A whale of a time!

Raithwaite Hall.
Raithwaite Hall.
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TRIPS to the seaside always conjure up affectionate images of buckets, spades, donkey rides and chintzy B&Bs.

And while Whitby may embrace that stereotype, it has much more to offer besides.

Cross over the swing bridge in the town centre and you find a collection of cobbled streets, cute shops and little cafes just waiting to be explored. Or if you’re feeling more energetic you can climb the 199 steps to St Mary’s Church and enjoy stunning views out to sea.

Even on a cold and rainy day there’s plenty to do apart from feeding the 2p machines in arcades and meandering around souvenir shops.

A quick trip to the visitor and information centre will load you up with plenty of ideas for things to do. The free Whitby Guidebook is stuffed full of suggestions as to how to spend your day, from visiting Whitby Museum to checking out the latest collection at the Pannett Art Gallery.

And for when the sun shines there are suggested walks, the Abbey to visit and of course boat trips and fairground rides to enjoy for starters.

About 2.5 miles out of town, on the coastal road to Sandsend, sits Whitby Golf Club and across from there is Raithwaite Hall.

My mum and I were staying there for one night and checked in early so we had time to snoop around the facilities and explore the grounds.

We were greeted by a friendly doorman called Dave. He took our bags straight up to our room, showed us what was what and then gave us a brief tour of the hotel. He also suggested a short walk we could take through the gardens and along a path to see some neighbouring alpacas.

The hotel has been open less than a year, but the building has a long and lively history which is outlined in the rooms’ information packs.

In 1991 the then-owner of the hall, William Headlam who was part of a wealthy shipping family, died. The 81-year-old left Raithwaite to his carer Trudi Tanner. Her inheritance of the £7m estate made her a very desirable woman and she was turning away men who were flooding her home with proposal letters and flowers.

The hotel was sold to The Skelwith Group which gave it a £30m make-over with the help of DEPA UK Limited which also worked on The Savoy in London.

And the amount of money spent shows. Everything has a high quality finish, but isn’t intimidatingly posh.

We dined at the hotel restaurant, the Brace Restaurant and Grill. I had a sticky pork belly starter and mum tried the goats’ cheese.

The hotel boasts its 45 day aged beef steaks as its speciality and at £21 – £29 a pop, we were keen to see if they were worth the price tag. They were. They were cooked just as we’d asked, really tasty and the triple cooked chips served with them were delicious.

Even though we were full to bursting, we managed to force down a pudding each before retiring to the bar.

After a cracking night’s sleep in the most comfortable bed I was up early for a swim in the hotel spa to wake me up.

The pool is surrounded by windowed walls looking out onto the garden and there’s also a steam room, sauna, jacuzzi and heated beds to flop out on afterwards.

The spa facilities cover everything you could need with Aromatherapy Associates in the showers, Cloud Nine hair straighteners in the changing rooms and a swimsuit drier.

Feeling nice and pampered we headed down to the best breakfast buffet either of us had ever seen. All the food was fresh and locally sourced and included fresh crusty bread, cheeses, meats, creamy yoghurts, fruit salad, Fruity Kitchen jams and sauces and everything for a cooked breakfast.

Nothing was too much trouble for the staff and you could ask for anything and they’d try and help you.

After we’d checked out, a very short drive took us to the beautiful village of Sandsend which looked like it should be in an Enid Blyton novel with its long unspoiled beach and little grocery shop.

We rounded the weekend off with a brief visit to the lovely Robin Hood’s Bay and an ice-cream overlooking the beach – some seaside traditions just can’t be abandoned!