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“Not what it used to be....” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa

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Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   23 Church Street, Bowness-on-Windermere LA23 3DF, England   |  
Hotel amenities
Durham, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Not what it used to be....”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2010

We've stayed here each year for the past 3 years, and booked up this year to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, it no longer seems to be the quiet little hotel that it used to be. The hotel is now taking in a lot more big coach groups than it used to, with the result that service seems to be suffering. It can be almost impossible to make your way through the tiny Reception at times, with suitcases lined up in the doorways. Food isn't what it used to be either - the restaurant seems to have been 'rebranded' (like other Macdonald hotels' restaurants) - it's no longer possible to eat there every night as the menu doesn't change. Our first meal was fine, but the second one, on the last night, was awful. So salty that I couldn't eat it. Poor service as well - coincidence that they were dealing with a big coach group that night? Credit to the hotel that they didn't charge us for the food that night - but still a meal spoiled. The Macdonald chain have also rebranded their loyalty programme but failed to contact me about this and I only found out on check-in - to be told by one staff member that it had all been stopped and I should contact the club hotline; to be told by another that I could still accrue points and he would chase this up for me. We had hoped to use our points that visit for treats but the confusion means this wasn't possible. It doesn't seem that the hotel (chain?) is interested in loyal customers anyway. Can't ignore the fact that the rooms are comfortable, the location is absolutely excellent (especially with a lakeside view) - just don't eat there as it's nothing special any more.

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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1,253 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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English first
Glasgow
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 6, 2010

The Hotel is in a great location with a beautiful lounge. However the rooms have a significant ventilation problem - the Hotel is south facing and rooms get very hot, there is no air conditioning and windows are fitted with a device that only allows them to be opened around 3 inches (for safety!). Our room was baking hot, we could not sleep and we left early. The check in 4.00pm, we arrived at 2.00pm (not knowing this) and despite being told that our room would be ready soon (4 times) we had to wait for over 2 hours in the lounge for our room and eventually got in to the room at 4.15pm. The room we were given on arrival was changed when we arrived (i think because we had a child) and the room we were given was furnished with old beaten up furnishings, stained linen and was shabby (nothing like the photos/website). I don't think the Hotel wants families - children are not allowed in the pool, other than for 2 hours between 12 and 2.00pm. Moreover Customer Service is poor and there is a couldn't care less attitude - we asked several times to speak with the manager and we're still waiting. Fortunately there are so many lovely hotels in the lake district, as we certainly won't go back to this one again.

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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Yorkshire Lass
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2010

We were there the weekend before the Bank Holiday so - obviously - the weather was superb. At one point it was about 27 degrees centigrade out on the hotel terrace. The garden goes down to the Lake; where you can berth you gin palace and come ashore for cocktails!
Our two night break was excellent value - there was an offer on so we got 30% off the DB&B rate and then a further £20 in vouchers to spend on our stay. We paid slightly more to upgrade to a larger room with a Lake view. This well worth doing. It's a busy Lake and there's always something interesting to watch. And you get bathrobes! The food and the service are superb and the restaurant has a super view staight down to the Lake. Beer and lager prices are very slightly more than neighbouring pubs - but they haven't got the terrace, the Lake view and the waiter service.
The swimming pool is wonderful - a decent size for swimming lengths. And everything in the wet area is very clean and tidy. It's a very good place for family occasions.

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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London, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 13, 2010

This hotel had a fabulous location on the edge of Lake Windermere - the staff and service was excellent - the cleanliness was sparkling - the decor was in good shape .... but oh so old fashioned, dull! dark! and BROWN. (patterned carpets too) We were expecting, having visited the website, something young, trendy and sexy - and it was not that.
The croissants and other pastries at breakfast were dry - obviously not a northern speciality.
One of the biggest shocks was that in a hotel where we were paying more than £200 per night, the complimentary shortbread in the room was made with margarine.....
The swimming pool was nothing like it looked on the website - in reality it has plain walls and aluminium windows. Having said that the sauna, steam room were excellent.
When paying the bill there was a £2 surcharge for using a credit card - come on Macdonald guys I am sure you are not that despereate for cash!
Lastly, a warning to other young people thinking of going to this hotel - the clientel are mainly retired people.

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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warwickshire
Top Contributor
124 reviews 124 reviews
33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 59 cities Reviews in 59 cities
77 helpful votes 77 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 12, 2010

Just as we expected - first class service , excellent Lake View room . All as it should be in all respects . No negative comments to report at all.

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Coventry, UK
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 18, 2010

My wife and I stayed here for 3 nights during our honeymoon in the lakes and had an absolutely fantastic time.

Check-in staff were friendly and efficient, parking outside the hotel is a bit of a nightmare when unloading luggage but the main car park is only 2 mintues away and is a real bonus for such a central location.

Our lake view room was large, clean and the views were stunning as you'd expect. The bathroom was large and modern, the shower was always warm and powerful. All the usual amenities were available, fridge, trouser press, iron, hairdryer, tea/coffee, biscuits. The fresh mineral water in the room each day was a bonus.

The communal areas are spotless and classy. An afternoon drink on the terrace or in the lounge overlooking the lake is a perfect way to relax.

We ate in the hotel restaurant on the first evening, service was excellent and the food was very good if not quite exceptional. There are plenty of other options in and around Bowness that offer better value for money.

The inclusive continental breakfast is OK but the cooked breakfast is excellent (best black pudding I've ever tasted!), just a shame about the extra charge for anything on top of the continental option. Service during breakfast can be a little chaotic but the buffet was always well stocked and tea / toast arrived quickly.

The swimming pool and spa are excellent and a real luxury after a days walking in the hills, slight shame about the lack of a jacuzzi.

Given the location and level of luxury and service on offer this hotel is superb and great value, highly recommended!

  • Stayed April 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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London, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
80 reviews 80 reviews
46 hotel reviews
Reviews in 50 cities Reviews in 50 cities
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 11, 2010

Beautiful Georgian hotel with rather odd 1960s looking extension. Quite an old fashioned Miss Marple feel but that is definitely part of its charm. Reception and catering staff very friendly. Lovely spa with decent sized pool. Many of the rooms, and the restaurant, have the lake as a spectacular backdrop. Expensive but not really a surprise. Dinner was good quality but small portions - if you had been hiking all day, would not suffice.

I agree with previous reviewers that a little more attention to detail could move this hotel from "nice" to "amazing". Our room needed a little TLC - a little mould on the sink, watermark on the chest of drawers, very old rather useless hairdryer, main light bulb didn't work. Breakfast was rather chaotic and the staff were rather slow to top up the buffet and to get people seated. We stayed on a deal but had we paid full price for the hotel and restaurant, I would have expected a little more.

Stayed April 2010, traveled as a couple
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Additional Information about Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa

Address: 23 Church Street, Bowness-on-Windermere LA23 3DF, England
Location: United Kingdom > England > Cumbria > Lake District > Bowness-on-Windermere
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#8 Luxury Hotel in Bowness-on-Windermere
#9 Family Hotel in Bowness-on-Windermere
#9 Romantic Hotel in Bowness-on-Windermere
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 106
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Standing on the shore of Lake Windermere, the historic Macdonald Old England Hotel and Spa is an ideal base for exploring the Lake District. The award-winning Restaurant offers unrivaled views over mature lawns to the lake. Four flexible business suites make the Old England a natural favorite as your next meeting or conference venue, while achieving a work-life balance is effortless at our luxury hotel spa. Inquire about exclusive use for weddings and conferences. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hotel Macdonald Old England
Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa Bowness-On-Windermere, Lake District

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