As a result of coronavirus, my previously booked secret trip to Mauritius to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary was no longer going to be possible after BA cancelled all flights in December 2020.
Taking a risk back in January 2021 when cross-border travel was still not permissible under government regulations, I booked a week in the Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby by way of a ‘consolation’ trip.
I booked through a local rental agency, Whitby Holiday Cottages who have a good online reputation and some excellent reviews from previous customers. Their website is easily navigated and there is a large selection of properties available to suit all sizes of parties and pockets.
I wanted something central to the main town centre with private parking. Not the easiest of choices! Whitby is basically built on the side of the River Esk and at the time cars were not an issue for those living here. As a result, there is a myriad of narrow streets and alleys along with many one-way systems with very little private parking available.
Luckily, however, there are plenty of public car parks available and weekly parking tickets available via the holiday cottage company and other outlets within the town.
The Old Auction Rooms consist of several properties of varying sizes within one building, all of which have a dedicated private parking space for one car available, along with their own main door access. There is a public car park in Silver Street which is literally a two-minute walk from the property.
One other thing to emphasise, and as touched on earlier, this is not an ideal location for the infirm or disabled due to the number of hills, steep narrow paths and steps, cobbled streets etc.
Although we had the postcode for the property it didn’t really help us as neither the in-car GPS nor the iPhone’s mobile version could find the flat. Round and round we went until finally, we relented and asked a local for help. I’m going to suggest that perhaps some directions from the agent would have made a less stressful start to our holiday.
Access to the parking space is tight, but we were able to squeeze an estate car into it. We weren’t using the car daily, preferring to walk, however, you could have some difficulties in accessing and exiting the general area if intending to use a car regularly.
Flat-four is accessed by eight stone steps leading to a lower level and therefore is not wheelchair accessible or disabled-friendly. Also, a word of warning – before entering the flat be very careful as there is a dropped step of six inches with no warnings on the external door.
The bedrooms are located on the ground floor along with the family bathroom. The living area and kitchen space are on the upper floor via a staircase of 12 steps. Both bathrooms and bedrooms feature what appeared to be original old oak wooden beams.
Bedroom one is a king-size bedroom containing a pine bed, side tables and plenty of general storage for a one-week stay. The room was clean and tidy with plenty of bedding and pillows. Mattress comfort is a very subjective issue and all this reviewer can do is state how I found it. For me, the mattress in the room was too firm. Because I have a pre-existing back injury I always take a mattress topper with me to cover such scenarios. As I said, it’s a very subjective issue and a firm mattress might suit another visitor perfectly. This bedroom is located adjacent to the family bathroom.
Bedroom two is a twin room with en-suite facilities and the usual level of expected storage facilities. Both bedrooms are of adequate size for the intended stay. The en-suite is formed by a shower cubicle, wash hand basin and toilet. The family bathroom is much larger and contains a pedestal bath with side filling taps, a walk-in tiled shower cubicle, wash hand basin, heated towel rail and toilet. The only thing missing is a light above the shaving mirror.
Each bedroom was supplied with two large bath sheets, two hand towels and both bathrooms were supplied with non-slip bath mats.
Because of the global pandemic, there was a bottle of sanitising gel located on the wall just as you enter the property, along with a further bottle in the living room for guests use.
The upper floor consists of an open-plan living area and kitchen/diner. There is also a bed settee here providing space for another two guests, making the flat able to accommodate six people. It’s a huge space containing two three-seater leather settees plus the bed settee. There is a large six-person dining table along with a selection of coffee and side tables provided. The free Wi-Fi available worked well with no connection problems. There is a large flat-screen TV with Freeview channels and a stand-alone DVD player.
We found during our visit that the signal to the television was pretty poor and a lot of the time it would drop out or freeze, to the extent that the television became unwatchable for large portions of our stay. This didn’t really cause us any problems are we were out most of the time.
The living room contained a large side table in the dining section which contained a selection of games and jigsaws for children.
The fitted kitchen with island hob unit has everything you need for a stay here, including a coffeemaker, toaster, microwave, fridge freezer, and dishwasher. It’s rather stunning in gloss black against the lighter work surfaces which help marry the whole thing to the original wooden flooring in the old auction rooms. There are ample utensils and cooking vessels provided should you decide to cook rather than sampling some of the finest fish and chips you’ll eat.
It’s a very comfortable living space and with only the two of us, we had plenty of space to lounge in comfort. The colour scheme worked exceptionally well and nothing jarred or looked out of place.
Central heating is provided by a Nest control system which can be controlled by the provided Alexa unit.
We were provided with a welcome pack of coffee, sugar, biscuits and milk and helpfully a file of information providing all the local information you will need from local doctors, dentists and pharmacies to instruction sheets for the oven and microwave.
Centrally located, The Paddock, the name given to our chosen flat, is only a five-minute walk to the town centre shops on the west side of the river- be aware, although it may only be five minutes walk to the town downhill, it’ll be closer to 20 minutes to get back to the flat, or at least it was for us!
Whitby, a delightful seaside resort town caters well to the tourism market but manages to match this with enough shops for the local community from Landers the butcher, to Boothams the baker. There’s also a reasonable size Co-op supermarket.
Whitby offers lots of things to do whether or not you have children, from fishing trips, crabbing off the pier, tourist trips around the bay to see whales and porpoises, if you’re lucky. There’s an open-top tour bus which takes you on the one-hour 30 minutes trip around the main must-see locations. These include the town bandstand, the whalebone arch, Captain Cook’s Monument, Whitby Abbey and the 199 steps.
Covid-19 restrictions meant that during my trip visitors were unable to eat indoors and there were limited options for sitting outdoors due to the inherent geography of Whitby. It also meant that even although we visited over the May bank holiday weekend, having popped out to get some food to take home, everywhere was closed – luckily the Magpie Restaurant’s takeaway outlet was open.
All things considered, we got lucky with the Covid-19 restrictions lifting at just the right time, finding an excellent location with car parking, and being blessed with wall-to-wall sunshine. If you get the chance to visit – do so, it’s a delightful little seaside resort with something for everyone.