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Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa

4.0 out of 5.0

Recent guest reviews

Great location at the bottom of the road into town overlooking the lake. All the shops and restaurants are within short walking distance. There is no parking at the hotel but they will valet park it for you at 20£/day. There are 2 public parking lots that charge 12£/day but not that close. Very nice and clean rooms. We did not have the lake view unfortunately. Fantastic views from the lounge bar and restaurant which has a terrace. They have steam rooms and saunas and a lap pool but no hot tub. Very friendly and helpful front desk.

Please note that I am NOT a hotel inspector or food critic. As with all of my Trip Advisor reviews, I can only provide an honest, first-hand account of what I've witnessed and experienced. This was our second stay at MacDonald Old England in Bowness, having previously stayed there in July 2016. We visit the Lake District two or three times a year for hillwalking, usually staying in Grasmere at The Daffodil or The Inn At Grasmere. Unfortunately, neither were available this time. We booked a couple of months ago through - £413 for three nights B&B in an executive double room. The Old England hotel has a prime position on the shores of Lake Windermere, with spectacular views from the rear, including the main dining room and many of the bedrooms. There is also a lovely indoor pool (recently re-tiled), along with a spa. However, be aware that there is no on-site parking at this hotel. Prepare to be stung by the extortionate daily charge for Concierge to park your car, either a few metres away beside the hotel, or up the road at a piece of wasteland they own which has a barrier but no cameras. MacDonald usually charges £20 per night for this 'privilege' (inconvenience) where you have to go to reception everytime you want to go to, or actually use your car and wait for it to be brought to the front of the hotel. After a day walking near Keswick, we arrived for check-in at about 6pm on Monday 4th September. The young man who served us was smart, polite, but rather unwelcoming. Very stiff and formal. Nothing warm and friendly about him, whatsoever. He did mention during the check-in process that he had reduced our daily car parking charge from £20 per day to £10 (£30 in total), due to the length of our stay. I was made to feel like I should be really grateful for such an amazing act of personal generosity by him ! As an alternative, you can pay £7 for 12 hours of parking (between 8am and 8pm) each day (parking is free between 8pm and 8am) at the public car park in Rayrigg Road, just a few minutes walk from the hotel. At the time of booking, I used the 'Special Requests' option and asked if we could have a room with a view of Lake Windermere. Although there was no guarantee that our request would be met, when we arrived at our room (14), it was a bit disappointing to be at the front of the hotel, meaning that we overlooked the church and side street. The room was very clean and we had no issues (other than the view). Our stay was ruined on Tuesday morning (5th September), our first of three planned and paid for breakfasts (£21.50 per person, per day according to the menu). We were shown to our table by a female member of the restaurant staff who was more senior in status than the others. Again, we were taken aback by how cold and unfriendly she was, just like the guy the previous night at reception. Even allowing for her east European accent, the individual basically barked instruction and questions at us regarding our drink and toast preferences. No warmth or pleasantness whatsoever. Just very blunt and 'matter-of-fact'. After helping ourselves to some of the continental breakfast items on offer, our drinks and toast were presented. The toast was very thin, cheap bread and didn't really look particularly appetising. It was then that I noticed a ball of fluff, the size of a pea on one of the pieces. I caught the attention of one of the male waiters. I pointed out the issue to him and politely asked for replacement toast. The individual, a young man of Asian or middle eastern appearance, made no apology and showed no interest in the issue as he simply took the offending rack of toast away. Unless the toast had been dropped on the floor before it arrived at our table, how on earth could the ball of fluff have possibly come into contact with the bread ? So far during our stay, direct contact with three different employees of the hotel and all of them the same - cold, unfriendly and quite simply bloody miserable. By this stage, we were glad that we wouldn't be buying anything else from the hotel (we would find evening meals, elsewhere). The replacement toast arrived, shortly followed by our 'cooked to order' hot breakfast. It was a good job we weren't that hungry. It's hardly the quantity that would set you up for the day ! As I started to eat my breakfast, I found a thick black hair (about an inch long), underneath my hash brown. It must have been on the plate when the food was served on top of it. I was disgusted and pointing it out to my partner who stopped eating her breakfast and said that she didn't want to eat at the hotel anymore. I called over the female who had first shown us to our table and taken our order. To be fair, she was quite shocked, apologised and disappeared with my plate. A few minutes later, the Duty Manager came over. A very pleasant, smart, polite and friendly young man by the name of Saibid (hope I've got his name right). He was very apologetic and offered to get the chef to cook us another breakfast. We politely declined. He then offered us sandwiches. We again declined. Saibid then informed us that he was on duty each morning during our stay and would shortly be in the bar area of the hotel. We left our table and went back to our room. I then went and met Saibid. Again, Saibid was very apologetic and offered me sandwiches prepared by the head chef and a coffee. I politely declined and stated that both myself and my partner had lost confidence in the hotel to provide us with any more food and drinks during our stay. Two incidents in the space of fifteen minutes were enough for us to know that food hygiene standards at the hotel can't be that clever. Saibid informed me that he had already arranged for £40 to be refunded on to our bill, for that day's breakfast. I again stated that we wouldn't be requiring breakfast on the following two mornings, either. He said that he would get further refunds sorted. We always look forward to breakfast when we are away and this completely ruined things. We were left with having to leave the hotel each morning and find somewhere else that served breakfast. We used the pool, sauna and steam room each evening and they were lovely (with helpful and friendly staff members). On Wednesday evening, I went to reception and asked the female member of staff for a copy of our bill. For peace of mind, I wanted to check that all three breakfasts had been refunded (£120 in total). The lady who was called Jasmine was very warm, helpful and friendly, a complete contrast to her male colleagues on reception who all seemed completely humourless and stressed. Jasmine brought up the account details and advised that only one of the three mornings had been refunded. I made her aware of the fluff on the toast, the hair on the plate and the fact that Saibid said he would sort it. Jasmine went downstairs to the restaurant and spoke with Saibid. He had asked for the refunds to be processed but had been let-down by his colleagues responsible for such administration details. I shared my feelings with Jasmine and how appalling the whole situation was, adding that I'm glad that I had the foresight to check about our refunds, before the morning of departure. Jasmine again apologised and said that she would take personal responsibility for ensuring that the refunds were processed. On the Thursday morning at check-out, I was served by Jasmine and was relieved that all the refunds had been applied to our account. Jasmine is such a breath of fresh air, so pleasant, helpful, warm and friendly and is a complete contrast to her male reception-based colleagues. During our stay, no member of the hotel Management made any attempt to contact us and offer any goodwill payments or gifts, by way of an apology for the hassle and inconvenience their poor food hygiene standards had caused us. Additionally, we have heard nothing from MacDonald Hotels, since we have been back. We won't be using their establishment, again.

