|Gisborough Hall Hotel|
The grand and ivy clad Gisborough Hall Hotel is still a family affair owned by the Chaloners, aka Lord Gisborough, but it is currently open to all as a hotel run by the Macdonald Hotel group. With stunning views over the Cleveland Hills, this 19th century country mansion is on the road between the urban centre of Middlesbrough in Teesside and the picturesque seaside town of Whitbyin North Yorkshire, famous for Whitby Jet, fishing, and Dracula.
A popular wedding venue, this quirky hotel, which is straight out of a Harry Potter book, offers something for the day visitor, the business traveller or the weekend breaker, and staying there won’t break the bank either.
|An upgrade madam?|
The hall is full of quirky features from compendiums of games in the drawing room to half a stuffed lion in a case, which may surprise the casual guest in one of the hotel corridors. The son of lord Gisborough has an estate in South Africa, so I am guessing that the presence of a fair assortment of stuffed wildlife has some connection with this fact.
|Is half a lion, half as scary?|
The hall’s grand exterior and public rooms are still very traditional in feel with lovely original mullioned windows, furniture and oil paintings. The grounds have rose gardens and a fountain and even a few llamas at the bottom of the drive. Sadly, they proved very camera shy on the day I was there.The suites in the hotel are all individually designed with names like the Fountain Suite which is also the bridal suite. There’s the old nursery, the Admiral’s room, and the Rose room too. The bedrooms in the new wing have been recently refurbished in a more modern style, with flat screen TVs and all mod cons.
|Stunning Autumn colours|
A nice touch in the rooms, is loose leaf tea with a proper tea pot and tea strainer, the only hotel I think I’ve been to where tea bags weren’t standard. Upgraded rooms (including those with 4-poster beds) add decanters of sherry, designer toiletries and turn down service. There is also a small spa the ‘Revival Zone’ where you can go for a relaxing massage if you choose.
|Monkey or dragon?|
There is a choice of dining options at the hall. You can dine in the large airy Chaloner restaurant which looks out onto the grounds, a more formal option for an evening meal, but there is also the super modern G bar and bistro, more asian in its decor, which has a trendy coloured glass mosaic bar and a giant mirrored Buddha in the corner!
If you don’t want a la carte – although they do do a very reasonable three course special – then the hall can cater for those with a more substantial appetite. Wednesday is steak night with two meals and a bottle of wine for £40. Thursday is pie night and Friday is fish and chip night. You can’t get much more traditional English cuisine than that!
|My kind of evening|
Gisborough Hall was the Baronial seat of Lord Gisborough, whose family – the Chaloners – have a fascinating history. They didn’t take on the name Chaloner until the 13th century, and this unusual and interesting name, of early medieval English origin, is an occupational surname for a maker or seller of blankets. It is likely then that the family were probably originally tradesmen. Roger Chaloner (1485-1550) became Teller of the Receipts of the Exchequer and his son was the famous Sir Thomas Chaloner who became MP for Knaresborough and Ambassador to Spain.
The estate had been leased during the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII by Thomas Leigh. When Leigh died Thomas Chaloner married his widow and bought the Gisborough estate from the crown for a mere £854.13.4d. The family still hold a painting of Sir Thomas Chaloner by Holbein in their collection. The estate was passed down through the family and was even leased to the council as an old people’s home in 1945. The hall became a hotel in 1972 and was completely renovated in 2000.
|Cosy co ordinates|
Lord Gisborough who is now nearly 90 years old, still owns the hall. He lives close by, and pops in every day. He brings in comb honey from his own hives and olive oil from his son’s estate in South Africa to sell at reception and sometimes books too, to add to the library and the rooms.
|Anyone for Rummikub?|
There are said to be three ghosts at the hall, all friendly, including a nanny that kneels by the foot of the bed in the nursery and a butler who can be heard rolling barrels at night. Happily I didn’t see any when I was there. If you are looking for an affordable place to stay in this picturesque part of the country, you can get a dinner bed and breakfast package for just £69. At Gisborough Hall Hotel you will be right next to the beautiful North Yorkshire coast and countryside and can have a slap up full breakfast complete with local sausage, bacon and black pudding in a stunning stately home before you set off on the next stage of your travels.
|Big Buddha is watching you|