Just a quick trip report from the North of England. Found some Ryanair flights too good to pass up - 34 euros return, departing Stuttgart mid-day Thursday and returning afternoon Sunday. Of course we couldn't get by without cabin baggage per their new policy (the only free bag is one that can fit under the seat) so that added 18 per person. We didn't opt to reserve seats on the way over, so they placed us separately and in the middle seat. It was unpleasant enough that we paid an extra 7 euros each on the way back to sit together. (That flight was half-empty but flight attendants still chastised a woman who moved to sit with her partner once boarding was complete, forcing her to sit in her assigned seat.) So the "real" total was 59 return, which is still a pretty great price.
More Ryanair notes: Our flight to Manchester was delayed by about an hour, but it had snowed heavily that morning and they had to de-ice the plane on the runway, so I don't blame Ryanair for that. Our flight back departed on time and got in about 15 minutes early. Service was fine. Ryanair now lets you use their app to show boarding passes, but since we were non-EU residents we had to print ours out so they could be written on at the gate. I don't know why this is, and it was hardly presented in big flashing lights, so as always - the budget air carriers are fine as long as you read the fine print and know what's expected of you!
I'd pre-booked our train to York on the Transpennine Express because it saved us a lot of money than buying day of and we got reserved seats included. I'd given us 2 hours from our expected landing time to get to the train, but with the delay that meant we only had about 8 minutes. The tickets were non-refundable. It was a risk I was willing to take, but I'd almost booked us on a train 30 minutes earlier, so keep that in mind in general when you decide to pre-book specific trains for cheaper prices after a flight! You have to be prepared to potentially eat that cost.
The train ride to York was surprisingly picturesque, especially when we skirted just north of the Peak District National Park. More places to visit in England! The train had decent WiFi once we could get it working, no cafe car but 2/3rds through the trip a snack and beverage cart did come through (alas we'd been running for the train so we didn't have any pounds on us). We were starving when we arrived so we decided to go to our old standby, the surprisingly good train station pub, the York Tap. Excellent craft beer selection, but unfortunately this time they only had cold snacks, and let me tell you, a cold pork pie isn't nearly as good as a hot one. We then grabbed the bus to our hotel, the Tower Guest House, just north of the hospital.
On our first trip to York we'd stayed in a wonderful room at the Staymor Guest House, but the entire place was booked. I ended up liking the Tower more, because it was slightly cheaper but the room was even nicer, with incredibly thoughtful details AND a great full English breakfast to boot. I'd still heartily recommend either hotel, though. Both are about equidistant from the center (20 minute walk or so) but the Tower has the benefit of being on a major bus line if you don't feel like walking at night in January. (Or you can do as we did and be lazy and use Uber. We usually only paid a pound or two more than a bus ticket would have cost for both of us anyway).
Another benefit of the Tower is that there is a 3-times daily shuttle to the city center, which we made use of after getting settled in our room. So we departed at 19:00 to wander the city a bit (i.e. visit pubs) before our dinner reservation.