With its stretches of beaches and bracing air, Scarborough has been attracting vacationers for centuries – and for good reason.
While nearby Whitby offers a more quaint, ‘old world’ charm, this North Yorkshire seaside town does it big, from the flashing neon signs of its arcades and ice cream parlors on every corner to its imposing Victorian architecture that pierces the sky, from the imposing Grand Hotel to the picture-perfect spa theater mentioned above.
During a weekend, we stayed in one of these large buildings: the Derwent House Apartments.
Set in the beautiful stretch of five-story townhouses in Esplanade Gardens that slopes down from South Bay, it is a stone’s throw from the beach and is the perfect location from which to explore the city.
However, with every little attention to detail in the apartment, you may want to spend a lot of time inside to enjoy the accommodation.
The old house, which was built in 1852 when Scarborough was transformed into a holiday resort, has a long history of restoration for visitors to the coastal spot.
A hotel since the beginning of the 20th century because of its privileged location, it even housed the men of RAF Bomber Command, before becoming a hotel again after the war.
Most recently the Derwent Hotel, it started a new chapter in 2019 and underwent a sympathetically comprehensive multi-million pound refurbishment to convert it into five self-contained apartments, which are a mix of two and three bedrooms.
Each apartment is named after a local beauty spot along the course of the River Derwent. Ours was the Ganton, a two-bedroom duplex apartment at the top of the house (luckily there’s an elevator to take you between floors.)
Elegance flows through this apartment from the wood-panelled master bedroom with views of the city’s Victorian red-brick rooftops to the kitchen that looks like it’s straight out of the pages of an interior design magazine.
The latter is incredibly well equipped, from a great range of wines, which can be purchased, to drawers stocked with every kitchen amenity possible, complimentary scones and a Yorkshire Post to sit back and relax on arrival .
Smart TVs, wifi and an Alexa are standard, but for more traditional entertainment there’s also a range of board games, such as Monopoly (Scarborough edition, of course) and Articulate plus fashion tomes from coffee table and local history books to leaf through.
There’s great attention to detail in the rooms too, with earplugs in case you’re not used to the cry of seagulls and L’Occitane toiletries in the bathrooms. Parking permits are also available on arrival for on-road parking outside.
High Victorian ceilings and large bedrooms, plus an en-suite and master bathroom, mean there’s plenty of space, for up to four or six people to share the apartments – making this a great value value for money, especially when booking off-peak.
*Prices for Derwent House start at £180 per night for 2 bedroom apartments, but in summer increase to £325 per night at weekends. 3 bedroom apartments start at £210 and go up to £400 in summer weekends. For more information, visit derwenthouseapartments.co.uk
A lemon top, whatever the weather, is a must on a trip to the North Yorkshire coast. This tangy blend of ice cream topped with lemon sorbet is addictive stuff.
Fish and chips are also almost obligatory (don’t feed the seagulls who have gotten too used to the discarded fries).
Like any beach town worth its salt, seafood in general is also plentiful and you won’t have to go far strolling along the waterfront for a quick crab sandwich or a pot of whelks.
But while all the old coastal culinary traditions are on offer, there is also a wave of more modern restaurants to try.
We really enjoyed our visit to Clark’s in Queen Street, which makes great use of Yorkshire produce in its dishes.
Locally landed seafood features heavily, such as Scarborough crab, lobster and seaweed, along with produce from the vast agricultural county of Yorkshire, such as grass-fed beef and a range of game.
To start, I enjoyed a rich and brilliant risotto in white truffle oil and parsley with Wensleydale, Styrian pumpkin pesto, PX sherry syrup and toasted pumpkin seeds (£9.5) . It was a really inventive take on a classic dish and a great portion size for the price.
My main course was also a veritable feast of flavours: a light, pan-fried Scottish halibut whose delicate natural flavor was accentuated with a burnt St Andrew’s Cheddar & Woldgold Ale rarebit, served with a richer sprout and potato hash and a rich Scarborough lobster, oak smoked salmon & root vegetable bisque (£28).
:: Save your legs by traveling on one of the funiculars. Scarborough is home to the country’s first cliffside railway.
:: Stroll through the Orient without leaving North Yorkshire. Peasholm Park in North Bay is a charming park with its oriental-themed pagoda, lake and waterfalls. Watch out for the naval battles which are a real spectacle.
:: Enjoy a show at Scarborough Spa. Shows this season include Carmen, Dr Hook, Russell Brand, Jason Manford and The Illegal Eagles.
::Standing proudly between the two bays, Scarborough Castle dates back to the 12th century and was once a large royal fortress. It is operated today by English Heritage.
:: Always a family favourite, Sea Life Scarborough has over 2,500 creatures, including penguins, otters, clownfish and blacktip reef sharks.