“ Address: Overwater Hall / Ireby / Cumbria / CA7 1HH / England / Telephone: 017687 76566 „
On my birthday last year I wrote a review for Ciao on 'The Pheasant' near Keswick as hubby and I had spent the night before there to celebrate my birthday and our 3rd anniversary (we got married on my birthday to save hubby having to remember 2 occasions). Anyway, in that review I stated "We have decided that it will become a bit of a tradition, and will almost certainly go next year for our anniversary."
Anyway, when it got to the start of the year and I got out my diary to make plans (I have such a busy schedule you see, hence the amount of time spent review writing/reading) I decided that I fancied somewhere different. I checked to find a place which hadn't already been reviewed and came across "The Overwater Hotel", plus a fellow Northern Rail commuter (see review) had recommended it once.
I booked the hotel online, and was emailed by the manager. The cost was going to be £230 which included dinner bed and breakfast. They took a £50 deposit from my Mastercard at the time of booking.
More about the hotel can be found at www.overwaterhall.co.uk
What follows is my personal experience of the hotel.
---Arrival at the Hotel ---
We didn't have any problems finding the hotel as we used our Sat Nav and typed in the postcode (CA7 1HH). I think that if it wasn't for that we might have had a few problems as there are some funny junctions. Although it is described as near Keswick, it is actually nearer to Ireby.
We arrived at 5:30pm and on first impressions, the building is fairly grand, and the sort of place I see us having as our next house (in my dreams). We entered the hotel and were greeted immediately by the manager who knew my name. I wondered if he'd been stood by the entrance waiting for my arrival all day (it is such an honour to meet me you see), but hubby reckoned that we were probably just the only people due to check in - most people are there for more than a one night stay you see.
We were shown upstairs to our room which was right along several corridors, as far away from the other (more respectable) guests as possible.
There are eleven bedrooms in total, and more about them can be found at the website.
---The Room ---
I was pretty impressed with the room. As we entered, the bedroom part was on the left hand side, and consisted of a bed, tea/coffee making facilities, a desk, and three chairs.
Straight ahead there was a small lobby-type room with a couple of cupboards, leading to the bathroom on the right hand side.
The bathroom consisted of a bath, toilet, sink and a separate shower which was a really good size.
The room had a great view of the mountains, as I had chosen a room which cost £20 more due to it having a nice view.
We dumped our bags and made our way down to the bar which we had been told was open.
---The Bar ---
It turned out that the manager doubled up as the barman. We ordered a nice bottle of Rose wine from a pretty good wine list and went to sit outside to catch any sun we could find.
The Overwater Hotel has lovely grounds, and we sat ourselves down on some garden chairs and awaited our wine. There were a load of sheep making an obscene amount of noise and I chose to join in as I do love sheepies.
The peace (aside from the sheep) and lack of noise of traffic was so lovely. Hubby and I don't have a garden, so it is really nice to get outside into the fresh air. There were lots of birds singing away, and apparently there are a lot of red squirrels there (grey squirrels are banned from Cumbria you see), and I was a bit disappointed not to see one. After more than 3 years in Cumbria I have still only seen a dead red squirrel....however I have to say I didn't see my first shooting star until I was 15, so it might be because I'm not particularly observant.
Having finished our wine we returned inside to the bar where I had a ladylike pint of Kronenberg. A couple of other guests were also in the bar at this time. We then returned to our room to get showered and ready for dinner. Smart-casual dress is expected in the evenings at the Overwater.
Dinner is served from 7pm with last orders at 8:30pm. We arrived in the bar at about 7:30pm - hubby had a whisky and I had a brandy - we were also given canapés. We were then shown to our table where our bottle of red wine was served (in retrospect judging by the dishes we chose we probably should have gone for a white wine, but we tend to prefer red).
The dinner costs £40, and begins with a starter. The menu changes on a daily basis due to people who have lots of money and stay for more than one night - however I could quite happily have eaten every dish on that menu. I went for the turbot with a poached egg, while hubby had pork terrine. Both dishes were faultless.
This was followed by the fish dish which was a salmon and sea bass moussy thing.
For main course I chose the guinea fowl, and hubby paid the £5 supplement and went for the lobster.
For dessert I went for the sticky toffee pudding and hubby chose a chocolate thing which was very rich. My sticky toffee sauce was absolutely fantastic.
All courses were very well presented and just lovely really. Although portions are relatively small (compared to cheap places!) we were pretty stuffed by the end of it.
However, being piggy and splashing out, hubby paid an extra £6.50 and also had a cheese selection - the waiter told him what each cheese was. We also paid £11.50 to have a small bottle of port which worked out at 2 glasses each.
We then retired to the lounge to have coffee and truffles. We had a bit of a potter in the grounds, and then went up to bed!
We must still have been in work mode as we woke up at 7am, but I have to say that the bed was very comfy. However, it turned out that breakfast wasn't served until 8:30am which is a bit odd really. Most people staying there will want to be going for walks so I would have thought that they'd have wanted an earlier start than that.
The waiter came and took our order and poured us juice and hubby ordered coffee. There was a choice of cereals, and porridge, but we decided just to have the full English breakfast (there were also kippers on the menu), and we given toast while waiting for that. I chose my egg to be scrambled and hubby had fried - it came with fried bread, a sausage, bacon, black pudding, a big mushroom, and a grilled tomato. The meat is all locally produced, and it was nice. But I have to say it wasn't really anything special.
We left after cleaning our teeth, and went to pay the bill - I was eager to get home to open my birthday presents! It came to £269 - so add the £50 paid already to it, and it was £320. An expensive evening, but this is something we only do once a year to celebrate my birthday and our anniversary.
---The Downside ---
Lack of TV signal - I know that people don't go to these places to watch TV, but whilst waiting for 8:30am to have breakfast we had fancied watching the news. The TV was pretty much unwatchable - not sure what they're going to do when Cumbria goes digital next year. There was also no mobile phone signal, so although that didn't bother us, it might be a problem for some people.
I had expected hubby and I to be the youngest in the hotel by a long way, and I was right. But I did find that some of the guests seemed to be a bit pretentious. Not all by any means, as for the most part the other guests seemed friendly. But I don't know, I did feel a little bit out of place. It did crack me up though when someone described something "as dull as dishwater". Looking in the guestbook it seemed that most people came from fairly nice places...well a bit more upmarket (and more further afield) than Workington anyway! I think it goes without saying that the hotel is not really family friendly, it is not that kind of place!
While the room was nice, it wasn't the best I've stayed in. Just little things, like the towels not matching and there only being one packet of biscuits. But the main problem for me was that there was nothing to steal (not that it's stealing really is it?). The shampoo and soap was in big bottles which were not the sort which can be taken away.....I do like to stock up on soaps and shower gels when at hotels (not sure why as it's rare that I actually use them!), so that was a little bit of a disappointment.
---Will we be back next year? ---
We did have a lovely evening. But when weighing things up I have to say that the Pheasant wins by a long way. The price was similar, but I just feel more comfortable (and less out of place) at the Pheasant, the breakfast was better there, and they have a better selection of drinks behind the bar.
So, I doubt we will go to the Overwater Hall Hotel again, but I think I'd still recommend it as a place to go - especially if you have a lot of money. It is in a fantastic location, the staff are excellent, and dinner was very good.
Please let me know if there is anything you'd like to see included.
Located in the Northern Lake District in Cumbria, Overwater Hall is a grade 2 Georgian Mansion.