I’ve lived in North Yorkshire, the county I call my home, for over a decade, yet in all that time, I haven’t visited any of its coastal towns. I love the hills and dales that surround me here in Skipton, but there’s something magical about the beach and being by the sea. It draws me in. It fills my senses. It soothes and invigorates in equal measure. When the opportunity arose to stay in Ox Pasture Hall, a gorgeous Scarborough hotel in Yorkshire, I couldn’t resist. Ian and I stayed there last weekend. Not only was it the most stunning location, we had the most glorious weather. Consequently, it was the perfect time to get our fix of sea air.
Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel
Ox Pasture Hall is a privately owned luxury hotel set in 17 acres of tranquil country grounds. This gives a true feeling of being away from it all, yet is just a ten-minute drive from the centre of Scarborough and its beaches. It is also in easy reach of York, Whitby and Filey. It began life as a country farmhouse, surrounded by barns and out-buildings and was transformed into a friendly, welcoming luxury hotel. It oozes relaxed style and sophistication.
The Rooms at Ox Pasture Hall
We stayed in the Wetherby suite which has a sitting room and bedroom. The luxury bathroom has got twin basins, a bath and a super powerful walk-in shower. Additional touches: robes, slippers and bottled water made it more special. We’d craved escape and remarked on how wonderfully quiet and tranquil the ambience was. Birdsong was the only sound we could hear. The two televisions; one in the sitting room and one, were somewhat wasted on us. Escape is wonderful but in the interests of a fair and balanced review, I should point out that the phone signal is sporadic. At times, it was non-existent. There is free wifi but an “open” version which Apple devices, (including my IPhone and Ipad), struggle to connect to. I do think this needs addressing because I was unable to contact my children by any means when I was at the hotel. As a pernet, I do need to be contactable at all times.
The Wetherby suite is one of several individual ones in a separate building. Between this and the hotel are two distinct outdoor areas both equally appealing, the first of which has the feeling of being abroad, reminiscent perhaps of a Roman or Spanish courtyard.
The second is a beautifully and informally planted oasis with benches and seating places. We spent an uplifting, relaxing half hour among the blooms.
Around the back of the hotel is a very romantic walkway that I’m sure has led many a bride to make her entrance. This leads to a small lake which was being enjoyed by a goose and her brood.
Dinner In The Courtyard Restaurant
The Courtyard Restaurant at Ox Pasture Hall enjoys a well-earned reputation for its cuisine and fine wines and is the only hotel in Scarborough to have been awarded two rosettes for culinary excellence. It is elegant, spacious and airy and starched linens and stoneware crockery bring about a relaxed formality and a sense of occasion.
We had the Gourmet Evening Menu which began with Onion Mousse: onion puree, savoury granola and pickled China radish. This was divine. The combination of flavours along with the different textures was so unusual. The smokiness of the onion and the sharpness of the radish were the perfect foil for each other. The beautiful presentation is clear to see. Wine suggestions accompany each course on the menu which is an excellent way of discovering optimum food and wine pairings.
The next course was mackeral, celeriac with homemade bread with tartare and celeraic textures. The fish was wrapped in the bread which again led to a tantalising combination of textures and flavours.
The main dish was beef soaked in treacle, carrot textures, pickled blackberries, Pommes Anna and red wine jus. The beef was the most tender and succulent I have ever tasted; the treacle, although subtle, was discernible and highlighted perfectly by the sharpness of the pickled blackberry.
I can’t think of a better way to end the meal than with lemon and olive oil cake with raspberry curd, vinaigrette and sorrell granita. The raspberry curd was very like a sorbet in texture and was honestly, the best I have ever tasted. Ian agreed. The light was fading so the photograph doesn’t quite do justice to the stunning colour combination of the pink and yellow. Each of the four courses was a visual treat as well as one for the taste buds. It’s clear why the Courtyard Restaurant has gained a reputation for outstanding cuisine, matched totally by the friendly, attentive service.
Breakfast at Ox Pasture Hall
Breakfast was just as delicious as dinner; a combination of buffet and table service from a menu. Ian’s Yorkshire breakfast and my Yorkshire ham and hash brown combo, (I know it’s unusual but it was just what I wanted), were again beautifully presented. An ideal way to start the day.
What To Do In Scarborough, The Original Seaside Resort
Scarborough is the original seaside resort. It has two bays with sandy beaches separated by a headland which bears the 12th century Scarborough Castle. The bays are less than two miles from each other, between which an open-top bus runs, which is how we chose to make the short journey.
South Bay, Scarborough
Several people told me before I visited that South Bay was all amusement arcades and candy floss. While thehe brightly-coloured ferris wheel and fairground are indeed a prominent attraction, there’s so much more to it than I’d expected. There is a small, beautiful harbour with a lighthouse. There are ice-cream parlours, shellfish stalls, cafes and restaurants.
By the harbour, at the end of Vincents Pier is Diving Belle is a stunning sculpture commissioned by Scarborough Civic Trust and unveiled in 2007. She represents the Scarborough of the present and artist is Craig Knowles. We both found her quite mesmerising, (as the photograph of Ian gazing at her bottom will attest!)
A Victorian Funicular links South Bay with the town centre. The centre has the usual high street shops plus an array of beguiling side-streets. These house independent boutiques which sell everything from food to vintage clothing.
North Bay, Scarborough
North Bay is altogether quieter and smaller. Cafes, an ice-cream parlour, a small crazy golf course sit on a wide esplanade close to rows of primary-coloured beach huts. There is a sealife sanctuary nearby too.
We thought we really ought to try fish and chips so we shared a plate for lunch at one of the seafront cafes.
The beach at North Bay is a little wilder than that at South Bay. Because of this, it attracts surfers which bring with them a laid-back yet vibrant atmosphere. The soft golden sands are immaculate and there are areas designated for dogs. I can see why Scarborough continues to be one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
We loved every moment of our mini-break. Scarborough has a certain quaint charm but a thoroughly modern feel. If you are looking for an elegant, romantic, country hotel with outstanding food and service close to the beach, then look no further. Ox Pasture Hall ticks every box and we would love to go back.
Ian and I were guests of Ox Pasture Hall Hotel. We would like to extend our sincerest thanks for the outstanding hospitality and the warm welcome we received. (The floral dress I’m wearing is from Kaleidoscope and the blue broderie top that I’m wearing in the garden is from Tulchan).
Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel
Lady Edith’s Drive
North York Moors National Park