We were very lucky as we arrived at The Grand, a Britannia hotel in Scarborough – it used to be a Butlins hotel and is now part of the Britannia chain, we found a car parking space!! – well we weren't letting that go so we parked up for 24 hours with a 6 pounds ticket bought from the hotel for 24 hours. Parking near to the hotel is premium, and very difficult to come by and be so near the hotel to drop of cases etc. We travelled by car but the train and the coach station is within walking or short taxi ride to the hotel door.
The entrance is rather off putting with people standing and having their smoking 'fix" just outside the main door! but if you smoke, well that is different. Once you are through, the large lounge/lobby greets you. The reception is small for such a large hotel but the staff are friendly and efficient, they have to be listening to the complaints that are going around the hotel. The area adjacent to the reception is the lounge where people old and young sit and wait for something, I can not quite work out what !! Off the lounge is the bar, which does snacks. The dining rooms filter off this space. The main dining room is down stairs – lifts are available. But take a tip – the top dining room which costs 7 pounds per night is definitely worth the extra upgrade.
The lifts – well they could take a review all of their own!!! – there are two lifts for 5 floors – so you can imagine the wait when everyone checks in at the same time – 2pm on the day of arrival. I was with my sister for the weekend who has learning difficulties so we had arranged for a disabled room. I spoke to the reception staff and asked if we could go to our room slightly earlier, as I did not want Julie to be in a crush to get the keys for the rooms. That was arranged and we were very pleasantly surprised with the room. It was on the second floor with a view of Scarborough Harbour, through two windows and we had two double beds – one each great. The room had en suite, which was large and had a walk in shower with a seat for the disabled person. It had a TV and tea and coffee making facilities.
We arrived on the Friday for a two night break. The first afternoon we had a walk around the shopping centre which is small but very good with all the high street shops, the hotel is very good for anyone with a walking disability as the shopping centre is almost on the flat to walk and to get down to the beach and harbour there is a lift – like a ski lift that takes up to 30 people and wheelchairs, to take you down for 75 pence each one way only.
We dressed for dinner and were among the few people that did, it is a casual occasion for many people, but we were pleasantly surprised the food and service was very good, an extensive menu and good choice. The staff are friendly, understaffed but helpful and always smiling. The evening entertainment, well it was Bingo, a little dancing and then the bingo caller and seller are in the entertainment team so the lady that sang and danced, very well I might add, was selling bingo tickets earlier. It was fine and as the weather wasn't very good and a walk after dinner was out of the question, it was a pleasant end to the evening.
As our car parking ticket ran out at lunch time we decided to have a trip to Whitby, North Yorkshire. Whitby is a lovely working fishing port with lots of shops selling every thing from crabs to sea side rock. A trip on the Whitby Life boat around the harbour and out to sea is good fun, if the weather and tide is with you and it is not too rough. Fish and chips at the award winning shop the Magpie is a must , but be prepared to wait in the queue and it can be a long queue due to the popularity. There is of course the alternative the Magpie Take Away and enjoy sitting on the Whitby Harbour with the gulls who, also enjoy the chips!!
Scarborough Council is making a really big effort to attract the tourist to the town, the military were in town on the weekend we arrived, it was excellent. The Mayor took the march past and all the civic dignitaries where out in force. The town has a comprehensive shopping area, good transport facilities and of course the award winning Stephen Joseph Theatre which is famous for its showing of Alan Ayckborne plays. It is a disabled friendly theatre, with varied and highly acclaimed productions and is in the centre of the town near the station.
Scarborough has many attractions. The Castle stands high looking over the town, two bays the North and South can not be more different the South has the beach, with donkeys on , the harbour, and the "Blackpool" feel, with lots of amusement arcades and fish and chip shops. The South Bay is quieter and has a lovely beach, there is also Peasholm Park and of course the Sea World experience at Scalby Mills – a bus or a little train from Peasholme Park can take you to the Sea World. At Peasholm Park you can sea the 80 year old event of the Naval Battle of Peasholm – yes a Naval Battle with model ships is enacted 3 times a week during the Summer months, it starts at 3pm, check the web site for the exact days. As you pass on the little train, which is a lovely experience for young and old you will see the newly developed amphitheatre. This theatre is the largest open air theatre in Europe! where open air shows are planned for summers evenings, John Barrowman was staring there the following Thursday – shame it wasn't on our weekend. The Castle is worth a visit, not a lot left of the actual Castle, but the view of Scarborough is worth the entrance fee.
The North Yorkshire coast is well worth a visit and using Scarborough as a base is a good starting point. Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay, Sandsend, Staithes are all on the coast. But don't forget in land is Pickering and Castleton all interesting and excellent countryside to behold. Further down the coast from Scarborough is Filey, Bridlington, both interesting and as diverse from one another.
The late Jimmy Saville loved his home town of Scarborough and always sang its praises -" well how's about that then" – so do I. Grand, well worth a visit.