An Ambleside guest house has been judged the best in Cumbria just two years after the new owners took over.
Haven Cottage won the title at the Cumbria Tourism awards, with the judges highlighting the excellent customer service of Chris and Allie Hodgson.
The award was open to bed and breakfast and guest-house businesses providing “truly memorable guest experiences and demonstrating excellence across every aspect of the business”.
Chris and Allie swapped their corporate jobs in their 30s to set-up and run a catered ski chalet in the French Alps, first in Morzine and then in Samoens, before moving back to the UK four years ago, and now run Haven Cottage with the help of housekeeper Cristina Dumitrascu. Chris is a member of Ambleside AC and was one of the organisers of the recent British Fell Relay races at Grasmere, and he’s also an active member of the sustainability group Ambleside Action for a Future.
They recently won the coveted ROSE award from Visit England in recognition of service excellence and Haven Cottage is the long-term Trip Advisor No 1 out of 101 establishments in Ambleside. The guest-house has three double bedrooms and two luxury suites, holds four-star gold accreditation from Visit England – and a reputation for excellent breakfasts. They also hold the Green Tourism silver award and are working toward gaining gold status.
Said Allie: “This is a wonderful accolade for us. While we believe that Haven Cottage provides a high level of comfort, it is more about how we run our guest house, and the exceptional customer service we provide, that we believe sets us apart.
“We have a genuine desire to make sure guests enjoy their stay in the Lakes to the maximum and spend time each day helping guests plan their day’s activities and provide detailed itineraries and walks if required.”
Chris said: “We spent over a decade running a very successful ski chalet in the French Alps. The time in France was invaluable in developing our hospitality skills and gave us confidence that our model of ‘excellence in customer service’ was the right one, both for ourselves and our guests.”
The personal touch is combined with an increasing focus on sustainability and community. Products are sourced locally in and around Ambleside to provide high quality breakfasts and toiletries, and the couple actively support the local community both in organised events and helping shape tomorrow’s world of sustainable tourism.
Allie said: “We do go out of our way to ensure guests are having a great stay. What’s the point in having all this knowledge and love for the Lakes if we don’t share it with our guests? It’s great to be recognised this way.”
What guests have said about Haven Cottage:
- Absolute perfection.
- The Haven is perfect.
- Chris and Allie were friendly, informative, welcoming and great breakfast chefs.
- Nothing I can fault at all.
- We were there for four nights and were able to observe a variety of guests from hard-core walkers (like us) to people who were car touring. Each couple was given the warmest of welcomes, and if they were new to the Lake District, very personal advice on how to use their time or where to walk given the weather conditions and their skill level.