Irton Hall stands in very pleasant surroundings, with hotel accommodation and self-catering cottages available on site. Some of these cottages are owned and managed by the Hall, whilst others are privately owned and just managed by the hotel.
James Court cottage falls into the latter category, which may be why items such as the child safety gate and clothes airer were unusable because they had fixings missing, or were simply broken.
Whilst we did report these, with the owner being abroad, there was no way to have either fixed or replaced in time for us to make use of them. Consequently, we spent the week with the risk that our two-year-old could injure themselves on the stairs. Had we known that the stair gate wasn't available as advertised, then we would have had the option to take our own.
The water boiler is strangely located in the loft and comes on between 11pm and 2am, the noise of which will keep lighter sleepers awake. There is no way for renters to alter the settings, so be advised you are stuck with it!
In the bedrooms, there is no chest of drawers or dressing table so flat surfaces are virtually nil and storage space is limited to the built-in wardrobes. Whilst another item of furniture might not fit into the smaller bedroom, there is more than enough space for one in the master bedroom.
Although James Court cottage is clean, the decor is quite sterile, and the absence of a couple of additional pieces of practical furniture doesn't help. Larger blinds or curtains which more thoroughly overlap the whole window frame would ensure you are not awoken by the blinding rays of light in the morning too!
The "welcome tray" consisted of a cheap box of chocolates. Having stayed at many rental cottages over the years, all have provided bread, milk, tea, coffee and a vase of flowers for new arrivals, which goes a long way to making you feel instantly at home. Simple stuff, but effective.
Another point worth considering is that Irton Hall hosts quite a lot of functions, such as weddings and receptions, with the consequential disruption to the peace these can cause. A large marquee stands on the lawn to the front of the building, which is apparently there throughout the spring and summer months in order to accommodate the guests at these aforementioned events.
Despite the rental cottages being located to the rear of the main building, the party guests obviously rent some of the cottages, and stay in the hotel itself, so inevitably some will stray around the grounds and can shatter the tranquility for others. For example, a number of drunken revellers decided to set up camp at the table right outside our cottage until 5am. I can only deduce that the party must have been either too much or too boring for them!
The point here is that it would show consideration to advise prospective renters of any scheduled events like this at the time of booking. For those looking for a quiet stay and those who have young children, having noisy drunks roaming around outside your door in the early hours is not acceptable. If we wanted this, we could have booked into a cheap B&B in any seaside town.
However, it should be noted that Irton Hall hotel does provide excellent food and service, and is extremely convenient for when you don't fancy cooking for yourself, or just want a snack and a drink. The grounds are very nice too (if you can ignore the marquee), and great for a stroll or playing with the kids.
Staying at Irton Hall wasn't an unpleasant experience (despite these comments!), but we would not return as it wasn't quite what we envisaged, and have rented better-proportioned cottages in quieter environments for a comparable rate.