate theatre also hosts an annual fun packed pantomime in its own charming building – oh yes it does!