Yorkshire has a hidden gem, where you get the benefit of the outdoors while not compromising on style or comfort. Stylish Stays Yorkshire, with their two self-catering cottages, provide a vision of what country life should be. All thanks to the unyielding and specific attention to detail of Lorna Harrison and her husband Chris.
However, while the picture of tranquillity and comfort it is surprising how much work goes into keeping the cottages up to Lorna’s particular standards!
Breaday Gill and Folly Gill are nestled in the hamlet of Silpho, at the south-eastern corner of the North York Moors National Park. The luxury escapes are set just a stone’s throw away from Robin Hoods Bay and Whitby, where Phantom Thread, the latest and apparently last film with Oscar-winner Daniel Day Lewis, was filmed. Despite their tranquil setting, this isn’t the only exciting thing going on. From Yorkshire wildlife safaris to whale watching or a day exploring the historic City of York or Castle Howard, this corner of North Yorkshire is far from sleepy. This May, the Tour de Yorkshire will go right past the farm!
Breaday Gill has two en-suite bedrooms and Folly Gill is a generously proportioned one-bedroom cottage with a proper cast iron roll op bath and separate rain shower.
“They are exactly how I wanted them to be,” Lorna says, “We aimed to mix the luxury of a boutique hotel with the space and privacy of a holiday cottage. Our guests love the working farm and that the business is family run. They also love being off the beaten track but still within easy reach of Whitby and Scarborough.”
She goes on to reveal that she takes the time to listen and read all of the comments and testimonials left by her guests as a matter of principle.
The cottages are a slick and stylish combination of rustic and modern. The polished concrete floors compliment the lush warmth of the beds, sofas and chairs, which according to Lorna, is a testament to her husband Chris’ love and talent for picking out furniture.
“Chris is fanatical about this and has been very selective about the kind we had in the cottages; Mid Century Modern meets contemporary, elegant and not high-street, with the comfiest beds and mattresses we could find was the final choice.” She tells us.
Award Winning Style.
The cottages have won their fair share of awards and Chris and Lorna’s home has been featured on restoration television show Building A Dream as an example of how to do it right. This is impressive for a couple with engineering and house-building experience, but even more so when you discover that neither Chris or Lorna had any such experience before embarking on the project and had to teach themselves everything.
“It was a learning curve. I had to learn interior design and get my head around how I wanted the cottages to look,” Lorna explains, “We were quite early with the grey tones, which are very popular now. Many things had to be organically developed, including the design itself. We tried to listen to the buildings. As an example; there is a structural tie-bar that runs through Folly Gill. We polished it up, gave it a new life and it works well. That’s what I like. Leaving things that are already there helps to tell the story of the buildings. Dressed stone, 19th century nails, niches and things like that – we leave them in and make everything else very slick.”
Over and above this, both cottages have Wi-Fi, superb baths, underfloor heating and all the modern amenities that a weary traveller may desire after spending the day exploring this beautiful corner of North Yorkshire .
THE LITTLE TOUCHES
Bringing up two sons, working part-time with her husband and occasionally helping her father on the farm leaves little free time, but Lorna somehow still makes the effort to personally meet each and every guest. The demographic is quite wide, including young trendy couples, families, international guests, retirees and even sports people.
“Repeat business is very important to us,” she says, “And building those kinds of relationships is what I love. Part of this is the little touches, such as seasonal chocolates or biscuits during Christmas periods, strawberries and cream during Wimbledon or knowing that a particular guest likes something from the village and getting it in for them.”
“It’s how we want it to be,” she adds, “If we have it the way we want it to be then that is the best thing for our guests.”
There is a great deal of Lorna in the cottages. She reveals that seven years ago, she was left to make a decision about the farm after her brother left for Africa. She didn’t want it to be a straight-laced farm because it did not suit her and her personality. While she admits to being useful during lambing season, thanks to her little hands, this wasn’t the sort of thing she wanted to be doing every day.
Lorna reveals that she does have what she labels as a “touch of OCD” and has directed it purposefully into making sure that the cottages achieve her standard of order and cleanliness.
“I am methodical about how my guests perceive my cottages and I take this to the point where I’ve promised Chris that if I ever get less than 5 stars I’ll close the business!” she laughs. “I clean them myself and go as far as using a UV zapper. The structure of the cottages naturally regulates humidity. This results in naturally healthy spaces. I do all the laundering of the bed linen myself. The choice of polished concrete floors came about not only because they look amazing but also due to their anti-bacterial and anti-microbial benefits. I want the place looking how I would want to find it as a guest – gleaming.”
For Lorna, the cottages need to look and feel brand new. Previously, she has been an amateur jockey and worked with racehorses (she still keeps some on the farm) and she was always an advocate for the horses arriving looking their absolute best. Standards are everything. To this end, she and Chris often spend nights in the cottages to make sure that everything is up to their particular standards.
“I had a guest stay once who forewarned me that she had massive OCD. After her stay she said to me personally that the cottage she stayed in ticked all of her boxes. I took it as a huge compliment!”
The cottages are now on AirBnB, but it was a close call. A guest, who was supposed to be staying with his girlfriend, arrived with a troupe of university friends. They started hauling in table tennis tables and barrels of beer! Lorna wanted to remove the cottages from the site but Chris managed to talk her into staying and now they’re Super Hosts.
They were also nominated in the top three for an Eviivo Hidden Gems award and have received a Tripadvisor certificate of excellence.
There is a great deal to do in North Yorkshire.
“We’re very lucky to be part of such a wonderful community,” says Lorna. “It may also sound terribly cliché, but people really do look out for each other here.”
“North Yorkshire offers something that few places in Britain can,” she says. “We’ve got an amazing coastline and heather moors which run into forestry and magical valleys – all on our doorstep. Our ‘Dark skies’ status makes for incredible star-gazing for a special experience for anyone from the city. We’re spoilt to have such a wealth of natural beauty .”