Ees Wyke, Lake District – Hotel Review
Ees Wyke Country House, Lake District
by Karl Hornsey
Ees Wyke Country House is situated on the outskirts of the village of Near Sawrey in the Lake District, overlooking Esthwaite Water, and just a couple of miles from the western shores of Lake Windermere. Built in 1742 the house is afforded stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains, and guests can walk across the fields to the Water, a little further to Hill Top Farm, the former home of Beatrix Potter, or two minutes up the road to the local pub.
The proprietor is Richard Lee, who has run Ees Wyke for 15 years, and his friendly welcome and manner immediately set us at ease. Parking right in front of the house I was taken by the scale and grandeur of both it and the surrounding gardens, and it was easy to imagine the mill owner, for whom it was originally built, rattling around in one of its many rooms and deciding in which wing to eat his dinner. We stayed in the Green Room, one of eight guest rooms, seven of which are on the first floor.
The Green Room was a good size and spotlessly clean, with a comfortable bed, which afforded us a wonderful night’s sleep, furniture in keeping with the age of the building, and the nice touch of a welcoming carafe of sherry. While there are also tea and coffee-making facilities in the room, the host was happy to serve us tea downstairs in one of the two lounges upon our arrival. The en suite is small, but well-designed, and offers soft towels and quality toiletries courtesy of Penhaligon’s of London, and for anyone wanting a bath, there is a separate bathroom along the first floor.
There is an old-fashioned charm about the place, which is quite unusual these days, but which really works in a building and location of this type. Being on the west of Lake Windermere, the much quieter side, this is a place to unwind away from the tourist hordes in sheer peace and quiet, with the stunning views adding to the relaxing air. While there is a quaint charm to the house, that isn’t to say it is completely set in the past, with free wi-fi in all rooms and the recent emergence of Ees Wyke on Twitter suggests an effort to bring the establishment a little closer to the modern world.
The cleanliness of our room extended to the rest of the building, but it’s here where there is some work to be done. In a house of such age, scale and size, it is naïve to expert perfection and there are plenty of examples of some TLC being required. Whether that be with some of the discoloured wallpaper on the first-floor landing, the peeling wallpaper on the dining room ceiling, or the need for the carpet in the Green Room to be deep-cleaned to remove some of the marks, in the grand scheme of things these are relatively minor quibbles and in no way affected our stay. However, while to some people they simply add to the charm, to others they may prevent Ees Wyke reaching their expected standards.
We chose to eat at the hotel for the first night of our stay, sampling the option of a three-course evening meal, plus coffee, prepared and cooked to a high standard by the owner, and served in the elegant dining room. The menu is limited, expectedly so for such an establishment, but is of a quality that can be confirmed by the number of awards on display.
We had the asparagus wrapped in pancetta, and scallops for starters, roast duckling as our main, and summer pudding and a selection of cheeses for dessert, all of which went back to the kitchen with the plates completely empty, although my wife and I both could have handled a larger portion for the mains.
As well as the evening meals being renowned for their quality, the breakfasts are also highly regarded and it is easy to see why. A large selection of cereals, fruit compote, porridge, homemade marmalade and jams, croissants and homemade breads are on offer upon arrival in the dining room, as well as delicious teas and coffees, and an extensive menu that includes, of course, the Full English, but also kippers, smoked haddock and a number of other options, all locally sourced.
The Full English was just the job to start the day, using quality ingredients, and a relaxing morning was helped by our friendly and knowledgeable waitress Caroline, who had no problem in looking after the needs of a roomful of guests.
There is an element with everything about Ees Wyke of stepping back in time a little, whether it be the house, the location or the proprietor, and I mean that as a sincere compliment. There are few places where one can feel completely relaxed, replete and rejuvenated. Ees Wyke is definitely one of them – and long may that continue.