Whitby has dozens of pubs and bars, yet few enjoy so perfect a position as the Angel, close to the town’s famous swing bridge and with an imposing sun-trap frontage which looks out over the River Esk and the harbour.
All the resort’s major attractions are in easy reach of here. On one side of the bridge there’s the knot of cobbled streets with tea-rooms and shops selling Whitby Jet and the 199 steps up to the dramatic ruins of the Benedictine Abbey. On the other there’s the seafood stands, the amusements, the windswept pier and even trips out to sea, if that’s your thing.
There has been a pub on this site since Elizabethan times. In 1595 this was a posting house where the mail coach would stop to discharge passengers and change its horses. In Victorian times the service ran from here to York, Scarborough and Sunderland. It’s not hard to imagine that those at the end of their journey would seek sustenance in the Angel, alongside sailors on shore leave and stevedores at the end of their shift.
And it’s not so different today. For the past few years it has been run by Wetherspoon’s, and though that will doubtless put a few people off, they’d be missing out on something of a revelation. For the Angel is a perfect example of how this much-maligned company is willing to invest heavily to revive its properties.
Following a multi-million-pound renovation, it is now a bright and airy comfortable public house which makes the most of its stunning location. Light floods into the main L-shaped bar through tall French windows, a further drinking space upstairs gives an elevated perspective to this harbourside view. The broad terrace is a perfect place to sit in the sunshine and take in the sights and sounds of the seaside.
Inside, comfortable booths along one wall feature vast sepia pictures from the collection of photographer Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, whose iconic images chronicled the 19th century life of the town, the port and its people. Hanging overhead, globe lights held in metal frames like lobster pots echo the seafaring theme.
The fare is everything you would expect of Wetherspoon’s, with plenty of choice on the bar and a vast menu which covers all the major bases from breakfast time until late. The beer starts at a competitive £2.49 for a pint, though the prices edge upwards as you head towards quality choices such as Helmsley Brewery’s Striding The Riding and even Brewdog’s craft ale favourite Punk IPA.
But more than all this, the Angel proves for us to be an ideal base from which to spend 24 hours in this lovely seaside resort. Because it’s one of a growing number of Wetherspoon pubs to also offer accommodation.
The hotel side of the business has a separate reception accessed through a door to the side. From here we take the lift to the fourth floor where our comfortable “feature double” room offers views across the harbour and up to the Abbey perched on the headland opposite. Our room is modern and comfortable, ensuite of course, and almost certainly a significant step up from some of the town’s traditional bed and breakfast accommodation.
I dare say, on a Friday night in high season, this place might take on a different character, but on a spring lunchtime, sitting with a pint on the sunlit terrace, it seems like an Angel straight out of heaven.
1 New Quay Road, Whitby, YO21 1DH
Type: Seaside inn
Opening Hours: From breakfast time until late, every day
Beers: Changing choice of real ales and lagers from £2.49-pint – plus quality craft beers including Punk IPA (£3.99)
Wine: Reasonable choice from £2.35-glass and £11.19-bottle
Food: Wide-ranging Wetherspoon menus served from breakfast onwards
Disabled: Straightforward access top ground floor, lifts to bedrooms, disabled toilets
Children: Welcomed, kids meals and high chairs available
Entertainment: TV and games machines
Accommodation: 34 ensuite bedrooms from £69-night
Beer garden: Large terraced area to the front
Parking: Pay-and-display car parks nearby
Telephone: 01947 824730