Hotels in Scarborough, United Kingdom
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Scarborough – Britain’s Premier Seaside Destination
If you’re looking for a traditional bucket and spade break, there’s surely nowhere better than Britain’s very first seaside resort – Scarborough. Perched on Yorkshire’s east coast and bordering the North York Moors National Park this fun-filled port has attracted generations of holiday makers since the 17th century. The town continues to be one of the most popular coastal destinations in the UK today thanks to its grand Victorian architecture, arcades, and dual sandy bays. Ideal for short breaks by the sea, there are many hotels and guesthouses in Scarborough to choose from, in the town or on the seafront.
All the Fun of the Fair
Scarborough, originating from the 10th century Viking settlement of Skarðaborg, became a magnet for traders in the Middle Ages, thanks mainly to its annual six-week festival, Scarborough Fair. The fair ran for some 500 years until the 18th century and spawned a famous folk song of the same name, which was covered by American singers Simon and Garfunkel in the 1960s.
Scarborough’s later success, however, was as a tourist destination – although it only came about thanks to a chance discovery. Elizabeth Farrow, the daughter of one of the town’s leading citizens, stumbled across a natural spring beneath the cliff in the south of Scarborough in the 17th century. Nothing unusual about that, you may think. However, the water had a particular bitter taste (thanks to a high concentration of magnesium sulphate) which was found to cure minor ailments. Word got around and visitors flocked to Scarborough Spa.
Scarborough Spa – a magnet for Victorian holidaymakers
The spa town grew in popularity in Victorian times and tourism boomed with the opening of the York to Scarborough Railway in 1845. The Grand Hotel, towering over the South Bay and the largest hotel in Europe at the time, was opened in 1863. Scarborough never looked back. Of all the seafront hotels in Scarborough today, the Grand Hotel remains the most impressive and most imposing.
Getting to the promenade and the beach from The Grand Hotel’s elevated position on top of the cliff, however, could be hard work. Holiday makers were spared the steep walk up and down the adjacent steps thanks to the creation of a tramway in 1881. A total of five funicular lifts were constructed in Scarborough in this era. The one next to the Grand is one of two still in service today.
The other one, 284 feet long, takes visitors from Scarborough Spa, which is now an entertainment and conference venue, to an elegant flowery Esplanade. The Esplanade features three beautiful gardens laid out in front of a line of Victorian houses with a maze of wooden paths leading down the cliff face. There are several exquisite hotels and B&Bs overlooking the coast here.
A tale of two bays
Scarborough has not just one seafront, but two. The South Bay and the North Bay are separated by Scarborough Castle protruding into the North Sea. Although the South Bay is home to The Grand and another few hotels, the majority of guesthouses and apartments in Scarborough are found by the North Bay and around the famous Peasholm Park.
The South Bay is where all the action is though. Its long stretch of golden sand runs in front of a series of amusement arcades, cafes and fish n’ chip shops. You can enjoy a traditional donkey ride along the beach or delve around in its many rock pools at low tide.
At the far north end lies the marina with its three piers. The inner harbour welcomes fishing vessels, whilst the outer port hosts leisure carriers, including a pleasure steamer which runs hourly cruises along the North Yorkshire coastline.
The calmer North Bay
A brisk walk along Marine Drive around Scarborough Castle will take you towards the North Bay. On Blenheim Terrace and the surrounding streets, you’ll find some of the better-value seafront hotels and guesthouses in Scarborough. There is a further selection near Scarborough Cricket Club and the fabulous Peasholm Park.
Peasholm Park is amongst the most beautiful parks in the UK. You can while away the hours ambling or rowing around the boating lake and its centrepiece island adorned with a Japanese pagoda. The tranquillity of this setting, however, is regularly disturbed by the sound of gunfire, diving planes and exploding ships. The Naval Warfare Show with its 20-foot-long replica boats has re-enacted famous battles here for over 80 years and is still as thrilling as ever today.
Scarborough’s North Bay beach is certainly a more pleasant environment than its more boisterous South Bay counterpart, fully warranting its Blue Flag award. Away from the main road, in front of a chalet-lined promenade, it is a nice place to stretch out and relax.
Between the beach and Peasholm Park, you can embark on a short steam-train ride on the North Bay Railway towards Scalby Mills and the Scarborough SEA LIFE Sanctuary aquarium. The track runs past Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre – the largest in Europe. Originally created in the thirties, it reopened in 2010 and is a popular concert venue.
Scarborough town centre
If you want to break from the sea and sand, Scarborough town centre, tucked in behind the South Bay offers a nice selection of international restaurants and shops. You’ll also find a few guesthouses, hotels and branded economy lodges and inns within a short walk of the railway station.
Whether you’re visiting Scarborough for a family break or searching for some late deals by the sea, Britain’s premier resort is sure to offer you a cure for your holiday blues. There must be something in the water…