In the County of North Yorkshire, on the North East Coast of England, lies the fishing town of Whitby. This town set in a natural harbour at the mouth of the River Esk has been an important maritime host to centuries of fishing, whaling and commercial port activity.
Saint Hilda founded Whitby Abbey in 657 AD, nothing much is recorded about Whitby before then, apart from a Roman lookout point on the cliff top. From the headland where the Abbey looks out across the North Sea, here grew the initial beginnings of this historic port.
Staying in a house in Grape Lane, Captain James Cook served his apprenticeship in Whitby. This house is now the Captain Cook Museum. From here he left to join the Royal Naval and began his well documented and successful career in navigation and discovery. Another famous seafarer was Sir William Scoresby, a prominent whaling captain in the late 1700s. He invented the Crow's nest lookout and a statue depicting this is in the square near to the Tourist Information Centre.
In the entirely fictional history of Whitby and the North Sea is the tale of Dracula. In the Novel by Bram Stoker, Count Dracula came ashore in the form of a large black dog, when the ship The Demeter was shipwrecked just off the coast. Stoker stayed in lodgings on the Royal Crescent in Whitby, and it is thought that the abbey inspired this classic gothic tale.The association with Dracula and the dark Gothic tale has been the inspiration for the Gothic Weekends which occur twice yearly in spring and autumn. Starting from humble beginnings in 1994, this event has grown tremendously and has put the town of Whitby firmly on the map for the Gothic community both here and abroad.
There are many modern day activities which attract the visitor to Whitby, aside from its rich history. Ever since Victorian times, there has been a steady stream of visitors eager to enjoy the delightful picturesque setting of this quaint town. The demand for accommodation, however, has risen sharply over the past few decades, as the towns popularity has increased. Part of this increase is due to the television coverage both by the hit series 'Heartbeat' (a fictional light-hearted drama about a country policeman) and a succession of cookery, walking and one off documentaries set in and around the area.
For those of a limited budget, the Whitby Guest House can provide a more or less equal standard of accommodation to the larger Whitby Hotels. The standards of the Guest Houses have increased dramatically over recent years . In general, the breakfasts are more often than not cooked by the proprietors themselves and often include a full English breakfast. There is no hard and fast rule on the definition of an Hotel and a Guest House save that an hotel will offer perhaps lunch and dinner whereas a Guest house will usually only offer a breakfast. En-suite accommodation is nowadays offered in the majority of Guest houses apart from a few of the smaller establishment where the number of rooms sharing a bathroom will be minimal. A percentage of the rooms on offer must be en-suite in order to register with the English Tourist Board or the local accommodation agency,.
The Guest Houses are predominantly situated on the Whitby West Cliff. Many of the large houses built by George Hudson in the 1800s are now being used as Guest Houses. A number of buildings set around Pannet Park are operating as such in addition to those on the outskirts of the town. A popular alternative to Hotels, the Guest House offers homely, friendly accommodation with personal attention.