My wife and I spent three days and nights from July 23 through 26, 2011, at Annesdale House. They were the three best days of our three-week vacation in the UK and Ireland. We are going to go back to Windermere just so that we are able to spend some more time in this beautiful property.
There are two luxury suites on the ground floor of this gorgeous, lovingly restored house made of local stone, and they are probably bigger than any European five-star hotel. The suites are called Applethwaite and Elleray -- we had the Elleray. We were given a tour of the property before the guests in the other suite came in, and we saw that the Elleray had the bigger bathroom, but the Applethwaite has an extra living area, which I should think would be nice to lounge in if the weather isn’t too good and you can’t sit out.
The suites have every convenience that you can imagine – much more than the standard B&B anywhere would provide. The bed is huge and very comfortable, there are sofas and couches, a writing table and chair, a mini fridge, TV, DVD player, music system, tea/coffee maker and all basic furniture in the room. The room is beautifully done up, with a gorgeous bedspread, lovely paintings and fresh flowers in the vase.
Both the room and bathroom have high-end lights and fittings, underfloor heating, and heated towel rods. We went in July, but I should think that the difference that bathroom makes would be the most obvious in colder weather.
The house is surrounded by an enchanting garden, laid out on three levels on the gentle hill slope. The centrepiece is a maple tree with magic red leaves, and another, much larger and older tree at the far end. There are creepers and flowering plants and herbs of many varieties, planted in the ground and in pots everywhere. There’s a beautiful stone fountain, and some lovely stone statues, which give the garden a really regal, old-world feel.
The Elleray has the larger of the two sitouts, but there is no physical barrier preventing you from sprawling over to the other sitout, so long as no one minds. There are wrought iron chairs and garden umbrellas for you to sit under with a beer or glass of wine, and simply gaze out at the greenery in front. We were extremely lucky to have had three straight days of beautiful sunshine, and if any reader of this review gets equally lucky, I can assure them that the experience is heavenly.
The house is off the main road, but set back and above from street level, and curtained by thick foliage, so there is virtually no traffic noise. It is completely private, no one can see you sitting in the garden, and you have nothing in your field of vision that is disturbing or intrusive. During the day, when the owners are out on their day jobs, you literally have a lovely, cut-off castle with a fairytale garden entirely of your own to enjoy.
The location of Annesdale House is a massive advantage, we thought. It is perhaps 600 metres from the railway station, so it was ideal for us, who came to Windermere by train. If you come by car, as local UK and some continental tourists might, you park in the large parking space that the property offers, and walk around the town. There is an impressive supermarket at the station which, along with a shopping mall next door, offers you everything that you might need. There are four or five cash machines around, the tourist information centre is next to the station and, should anyone want to go on a bus trip around the Lakes, a minibus tour operator called Mountain Goat has its offices right there. A terrific value-for-money all-day open-top bus leaves from the station every 20 minutes or so, and is ideal for visiting Grasmere, where Wordsworth lived and is buried, and other Lake district towns like Ambleside or Kendal.
About 4 km down the road from the station/tourist centre/Annesdale House is the village of Bowness, which is the nearest point on Lake Windermere. There is a cluster of about 25-30 restaurants of all kinds and budgets about 500 metres down this road, where all those who stay at Annesdale House might want to eat. We had six meals there in four different restaurants, and each one was delicious and very classy. As you get closer to Bowness though, the road gets packed cheek by jowl with B&Bs and shops. On sunny days, this area gets so crowded that you can hardly walk; there are traffic jams and people literally fall over you, and the honking cars can make you quite ill. Living here can’t be pleasant, we thought, and though everyone must – and does — visit Bowness, it is probably a much better idea to keep the actual staying to Windermere.
On the question of food, Annesdale House serves a very substantial, delicious and nutritious breakfast of eggs, sausages, bacon, fruit, yogurt, mushrooms, etc. along with several kinds of toast, jams, tea and coffee. You can have it out in the garden, or upstairs in the owners’ beautifully done up dining room. Roger, the host, is a professional chef, and the quality of the cooking is exceptional. Alena, his wife, doesn’t cook for a living, but should she decide to do so some day, I would imagine she would give Roger a serious run for his money.
But at the end of it all, the greatest strength of Annesdale House really is its owners, the wonderful, hospitable, charming Alena and Roger Pergl-Wilson.
We were surprised and delighted when they said they would pick us up from the railway station when we arrived. We thought, gratefully, that they were going out of the way to make us feel comfortable because we had happened to tell them that we had never been to the Lake District before and knew nothing about Windermere -- but we were amazed to learn that they do it as a matter of habit, for every one of their guests.
Roger was waiting for us at the station, and picked our bags up and hauled them to his car like they were his own. Alena was not in town that day, but she had made some cake for us to have with our tea once we arrived. The next day, she came down to chat with us, and we ended up spending the whole morning telling her about ourselves and listening to the fascinating story of her own life and that of their businesses in Windermere.
That afternoon, she brought down a bottle of wine and lots of canapés for us, Roger joined us after he returned from work, and the wonderful conversation continued.
And the evening before we were leaving, Alena decided to give us a tour of the areas of the Lake District that we hadn’t had the chance to see, and drove us around the gorgeous hills and breathtaking lakes for a good two hours, describing the area to us, explaining the peculiarities of the landscape, the vegetation and the weather.
The day we were leaving, she came to the station to drop us, and stood there waving till the doors shut and the train actually started moving. We had never seen hotel/B&B owners like Alena and Roger, and if we hadn’t met them, we wouldn’t have known such people existed. The last hug that we gave her was the one for real friends whom we might have known for years and years, not just someone in whose B&B we had spent three days.
May God bless you, Alena and Roger, we can’t thank you enough for the time we had at your home, and we are grateful and honoured to have made your acquaintance. Thank you for your hospitality, your thoughtfulness, and those wonderful, priceless conversations. All that you do for your guests, you really don’t need to do; but you do it so naturally and unselfconsciously, that you probably don’t even realise how much extra you are offering to them.
This is not your regular B&B/hotel. There are only two suites, so book as soon as you decide on...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC