This expansive Georgian townhouse B&B wouldn’t look out of place in an interiors magazine. Just two rooms of Union Place, a beautiful 17-room Grade II-listed property in the seaside town of Whitby, North Yorkshire, have been turned into chic, airy guest accommodation.
The elegant 18th-century terraced house is one of four that stands, peacock like, on an otherwise unremarkable suburban street, a five-minute walk up the hill from Whitby harbour. Painstakingly restored over 16 years, it opened as a B&B in 2007. With its period windows, plasterwork and original fireplaces, Union Place’s doors are thrown open to the wider public during Heritage Open Days, an annual celebration of the best of England’s culture, architecture and historical landmarks.
Everything about Union Place is aesthetically pleasing, whether it’s the cast-iron rolltop bath and smart walk-in shower in the enormous bathroom – shared between the two first-floor bedrooms – the original Georgian longcase clocks in the hallway, or the sumptuously lined silk curtains in the living room. In the Green Room, a polished oak sleigh bed takes centre stage, along with a Chinese lacquered cabinet and muted Laura Ashley wallpaper. At the back of the house, with glorious views of the garden and the North York Moors beyond, the Blue Room has a French antique bed, reupholstered in rich ivory brocade.
Downstairs, in the guests’ living room, the scent of fresh lilies hangs in the air and tasteful watercolours grace the walls; there’s a Bang & Olufsen TV and DVD player in one corner and a James Bond-esque 1960s chrome floor lamp in the other. Guests can use the pretty, south-facing garden and, if they wish, take a look round the art studio at the bottom. It’s worth noting that Union Place has a resident dog, Hettie, a very friendly miniature lurcher.
Breakfast is served in the smart open-plan kitchen in the stone-flagged basement. As with any self-respecting B&B, there’s a Full English option: bacon and sausage from Whitby master butcher Landers, kippers from Fortunes, free-range eggs, beans, muffins, toast, mushrooms and tomatoes and, in the autumn, figs from the garden. There’s plenty of choice when it comes to cereals, plus freshly squeezed orange juice, fresh coffee, tea and preserves, either from Bracken Hill Fine Foods or home made to the owner’s recipe. Vegetarians, vegans and food intolerances can also be catered for.
Self-confessed “Georgianophiles”, Richard and Jane Pottas – a watercolour artist and a scientist at the Natural History Museum respectively – spend much of their spare time rooting out quirky objets d’art and fine antiques in the UK and south-west France, where they have another property. “We like to mix the old with the new and wanted Union Place to reflect our home and be somewhere people could relax,” says Richard, who is responsible for the day-to-day running of the house.
The North York Moors National Park is a Shangri-La for hikers and nature lovers. One of the most scenic coastal walks runs from Whitby to Runswick Bay (01723 383636; discoveryork shirecoast.com) part of the 177km-long (110 miles) Cleveland Way.
Brooding over the town, high up on a headland is Whitby’s ruined Benedictine abbey (0870 333 1181; www.english-heritage.org.uk). Follow in the footsteps of the huge black dog in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and climb the 199 stairs to the top. For a fascinating glimpse into a lost world, the Sutcliffe Gallery (01947 602239; sutcliffe-gallery.co.uk) showcases late Victorian life in Whitby and the surrounding area as recorded by the renowned photographer Frank Meadow Sutcliffe.
The Pit stop
If the queues outside Yorkshire’s most talked-about fish and chip shop, the Magpie Café (01947 602058; www.magpiecafe.co.uk), are too long, Trenchers Seafood Restaurant (01947 603212; trenchersrestaurant.co.uk), with a takeaway next door, is a good alternative. For the best Sunday lunch around – everything is locally sourced where possible – head to Cross Butts Stable Restaurant (01947 820986; cross-butts.co.uk) just outside Whitby. Mains (£11.95) run the gamut from beef, chicken, pork, turkey, duck, salmon and cod. Award-winning Green’s Restaurant & Bistro (01947 600284; greensofwhitby.com), directly overlooking the harbour, makes a lovely spot for dinner.
Union Place, 9 Upgang Lane, Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO21 3DT (01947 605501; unionplacewhitby.co.uk). Both rooms are £65 (£70 if booked for just one night over a bank holiday), including breakfast.