Twenty Queen Street

Lake District, Northern England, United Kingdom Book from £99

Reviewed by Abi Dare
Endearingly eccentric old house with all the mod cons in pretty Ulverston (self-catering, sleeps 2-6), just 15 minutes from Lake Windermere
Twenty Queen Street has character by the bucket load. This blue 4-storey Georgian house, which stands in the pretty market town of Ulverston at the southern end of the Lake District, is filled with captivating quirks. Stairs creak, floorboards slope, and there's even a resident ghost - a cheeky chap who likes to entertain guests by turning on taps. But owner Lesley has married these period charms with plenty of modern additions. Step into the swish kitchen, with its steel counters and Gaggia coffee machine, and you know you’re in the 21st century; step back into the hall, where antlers hang from original fabric wallpaper, and you'll think you've taken a time machine back 200 years.

Upstairs, perspex Philippe Starck furniture sits by antique armoires in the 3 restful bedrooms (2 doubles and a single), and the sleek bathroom is design-mag worthy. There are flat-screen TVs and snazzy music systems in the lounge and library, even a sauna in the cellar. Cosy pubs and chic boutiques await outside the door, and the watery beauty of Lake Windermere and Coniston Water lies a short drive away. But with a roaring fire, sink-into sofas and a vast book and DVD collection to enjoy, you may find the lure of lazy days at the house too strong to resist.

Highs

  • Ulverston is a handy base for exploring the Lakes, just a 15-minute drive from Windermere and Coniston Water but without the crowds of Ambleside and Bowness
  • Ideal for families, with toys, games, baby equipment and plenty of room, but groups of friends or a couple seeking space will like it too
  • We loved the pampering touches - fresh flowers, chocolates, and robes in every room (including mini versions for children)
  • Plenty of restaurants and pubs within ambling distance if you don’t fancy cooking
  • The honesty bar comes with a cocktail kit and recipe book. Shake up a martini then kick back in the conservatory, drink in hand

Lows

  • At first glance the décor seems an odd mix, but the more time we spent at Twenty Queen Street the more we grew to like its eccentricities
  • There’s no parking at the house. You can stop outside to unload, but after that you'll have to find a space on the streets nearby (a permit is provided)
  • Some street noise in the master bedroom, the sitting room and the library
  • There’s only one bathroom between 3 bedrooms, though there’s a second shower in the cellar

Best time to go

The Lake District is beautiful at any time of year. Come in spring or summer if you want to splash around on the water, or in autumn for glorious colours. Winter, when we visited, is also stunning - mist rises from the lakes, and you have the perfect excuse to sprawl out in front of the fire.

Ulverston hosts several events during the year, including a walking festival (with marked trails to suit all abilities) in April and May, a music festival in June, a folk festival in July, a lantern procession in September, and a Christmas festival in December.

Our top tips

Drive or walk along the single-track road which follows the eastern shore of Coniston Water. It's a wonderfully scenic route through peaceful woodland, with lovely views across the lake around every turn.

Great for...

Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique House
  • 3
  • Self-catering (+ restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Sauna
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Bowls
  • Board games
Room: Master bedroom

Rooms

The house is arranged over 4 floors, with steep stairs twisting up through the middle. It’s an eclectic blend of old and new, and wherever we wandered we came across quirky touches - a Bass brewery mirror, old railway signage, lamps made from fairy lights curled into cubes.

The lounge is on the first floor. It’s a homely panelled room where assorted antique chairs mingle with sleek tables, metallic cushions and Chinese wall hangings. Across the hall lies a small double bedroom daubed in dove grey with flashes of red. Its giant wooden armoire provides plenty of storage, but the hangers inside rattle whenever anyone treads on the wobbly floorboards.

Up another level is the master bedroom, an all-white space with a low bed swathed in gauzy curtains, perspex Philippe Starck furniture, and a bank of mirrored wardrobes. The single room next door has colourful rugs, parrots on the wall, toys and teddy bears, and pint-sized robes for children. The top floor also contains the house’s only bathroom. Clad in shiny limestone, it has a tub, a walk-in rain shower, chrome fittings, and snazzy lighting which you can dim to suit your mood. You get plenty of towels, plus big bottles of Bath House smellies.

Back down on the ground floor is the kitchen-diner, an airy Farrow & Ball’ed conservatory, and a cosy library with a squashy sofa, a giant TV and a wall of books. A door leads to the cellar, where you'll find a sauna and gold floor cushions for post-sweat lounging. There's a second shower down here, plus a washing machine.

Beds throughout are deliciously comfy. Light sleepers should take the first-floor bedroom as it overlooks the garden, but we slept soundly in the master bedroom at the front despite occasional noise from the street.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Games
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Honesty bar
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Radio
  • Satellite tv
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

With its flagstone floors, steel counters and garden views, the kitchen was our favourite room in the house. It has an oven and hob, a dishwasher, a microwave, a Gaggia coffee machine, a kettle, a posh-looking toaster and a fridge; downstairs in the cellar is another, larger fridge with a freezer section. The glazed dresser is filled with pots, pans, crockery and cutlery, and there’s a Grundig radio to sing along to while you cook. In one corner stands a glass-topped table big enough for 6, with window seats decked in summery stripes.

