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Reviewed January 21, 2010

We booked a two day break in the Macdonald Leeming House Hotel on Ullswater but were informed as we went to check in that the hotel was closed due to a gas leak. The manager assured us he had tried to contact us but we had heard nothing. After a 150 mile drive this wasnt the news we were looking to receive. We were informed that we had been booked into the Old England at Windermere instead (20 miles away) and that all our upgrades would be delivered there. Unfortunately the pass between Ullswater and Windermere was closed so the 20 mile journey became a 40 mile journey via Keswick !!!! We arrived over an hour and half later at The Old England and were greeted by name, our bags immediately collected and delivered to an upgraded executive room (good touch of PR to a pair of somewhat disgruntled guests.) The room was superb, spacious and had fantastic views overlooking the lake. A bottle of Champagne was in the room and a box of chocolates. We were starting to feel that maybe we had had a stroke of good luck with being moved from the isolated Leeming House to The Old England in picturesque Bowness. The 'village' is interesting and well kept (manly geared at rambler types but with so many good pubs and restaurants that there was something for everybody including a Beatrix Potter museum).
We had a dinner as part of our package and the food was top notch and well presented, if a bit pricey but for quality who cares,an delivered in a (very) leisurely manner by polite if somewhat 'bemused at times' staff. Be prepared to wait a little between courses but the wait is worth it. Every course was excellent .....excellent chef.
The next day the hotel gave us a complimentary pair of tickets on the ferry boat trip to Ambleside. We were told it was a ten minute stroll from the jetty to Ambleside. Well it may be for fit ramblers but at about 1.5 miles it took us a little longer although it is an easy walk. Ambleside is worth visiting if a little 'touristy' and has lots of good coffee shops and small different clothes and art shops.
On arriving back at the hotel in the afternoon we were given a complimentary cream tea voucher to compensate for our disturbance. The hotel staff really could not have been more helpful and were eternally cheerful.
On our second evening we ate out at Jacksons Bistro (five minutes from the hotel) and the food was again absolutely excellent. There are so many good looking restaurants that you have a bewildering choice (at this time of year anyway). For a final drink we tried the Hole Int Wall pub which was very good with a roaring fire and hand pumped real ale.
We didnt sample the swimming pool or spa (we had not expected one so were no geared up for it) but the guests we spoke to who had used them were delighted with the facilities.
All in all we had a wonderful time and would recommend the hotel. I read in an earlier report that one guest was disappointed with the Customer Service. Well the hotel have certainly taken notice as our service could not have been better.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank YorkiePontefract
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 16, 2010

My girlfriend and I stayed at this hotel during January having booked a deal through Travelzoo where the price included an evening meal, continental buffet breakfast, and an afternoon cream tea. We stayed for two nights, and we were really impressed with the hotel, especially the staff. Unfortunately my girlfriend wasn't feeling too well before we went for the evening meal on the first night so ended up staying in the room ... the staff were really nice and couldn't do enough to help. This was the same for breakfast the following morning. The rooms were very nice, unfortunately our room didn't get a good lake view as it was obstructed by the lift shaft, but it was still very nice. The bathrooms were well equiped and the shower and bath had plenty of hot water. Housekeeping staff were also excellent, again bending over backward to help due to my girlfriend being ill. As with the majority of hotels the drinks from the bar, and room service is rather expensive, with a £5 per person 'tray charge' on top of the already expensive prices...so we didn't bother. Unfortunately we didn't get chance to experience the Spa...but it looked really nice.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank Chorlton_Owl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 13, 2010

My wife, new-born son and I stayed for a two night break in the hotel in early-mid December. My wife had only visited Ambleside before so we decided to visit Bowness, relax in the hotel spa, use the gym and swimming pool and enjoy some fine dining to relax a little following the birth.

As a corporate hotel traveller, I travel globally on a regular basis and mostly stay in Hyatt's, Marriott's or Raddison's. You know the quality you will get with these hotels, that service will always be excellent and that the facilties will rarely disappoint. These hotels, excellent that they are, can prove a little monotonous however and often lack the personal touch. We were therefore looking forward to experiencing "the personal touch" at the Macdonald Old England, a taste of "Old England", and good old fashioned, top notch, British customer service.

I am sad to say that we didn't find it here. The hotel has all the ingredients to be a top 4* / mid range 5* hotel, but it doesn't quite deliver the way you expect it to.

