I spent a few nights in York after Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed myself, so much so that I'm heading back before EBBC next year (see you there?).
Why do I think its a contender?
The pubs for a start, there are (allegedly) 365 of them, but its not the quantity that matters but the quality. As well as the new York Tap there are;
Pivni -(The original Pivovar venue) is tucked away in the shambles. Somehow they managed to cram a load of casks and kegs in (you can see the casks stillaged behind the bar) and on my visit it was standing room only. (Twitter)
House of Trembling Madness (also a magnificent bottled beer shop) - I didn't get a chance here but did peruse the shop. Its amazing, a good thing I didn't bring my wallet as I'm sure I would have struggled to carry home my purchases! (Twitter)
Brigantes - Spent a lunchtime here, fairly upmarket looking inside, but prices are good. I liked how the handpumps were split into light and dark beers, with prices clearly displayed on the blackboard. There's a fair bottle selection and my burger was excellent. (Twitter)
The Maltings- A true street corner local, with bare wood floors, old notices adorning the walls and a bar counter made out of reclaimed doors. Simple but tasty grub. Look out for the rude clock! (Twitter)
The Punch Bowl - the best of the 4 Nicholson's pubs in York. Just a small front bar for drinking as the rest of the pub is set up for diners but an interesting range of beers (outside of the usual Christmas specials you might expect) plus mulled wine and cider. Just the thing when its cold and wet outside. (No Twitter)
The Volunteer Arms- a backstreet local, you wouldn't expect to find much in the way of beer here but they have 4 handpumps and real cider, all in good nick, friendly staff, no noisy background music and comfy seats. Spent a pleasant hour here on my final evening in York.(Twitter)
There's the York Beer and Wine shop (resplendent with cheese counter) that's been there for 26 years.
Outside of beer there are a host of tasty eateries, cultural and historical attractions (York Dungeon, Jorvik, The Walls, Art Gallery, Museums) and plenty of decent independent shops, tea rooms and other miscellanea tucked in all over the city.
With the high density of bloggers in Leeds it seems York doesn't get as much coverage in the blogosphere as perhaps it should. It is only 20 minutes away by train after all. If you've not been for a while or even ever then do yourself a favour and head along. I'd recommend booking a room though as there's too much to do in a single day!