NB: This same review is also on the listing for The Lodge, since the Cottage is part of the same property.
My boyfriend and I stayed at The Lodge (in the Cottage) for five nights and enjoyed it thoroughly! Elizabeth, who runs it, is hospitable and welcoming, and Karen at the Academy Cafe (on the grounds, steps from our home away from home) was a wonderful hostess and a treasure trove of advice on the area (and made sure that we did not miss sunset on Shirley Heights, which was, as she predicted, one of the highlights of our stay). She also made sure we ate plenty of delicious, fresh, healthy food! Elizabeth gave me a nice thorough tour when I arrived to show me where everything was, and in fact had already sent a very helpful written guide to the area by email as soon as I reserved the cottage, so I felt like I knew exactly what to expect and how to get around.
The property is located on the grounds of the National Sailing Academy, which gives sailing lessons to local kids, including disabled kids and kids who can't afford to pay for the lessons. Dive Caribe is also located on the property, as well as The Academy Cafe, which I mentioned above.
There are other accommodations besides our cottage on the property (in the Lodge building next door to the Cottage, there are two self-catering apartments and several other rooms). However, Elizabeth does not run the hotel for profit; instead, what she makes from taking in guests goes right back into giving kids sailing lessons - which made us feel really great as we watched happy children going back and forth getting their life jackets on every day. It's a warm and vibrant place, not at all like being isolated at a resort somewhere, which is exactly what we like. :)
The accommodations in the cottage, though not fancy, are very pleasant. Our studio/cottage had a queen-sized bed with a comfortable mattress; a small kitchenette area with fridge, two-burner hotplate, microwave, toaster, and electric kettle; a compact table with two chairs; and a couple of very comfortable armchairs to relax in. Brochures and maps with local information were also provided in the room for us, which was handy. There is a compact, tower-type oscillating fan, and an air-conditioning unit, which we usually turned on only for a few minutes just before we went to bed as the sea breezes kept us pretty comfortable. The bathroom, given the size of the cottage, is pretty spacious, and the shower was quite roomy. Windows have both light-blocking curtains for when you want complete privacy and bamboo roller shades for when you want some light and breezes coming through. Everything worked fine except that one roller shade was jammed on one side - but we just raised the other side when we wanted a bit more breeze. There was plenty of cupboard space in the kitchen for any food you wanted to store; the two nightstands by the bed, each with three large drawers, were great for clothes for our stay. There were hooks with hangers on them for anything you needed to hang up. Two generous-sized beach towels were provided for us. We also had a picnic table right outside our door, or we were welcome to sit outside at the Academy Cafe's outdoor tables, including one in a beautiful pavilion overlooking Falmouth Bay and the National Sailing Academy's dock. The wifi signal in the cottage, and outside, was fine. There is no television but I can't imagine why I would have wanted to sit inside and watch TV! The one thing we could have used in the cottage was a broom so that I could have swept out all the sand I kept managing to track in! but Elizabeth (or rather, her husband Peter) kindly lent me one from her home, which is also right on the grounds, so no worries. :) We were told that the tap water was meant to be fine, but because the pipes are old Elizabeth provides bottled water from water coolers for her guests to drink, available whenever you need it.
Swimming was available right off the dock, and Elizabeth made sure to tell me that we were welcome to use the Academy's kayaks, sailboats, or paddleboards - though we sadly did not have time to do this, so I am not sure if that was included in our rate or if there was an additional charge. Though my kids were not with me, I am a mom and it seemed to me that this would be a fantastic, fun place to stay with kids - casual and relaxed with swimming off the dock and watersports right there, lovely grounds to run around on, and plenty of things to do in easy walking distance.
Everyone on the property is very friendly and helpful, and it is such a good-spirited, relaxed atmosphere. The Dive Caribe dive shop guys, whose office is next door to the Cottage, are great too - I wish we had had time to have them put together a snorkeling expedition for us, but our visit was just too short. The Cafe hosted a private birthday party one evening (someone's 60th) - and as we were finishing up our dinner as they were getting started, they offered us pieces of birthday cake! (The party wound up by 10, as well, so no problem with late-night noise).
The location was, as I said in the heading, perfect! English Harbour is a compact town, and we were a five-minute walk from a small market on the town's edge, and perhaps a twenty-minute walk to Pigeon Beach just around the point, which is lovely, has two restaurants (one at each end of the beach) if you want a drink or a meal, and has tons of shade if like me you don't like grilling your sad, fish-belly-white northern self in the sun when you are out of the water.
On the way to the beach you pass through the town of English Harbour, which has lots of restaurants and bars - we mostly ate at Karen's wonderful Academy Cafe, though, as her food was fresh and delicious, her prices were unbeatable, and she herself was such good company that it was hard to be bothered to walk anywhere else! There were lots of options, though, including several local ladies who cook out of the fronts of their houses on the weekend - everything looked and smelled delicious.
We also enjoyed spending some time looking around Nelson's Dockyard, which is a national park with lots of interesting historical buildings (several housing hotels now), a small museum, and some extremely gorgeous yachts. We were preparing to pay the entry fee and the man asked us where we were staying - when we told him, he waved us through without taking the fee, so I think that if you are staying in the town of English Harbour you are allowed in? or, perhaps, the gentleman was just being hospitable and kind, like so many of the people we encountered in Antigua.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in English Harbour and would highly recommend The Lodge. Elizabeth and Karen made us feel just a bit like family, and I hope we will have the chance to return someday. :)