“Endearingly eccentric old house with all the mod cons in pretty Ulverston (self-catering, sleeps 2-6), just 15 minutes from Lake Windermere”
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.
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.
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.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)
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 can be arranged on request.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
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.
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.