Derwent Cottage / 30 Wordsworth Street / Keswick / Cumbria / CA12 4BZ.
Just occasionally, my girlfriend insists that I stop watching films and get out into the real world. Last week was one such week. Despite it being November we chose Keswick as our destination, staying in Derwent Cottage
Booking could not have been easier. The cottage has a good website where you can not only book online, but also see whether the cottage is free the week you want. I filled in the form and very quickly got an email back confirming my booking and giving details of how to pay. Once payment was made, I was contacted again with details of how to get there and the arrangements for collecting the keys. Everything was done by email and was nice and straightforward. Booking a hotel room with a national chain has often taken me longer and been more complicated than this!
I suppose if I were trying to find fault, it might be that the booking diary seems to imply that you can only book for a week, so you couldnt say, have a long weekend. Having said that, the online booking form does ask you to provide the start and end dates for your stay, so it might be possible to book for part of a week Im not sure.
[Update: I've since found out that it is possible to book for a period shorter than a week by entering the dates you would like into the booking form]
Derwent Cottage is very conveniently located just off the side streets alongside the main road through Keswick, so whichever direction you are coming from, it is easy to find. It is about five minutes walk from the town centre, giving easy access to all the shops and pubs. Better still, it is in a pretty central location, so most of the Lake District is within easy driving distance. Theres a lot to do in the Lakes from serious walking to serious sight-seeing, so its a real advantage to be in such a central location.
It has to be said that first impressions are not exactly encouraging. The name, Derwent Cottage, implies a small house, surrounded by fields, perhaps with a small stream running at the bottom of the garden. Sadly, that couldnt be further from the truth. Turn up one of the side streets on your way to the house and there is a car repair garage at the top not exactly what you imagined! Turn into Wordsworth Street itself, where the cottage is situated, and you realise that it is actually just a terraced house on a residential street. Not exactly a promising start!
Fortunately, first impressions are very misleading. The house is lovely and one I would recommend to anyone. From the moment you walk in, there is a wonderful, homely feel to it. Normally when I go into a holiday cottage, there is slight sense of awkwardness and I feel the need to explore, unpack and generally wander around before I feel settled. With Derwent Cottage, I felt at home straight away!
As noted above, the cottage is a mid-terraced property in a residential street. However, dont let that put you off, because its actually a really quiet street. We had neighbours the whole week we were there, but never heard a sound from them the walls of the house appear to be nice and thick! Also, despite the closeness to Keswick town centre, at no point were we disturbed by people talking or shouting outside the house.
The house is deceptively large and could easily accommodate a family of up to five people. Downstairs is a comfortable, yet good-sized lounge and dining room. Just off that, there is a well-equipped kitchen (more on that later). Just off the kitchen is a door leading to the back yard and another leading to a downstairs toilet with a shower.
Up one flight of stairs is a lovely big bathroom and one bedroom with twin beds and a cot, whilst another flight of stairs leads to a single bedroom and a loft bedroom with a double bed. Because of the layout of the house, there are plenty of places where you can go if you want a bit of peace and quiet, and also plenty of room if you want to socialise an ideal combination when on holiday!
I can only comment on the bedroom with the double bed, because thats the only one I used, but it was incredibly comfortable, warm and peaceful and at no time did I consider using one of the other rooms I was very happy with the one I chose! Ive no reason to assume the other rooms werent just as comfy though!
What impressed me most about the cottage was the facilities. It was a really well equipped cottage. Its a self-catering cottage, so youd expect the kitchen to be well equipped, and sure enough it is, with standard kitchen appliances like an oven and fridge freezer. However, there were also other things like a microwave, washing machine and tumble dryer freely available to use. This contrasts strongly with some places Ive stayed where use of such items was closely guarded! There was plenty of crockery and not a single thing which we felt was lacking.
The lounge has a DVD player, video recorder and decent television provided. There were even a few videos (not my taste personally, although Id taken parts of my own DVD collection to watch!) and a whole bookshelf full of books (again, not to my taste, but its the thought that counts!) All of these things really added to the homely atmosphere.
Things got even better when you got to the main bathroom. There was an excellent power shower which gave wonderfully hot water and was the ideal thing after a long day tramping around the Lakes! Equally, there was a fantastic bath big enough to really stretch out in to soak away the aches and pains of a long days walking!
Probably the only disappointing aspect of the cottage was the al fresco dining area as it is described on the website. This is perhaps a little over-ambitious. It was basically a plastic table and four plastic chairs plonked in the (mainly concrete) backyard. True, there was nothing actually wrong with it, but it wasnt the most enticing dining area ever. Having said that, I was there in November, so dining outside wasnt exactly a realistic option anyway!
The cottage was also lovely and warm especially since we were there in winter when gales were regularly blowing outside! The heating is timed to be on more or less constantly, with the temperature being controlled by thermostat and varying according to the time of day. Visitors are asked not to tamper with this programme (fair enough). However, you can raise or lower the temperature manually should it suddenly become too cold/hot. In addition, the lounge features a nice living flame style gas fire which really heats the room up nicely should it get particularly cold.
Another nice feature of the cottage was that clear instructions were provided on how to use virtually all the equipment in the cottage. Thankfully, these were not intrusive (Ive been to places where pieces of paper/notes were stuck on virtually everything!) Instead, there was a folder all the information you might need. Another nice, unobtrusive touch!
As with many places, the cost varies according to the time of year. Prices for 2007 range from £270 during the off-season to £475 during peak times. Again, you can find out which prices apply when from the online bookings diary. As I said at the start of the review, the cottage could comfortably house five, so less than £100 a week per person for peak season in the Lake District sounds very reasonable to me!
This was my first visit to Derwent Cottage, but it definitely wont be my last. Its a lovely, warm, comfortable place that just exudes homeliness. Its also in a perfect location whatever you like to do, I think it is a much pleasanter option (and probably cheaper) than staying in many of the B&Bs in the area.
30 Wordsworth Street
Self catering cottage.