You get a welcome pack with fruit, juice, milk, bread, tea and coffee, plus a little box of chocolates; i-escape guests also get a bottle of wine (Lesley will check in advance whether you’d prefer red or white). Cupboards are stocked with essentials such as dishwasher tabs, washing-up liquid and bin bags, and guests are welcome to pick herbs from the pots in the courtyard garden. You can pick up other provisions from the large Booths supermarket on the edge of town, and if you discover late at night that you’ve run out of T for your G, there’s a 24-hour Tesco round the corner from the house.

If you fancy a holiday from cooking, you can arrange for Lesley’s local housekeeper to deliver hearty hot meals to the house - lamb hotpot, Moroccan tagine, lasagne, that kind of thing. And there’s no shortage of options for eating out in Ulverston: you’ll find a detailed list of pub and restaurant recommendations waiting for you on the table. We enjoyed a tasty Ploughman’s lunch at Gillam’s, a local institution that sits somewhere between traditional tea room and New Age veggie café.

Features include:

  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Meal delivery service
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Toaster
  • Welcome hamper
Eating: Dining table
Activity:

Activities

  • Spend a morning wandering around Ulverston, with its independent shops and pretty market square. Sample real ale at the Ulverston Brewing Company, watch birds and butterflies along the banks of the canal, and take in the weird and wonderful collection of memorabilia at the Laurel & Hardy Museum (Stan Laurel was born in the town)

  • Take to the hills. The Sir John Barrow Monument, set behind the town with sweeping views across Morecambe Bay, is a gentle uphill stroll; for more of a challenge tackle the Old Man of Coniston (marked trails leave from Coniston village). The Cumbria Way, a 70-mile low-level path through the central Lakes, also starts in Ulverston

  • Take to the saddle. Horse-riding is available at the Moat Farm Equestrian Centre just down the coast, with beach rides along Morecambe Bay for riders of all abilities

  • Take to the water. Glorious Coniston Water and Lake Windermere are both a 15-minute drive from the house and offer kayaking, boat hire, sailing lessons, windsurfing and pleasure steamers

  • On the shore of Consiton Water stands Grade II-listed Brantwood, home of Victorian art critic John Ruskin. Other historic sites in the area include the Elizabethan Swarthmoor Hall and Conishead Priory, founded in 1160 and now home to one of the largest Buddhist communities in Europe

  • Drive over the fear-inducing Kirkstone Pass from Ambleside to Ullswater, stopping for a break at England’s third highest pub (the Kirkstone Pass Inn) along the way

  • Kids large and small will enjoy steam train rides on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, which runs from nearby Haverthwaite to the southern end of Lake Windermere

  • Back at the house, relieve aching post-hike limbs in the sauna, stick on a DVD, and chill out in front of the fire with a drink from the honesty bar

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Beer tasting
  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Steam trains
  • Windsurfing

Kids

Twenty Queen Street is ideal for self-catering family holidays. There are plenty of treats for children - toys, teddy bears, board games, DVDs, even miniature bathrobes - and babies are well catered-for with a cot, a highchair, and plastic cutlery and crockery. Older kids will love exploring Lake Windermere and Coniston Water (the inspiration for classic children’s novel Swallows and Amazons), and they’ll be intrigued by tales of the resident spook - we didn’t meet him during our stay, but we’re assured he’s perfectly friendly, if a little mischievous.

The flagstone floors and steep stairs mean the house is less suited to wandering toddlers, but a stair gate is available on request.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The single room on the top floor is decked out in vibrant colours, with parrots on the wall, a giant bean bag, and baskets of toys. It's also right next to the bathroom. A rollaway bed and a baby cot are available and can be added to any of the rooms at no extra cost.

Babysitting:

Babysitting can be arranged on request.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cot
  • Highchair
  • Plastic crockery and cutlery
  • Toys and teddy bears
  • Stair gate

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

The kitchen has everything you need for whipping up family meals, with an oven, a microwave, a fridge, a toaster and a dining table for 6. There's a large supermarket on the edge of town, plus a 24-hour Tesco round the corner for emergency provisions.

Kids Activities on site:

  • DVDs
  • Books
  • Board games
  • Toys

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Steamers on Coniston Water and Lake Windermere
  • The South Lakes Wild Animal Park
  • The Lakeside Aquarium in Newby Bridge
  • Go-Ape adventure in Grizedale Forest
  • Steam train rides on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway
  • Beatrix Potter's home in Near Sawrey, the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead, and the World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness
  • The Lakeland Motor Museum at Backbarrow, near Lake Windermere

Families Should Know:

The house has several flights of steep stairs, so parents should keep an eye on little ones (though a stair gate can be provided on request). There's a first aid kit in the bathroom.

Distances:

  • Supermarket: 2 minutes
  • Doctor: 5 minutes
  • Hospital: 25 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
10/
Service
10/
Value
9/
Overall

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Rates for Twenty Queen Street