On arrival, a notice read on the reception desk "Pool Closed". A bitter disappointment straight away. The hotel has (or should have) to inform paying guests that the pool is closed prior to their booking; especially when many of the guests choose the hotel primarily to take a relaxing dip in the evening.

The check in process was slow. One person on reception, three sperate reservations to process. The room we were allocated (spacious though it was) overlooked a building site. I asked to be moved, and was allocated a smaller room. Still unhappy I asked to be put in a lake view room. I knew the hotel was near to empty and that this wouldn't be a problem. But then I was quoted a signficant amount of extra money per night. This shows a lack of personal touch. Had the hotel taken the initiative it would have moved us immediately, free of charge....."the personal touch". As it happened it didn't and within just 20 mins of arriving at the hotel we went from happy and looking foward to our trip to feeling miserable and unhappy with the customer service.

The gym closesd at 21:45 p.m. which is early I feel; and when I turned up at 21:30 p.m. to use the Sauna / Steam room for 30 mins before dinner, I was duly informed that they are turned off at 21:30 p.m. If the Lesiure centre is open until 22:00 p.m. the facilties should be in use unti then. There was also no Jacuzzi. A small point, but we certainly noticed it, as did other guests.

I would say this was the icing on the cake of a terrible first day at the hotel, but the food in the restaurant in the evening was exceptional. My compliments to the chef. A minor point, but I should warn future guests that it is Haute Cuisine. Excellent quality, extremely well presented (and so it should be at £30 a head excluding drinks), but tiny portions. I only mention it because many of the fellow diners who we spoke to, who although enjoyed dinner, still felt hungry afterwards; particularly after a days hiking around the lakes. The breakfast in the morning is also continenatal and disappointing. Apparently the hotel warns guests of this in advance (fair enough); but for the prices guests pay, and considering this is a traditional English Hotel in the most conventional sense, one would expect a cooked breakfast to be included in the price.

We retreated the bar and lounge for a night cap. I expect to pay premium prices for drinks in hotels, so no complaints here; but in return I expect a superior service and relaxing atmosphere to accompany. The bar was cold, as was the lounge (too cold considering the temprature was zero outside), and there was no log fire which was expected. We sat in our outside jackets, had a chat with fellow guests but returned to the room early it simply didn't feel cosy enough.

The lounge itself had no pianist, or at the very least any backgound music (jazz or clasical would have sufficed to improve the atmosphere), and surprisingly considering the time of year there was no christmas decorations. The staff attending were either Italian or Polish and were very polite and engaging, but I was surprised to see with unemployment so high in this country that there weren't more British staff.

Despite all this, the hotel has many redeeming features. Excellent location & views, excellent food, large rooms, a spa & leaisure centre, good old fashioned afternoon cream tea and communal areas to the envy of many competing hotels. With this in mind, the hotel should work and work well. Sadly it didn't quite work for us. We left disppointed, not necessarily unhappy with our stay but more with the hotels management.

To the management: You have a potential gem on your hands, and you can really do something very special with this hotel, but ou've got to step up to the plate and deliver. Listen to your customers and you can't go far wrong!

Stayed: December 2009, traveled as a couple
1  Thank jajamaha
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 11, 2010

We have recently returned from a trip to this hotel as part of a promotional deal that they were offering. We have never been to the Lakes before and what better way to spend our holiday than at the Old England Hotel. Our room was on the ground floor and overlooked the lake which was lovely, especially as there was snow all over the mountains.

The room was lovely, very clean and we had chocolates in our room when we checked in which was a lovely touch.

We used the swimming pool which was nice, they also have a sauna, steam room and an ice room (I didn't use this one!). The pool provide you with towels which is good, so you don't need to worry about taking the ones from your room.

We ate lunch and dinner at the restaurant and the food was lovely and good value for money. The one thing I would say is that the price of Magners is quite expensive, at £6 a bottle.

Overall we had a really great break, there's lots to do, the hotel is luxurious and in a great position and the staff are all really friendly and could not have made us feel more welcome.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank CCC1000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 10, 2010

Just returned for a night at the old England Hotel. Upon arrival we were upgraded to a luxury room with a view of windermere. The lady on reception was very helpful and friendly. We had booked a couples spa afternoon which was luxury.(great massage and then facials)....If there was anything to grumble about it was the lack of relaxing benches around the pool after the spa treatement.....but thats being picki!!!!

We had the continental breakfast which was very nice..

Overall a lovely stay and we shall probably make it an annual visit every january with friends in the future..

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank Pedroseal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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