If you drive too fast, you’ll miss it. Along the coastal route from Newcastle to Edinburgh, just before North Berwick and high above the shore, you’ll find Canty Bay House. A hidden B&B gem on a unique location just opposite the whitish Bass Rock formation in the sea.
We love Scotland (golfers as we are) and try to make a road trip every year before summer tourism starts. It’s a recurring challenge to select links courses and accommodation along the route. First we decide which courses to play and start planning the route from there. Goal is to mix Edwardian house hotels, luxury B&B’s with small luxury hotels. In short: the more lush British gardens and breathtaking sea views, the merrier.
Canty Bay House, a room with a view
This cliff top house is the home of Jon and Diana and dog Delsey. A friendly and relaxed couple with a large house overlooking Canty Bay. The guest wing has three bedrooms on the first floor.
We stayed in Bass Rock Room, not too big – some would say cosy – but with a panoramic window that makes you immediately forget about the room size. The views are stunning and constantly changing depending on the weather. We were lucky to witness deep coloured sunsets, blue sunny skies and on one morning – very early, around 4.45 am – an unbelievable orange sunrise. Visible from the (large and very comfy) double bed styled with a Scottish plaid cover and matching pillows. The bathroom has a large walk-in shower with high pressure water – rain shower ànd handheld shower, thank you – and large bottles of luxury shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and liquid soap by Island Duck. Paraben and mineral oil free.
The access to this part of the house is exclusive to guests, with a large lobby, pool room and breakfast room on the ground floor.
Breakfast at Canty Bay House
The other B is for breakfast. Served between 08.30and 09.30 on the ground floor. Again with sea view, during our stay the doors to the garden were open. The day before, a sheet for breakfast choices is provided to give Jon and Diana an idea of your preferences. I asked for soy yoghurt and camomile tea, all lined up the next morning.
Along fresh fruit, cereals, nuts and a healthy muesli. Enough for me to start the day but if you want to do as the Scottish do, order egss to your liking and a choice of warm side dishes. Other guests are sitting down at the same kitchen table which makes it a kind of family breakfast. In our case fellow golfers, the other favorite sport of golfers is talk about golf…
A walk to the (silent) beach
In front of the house, open a tiny gate and wonder down the small road to the lower, adjacent bay. This place is stunningly peaceful with breathtaking views. There’s a wooden bench along the sea, just sitting there and watch the birds fly over beats a yoga meditation class. It’s a private beach but guests of Canty Bay House are welcome to wander around and enjoy the spot.
Back up in the garden next to the house you’ll find seats and a secluded wooden table and bench with binoculars hidden in the side cupboard. This was my outside office, as luxury as luxury comes. In fact, this post is written at this particular spot.
In front you’ll see a huge white rock, Bass Rock. Home to over 150,000 white gannets at the peak of the season. The gannets spend most of the year on the Bass, until the end of October when they set out on their long journey south, with many going as far as the west coast of Africa. Take the binoculars and watch the birds fly around.
Where to eat in North Berwick
Since a B&B isn’t about lunch or dinner, one has to find an alternative. We’ve found a lovely little Italian place, Osteria, for dinner. In fact, we liked it so much, we ate there two nights in a row. Host Angelo traded his busy Edinburgh restaurant for a new venture in the small town of North Berwick. Popular from the start in 2006, reservation is recommended. If the phone is answered with a warm welcome and thick Italian accent, it is very likely that’s Angelo.
An ‘Osteria’ in Italy was originally a family run place serving simple food and wine. Same here where italian specialities such as pasta, grilled meat and fish are produced with the use of fresh local Scottish products. In 2008 his daughter Daniela, after gaining experience working alongside top chefs, took over the kitchen and became head chef. It’s a family affair.
With father and daughter working together, Osteria began picking up many awards such as ‘Best Rural Chef’, ‘Best Customer Service’ and winning ‘Best Italian Restaurant in Scotland’ several times. A
Also in the same street – High Street – is JP Deli. Great place for lunch, take-away and organic goodies.
After three nights at Canty Bay it’s time to move on to the next destination, after one last look at the incredible views. I now understand the Scottish phrase Haste ye back!