“ A 2 or 3 room B&B in the carriage house of a stately home „
The Lake House is closed to business. It is no longer a Bed and Breakfast.
~Landladies and Loo Roll Covers~
If your image of the British B&B is one of too much chintz, a smell of stale cabbage and a fussy landlady with a penchant for crocheted toilet roll covers then prepare to be surprised by this property. The Lake House B&B in Brixworth is the type of place that should come with a serious warning for potential guests. "Beware of property envy; if you stay here for a few days it's very likely that your home will just feel strangely inadequate when you get back again". The Lake House is more like an exclusive country retreat than a typical B&B. Whenever colleagues need to stay in the area, I book them in at the Lake House - it's just down the road from where I live and I know that they will always have a fantastic welcome and an excellent stay.
~Brixworth - surprisingly lively~
Brixworth is one of the larger villages that lie to the north of Northampton and to the south of Market Harborough. There is no shortage of gorgeous villages in this area but unlike most, Brixworth actually has 'stuff' to do and things to see. Pretty chocolate box villages are all well and good but don't forget when planning a visit that it's nice to be able to get something to eat or drink without having to get in your car and drive elsewhere. Brixworth has three pubs a strange restaurant, an excellent chip shop and good home delivery services for both Chinese and Indian food. I recommend the food at the George as excellent, at the Coach and Horses as 'standard' and I wouldn't be inclined to risk it at the Red Lion. If you want spit and sawdust try the Red Lion, if you want beams and woodchip wallpaper, the Coach and horses, and if you want 'gastro pub', then the George is the best bet. There's a good sized Co-op, a greengrocer/fishmonger, a hardward store, a post office and a pharmacy. You can get your hair cut, go to the library, and take countless walks around the village. Town dwellers will now be harumphing and thinking 'So what?' but on the scale of village life and facilities, this is a lively place to be. The biggest attraction is the church (which Dooyoo have used to illustrate the listing which is a shame since the B&B is gorgeous) which dates back to Saxon times and is quite remarkable but often closed and outdoor types can take advantage of the cycling trail that runs past the village and the reservoir nearby at Pitsford Water. But enough of all that - I'm not auditioning for the role of Public Relations advisor for my village - back to the Lake House and what it has to offer.
~The Lake House - a Special Place~
Rosemary Tuckley and her husband David are quite simply the loveliest people to spend some time with. With Lake House, they open their beautiful home to the public and offer a host of fantastic personal touches that will remain in your memory long after your visit. With only two or three rooms (two of the rooms are linked as a sort of family suite), they aren't so swamped with guests as to lose site of what great hospitality means. Their B&B has a four star rating and offers great value for money as well as a unique chance to stay somewhere really special. Be aware that they have a dog or two and the black lab is particularly friendly. If you don't like dogs, better tell the Tuckley's before you arrive. If you do like dogs, prepare to be slobbered on.
Your first challenge is to find the Lake House as it's located on a private estate right in the centre of the village. The best way to find it is to turn off opposite the Coach and Horses pub along a private driveway. You'll pass a number of more modern houses and bungalows that are built within the walls of what was once a very grand village estate for Brixworth Hall, which is sadly no longer standing. The Lake House was originally built as the stables for the hall and it stands in almost 5 acres of gardens, almost half of which is made up by the fabulous lake that gives the place its name. When you see the size of what were the stables, you can only wonder at what the main house must have been like.
I didn't think I was particularly interested in ducks and other waterbirds until Rosemary told me all about hers, showed me the hatchery for the eggs and walked me round her fish tanks as well. I have no idea how she finds time to run a B&B with all the gardening, duck breeding and caring for the menagerie. A friend of mine who stayed at the Lake House a couple of years ago was so charmed by the ducks that she got up early just to spend more time with them before she had to leave in the morning. Sadly after foxes nabbed too many of her birds, Rosemary has now stopped actively breeding ducks and other waterbirds but there are still plenty that have gone 'rogue' and still live in the area. I know this for a fact after my cat came home one day with a duckling which can only have come from the Lake House lake. A lot of embarrassed apologising from me was met by a reassurance that it must have been one of the wild ones. My cat Baloo definitely thinks the Lake House is a fantastic place to play - and I'm inclined to agree with him (though I wish he'd come home more often).
The Lake House bedrooms are genuinely lovely. The double room comes with a small bathroom with a shower. With sloping ceilings and lots of old world touches it's really very charming and if you find yourself with time to spare, there are always lots of books and magazines to read and lots of videos to watch on your television. The double room has a small sitting area on the landing where you can get water or make some coffee. The family suite has a large double room linked to a through room with a couple of single beds and the suite shares a large bathroom with a bath. All the usual treats are there - coffee and tea making, videos and books and each room usually has a stash of chocolates tucked away for when you really need something sweet.
Breakfast at the Lake House is a great treat although if you need to leave too early, you might be restricted to a cold breakfast or Rosemary might bring it up to your room on a tray. If I have guests staying at the Lake House, I usually book to go and join them for breakfast because it's always so good. The dining room is truly spectacular - a massive high-ceilinged room with a highly polished dining table and windows looking out onto the lake. There's plenty of space for guests to sit around on the sofas and make themselves at home - and I've got to say that I always do feel really very much 'at home' at the Lake House even though I'm not actually staying there. I've been to B&Bs where visitors are not at all welcome but at Lake House, the guests of the guests are treated really well. In the warmer months, you can have your breakfast in the conservatory with an even better view of the lake and can admire Rosemary's collection of orchids.
I have never actually spent a night at the Lake House - I don't need to because I live so nearby - but I have spent a lot of time there and I really feel so positive about this place. I know every inch of the rooms and I've often had breakfast there when colleagues needed somewhere to stay and everyone absolutely loved staying with Rosemary. Every time I took someone there, we'd spend ages talking about how the business was doing, checking out the ducks, talking about life, the universe and anything that took our fancy. I never felt - as I have at some other B&Bs - that guests are just a way to make money. I actively looked forward to being able to introduce people to the Lake House because it always reflected on my great taste in B&Bs and I loved seeing the amazed looks of guests - especially those from other countries - when they realised they were effectively staying in a kind of old mansion. I'm happy to have any excuse to go and visit the Lake House because I always feel so welcome there and all my colleagues have returned to their countries singing the praises of this unique and very special place.
A couple of points to be aware of - the mobile phone signal is a bit weak on some networks which can be tricky but to be honest, you'll get that throughout the village. Also, please bring cash if you can although UK residents can pay by cheque with an appropriate guarantee card. No credit cards are accepted.
Lake House Bed and Breakfast
Brixworth Hall Park
Telephone: 01604 880280
The Kingfisher suite costs £65 per night for two people, and £55 for single occupancy. The larger Mallard Suite is £80 per night for 2 people or £65 for single occupancy. Breakfast is always included.