Harrogate Travel Guide: Where to eat, sleep and explore

The gentile town of Harrogate might be famous for its Victorian spa and gossipy cream teas, but peek under the petticoat and you'll find a North Yorkshire hub buzzing with crime-writers, 20th century art and big, blousy flower festivals. Turkish Baths & Health Spa Since William Slingsby discovered the first Harrogate well in 1571, the town has been famous for its 'healing' waters; in its Victorian heyday, hundreds of thousands of people flocked to take the 'Harrogate Cure', drinking and bathing in the town's mineral waters. You can still experience the sociable 19th century Turkish baths, with their spectacular Moorish tiled interiorsand relaxed treatments, but if you're more interested in the architecture than the acupressure, there are guided tours of the building most weekday mornings. Housed in the 200 year-old Harrogate Promenade Rooms, one of the town's first purpose built spa buildings, this year alone the gallery is showcasing a celebration of women's art, Posy Simmonds' cartoons and a selection of work by midcentury British-Hungarian artists. The Old Swan Hotel, where Christie checked in under the name of her husband's mistress, Theresa Neele, now hosts the award-winning 'Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival' every summer. From the kitchen garden and foraged woodland to out on the moors,the day's ingredients are always picked from the county's well-stocked larder.