Period charm and views to die for

Many guests have enjoyed the delights of Amberleigh. Now it could be your turn, writes Trish Dromey

Set on the hill above the sweep of Cork’s outer harbour, Amberleigh House offered occupants and guests a superb view of the Balmoral when it sailed into Cobh as part of the Titanic commemorations in April this year.

Earlier owners would have enjoyed similar views of departing Famine ships, and also of the ill-fated Titanic arriving on its maiden voyage in 1912.

The current owners of Amberleigh House, who have been running it as a guesthouse for ten years, say the harbour view is one of the main attractions.

“When you look out it almost seems as if the ships are at the bottom of the garden,’’ says the lady of the house — who has photos of the QE2 and the Independence of the Seas cruise ship to prove it.

With its charming slate-clad, creeper-covered exterior, decorative fascia boards and attractive gardens, this semi-detached Victorian house has more to offer than just views. Built in the 1830s it is believed to have originally been the residence of the estate manager for the Smith Barrys, who owned Fota House. The current owners have been told that the estate tenants used to come to the house and pay their rent in the front sitting room.

Extending over 3,000 sq ft, the house has now been upgraded and altered to accommodate the needs of a different type of visitor. However, it has kept the feel and many of the features of a period house.

Quoting a guide price of €550,000, selling agent Johanna Murphy describes it as a well-kept property which is both enchanting and quaint.

In setting up Amberleigh House as a B&B, the owners carried out some renovations and adjustments. On the ground level they turned the kitchen into a breakfast room and a scullery into a kitchen while upstairs they reduced the number of bedrooms from eight to five and added four en suites. They also converted one bedroom into a large laundry room and another into a large bathroom adjoining the master bedroom.

Previous owners had already replaced the original timber windows putting in some PVC and some timber ones, replaced the roof and installed central heating. The current owners converted the heating to gas, redecorated in mostly neutral shades and then landscaped the front gardens in readiness to receive guests.

The selling points for the guests — the views, old world charm and the location, within a five-minute walk from the town — are the same ones which are likely to attract viewers to the property. Ms Murphy says the house is perfectly equipped as a large family home but might just as readily be bought by someone wishing to continue to run it as a B&B.

The house has its own website at Amberleigh.ie and it also gets a high number of favourable reviews on the tripadvisor.com website. As expected, most were impressed with the views of the harbour and the charm of the house, but several guests were also very taken with the effectiveness of the power showers in the en suites.

The power showers are one of the most noticeable modern features in a house which has quite a number of period features including shuttered sash windows, dado rails, and ceiling cornicing as well as an interior courtyard. The fireplaces aren’t believed to be original but were probably added in the 1920s which makes them sufficiently old for period ambience.

The rooms with the most appeal are those at the front with harbour views. This includes the estate manager’s sitting room which has a sash window at the front and a large bay window area at the side, which resembles a small sunroom. Also facing the front is the guest dining room which has a marble fireplace and a chandelier. Other accommodation includes a front hallway, an inner hallway which functions as a reception area as well as a second sitting room, which has a decorative archway and four large sash windows. To the rear there’s a breakfast room for the owners which opens on to an attractive, decked courtyard in the centre of the house. There’s also a kitchen fitted with all the equipment needed to make breakfast for the paying guests.

Although the owners have given over the ground floor views, they have kept some of the first-floor views for themselves.

This includes the view from the windows in the master bedroom and adjoining bathroom. Decorated in blue and cream, the bedroom has an extra large canopy bed while the bathroom has an original claw foot bath. Also at this level are four large en suite guest bedrooms including one with harbour views, as well as a large laundry room with a sink and a commercial washing machine.

As required for a guesthouse, the house has a large parking area. Set on a site of just under two acres, it also has lawned gardens with plants and trees at the front as well as a patio and viewing area.

Viewers are likely to be as impressed as the house’s former paying guests, who highly recommend the property for the views, the character — and the power showers.

VERDICT: One to view.

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