Excellent location adjacent to Lake Windermere. Outstanding view of lake from bedroom and dining room. Friendly helpful staff. Breakfast was first class. Wide choice of breakfast food. Facilities good. Used Pool and sauna daily . Parking expensive at £20 a day

The hotel offers a superior position by the lake and a minute stroll to the centre. I was offered valet parking on arrival and all reception staff are excellent at their job. As we were there on business we met plenty of the staff and they dealt with everything quickly and efficiently. The bedroom faced the lake and had a larger than normal window so you could appreciate the view. The room had all the normal facilities, but I had to have a room without bath. Decor gives a period feel of taste and wealth while maintaining a busy modern hotel ability. I can't imagine how the hotel gets lower ratings as it has all the facilities you would expect and excellent staff. Luckily we weren't paying so I can't judge value for money but I would certainly pay extra to stay there.

Found ourselves in The Lake District on Lake Windermere in Bowness and spent the night at MacDonald Old English Hotel and Spa. Enjoyed the most delicious meal with Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert. Still dreaming about it as it was that good! Lovely lakeside view and lovely accommodations. Wish we could have stayed longer for sure.

Stayed here Friday to Sunday and had a great couple of days. Great welcome by Paul on the desk, fantastic room, big, clean and nice King size bed. Hotel definitely has the Xtra factor and I knew I'd picked the right hotel when the following morning we had breakfast sat looking over the lake. The breakfast was excellent, with the cooked portion done to individual request each time. The Hotel is in the perfect spot to explore Bowness right in the heart of the town and right on the lakeside. Pool was a notch above the average hotel pool very classy and big enough for four adults to swim in the "own space" side by side and actually have a proper swim. Good well equipped gym and loved the ice room. The last morning arrived too soon and we left planning our next trip back! Just can't get over the Car Park fee...£20..... per day!?!?! Really? Which exec with no customer service skills thought that one up? Parked in the very close pay and display for £15 for the weekend and the spot I presumably would have had in the Hotel was left empty. The only loss therefore was the small bit of goodwill that would have given you 5 out of 5.

Booked a two night break here at quite an expense. Beware that parking is £20 per day and we suspect they use your car at night! Our room was stuffy, small, tired and cramped, breakfast was delivered wrongly on both days by totally disinterested staff who struggled to speak any English. Napkins were 9" square pieces of tissue paper. We opted for valet parking which apparently was around 200 yards away. My car's Comand system is set to Navigation permanently but when delivered back was set to Audio mode and the channel had been changed to radio one suggesting the your assistant manager had perhaps been using my car??? MacDonald hotels need to sack this one, we stay in several of their hotels and love some but hate this one. AVOID.

My Travel Agent booked us the wrong room but Jasmine and Ryan on the desk couldn't have been more helpful. We got a beautiful room with a view of the lake and other helpful advice. We thoroughly enjoyed the Afternoon Tea whilst looking at the lake. My only negative would be the pricey parking.

Location was nice. Close to town and the lake. Room was okay. Once again, this hotel had my room on a different floor than my mother's when they were suppose to close together. Was hoping for a room with a view of the lake but nope. View of nothing. Breakfast was okay.

For our one year anniversary we booked the Executive Balcony Room which was in an appalling state, there was mould in the shower (pictures uploaded), dead flies left in the light and we constantly had to call maintenance to remove the various creepy crawleys, no tv facilities (despite talking to ageta the 'manager' who promised to resolve the issue it was never fixed). The mattress was so runined and beyond its lifespan and I'd had such a terrible first night by the next morning I was close to tears at the amount of money spent on this terrible hotel, my husband went to reception who instead of changing the mattress placed a topper on the bed which was better than the first night but was by no means good. By the end of our four day stay we were so fed up of moody staff, cold pool water and a fire alarm at 3 o clock in the morning with no apology or explanation we decided we had to see the manager before we left. Beware this fraud who calls herself a manager, her solution was to offer no explanation but try to bung us some dicounted prices for the next time we stayed by asking for an email address. They couldn't pay me to stay at this shambles of a hotel and I wish we'd returned to bellsfield were we had the most amazing honeymoon the year before

Room options

Classic Double Room (Walker)

Full 1 | Sleeps 2

Classic Double Room

Full 1 | Sleeps 2

Classic Twin Room

Twin 2 | Sleeps 2

Classic Double Room (King)

King 1 | Sleeps 2

Reviews from Trip Advisor

Trip Advisor aggregated rating

74% of guests recommend this hotel

Total of 2901 reviews