Hotel review: Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, Lake District, Cumbria
A family-run hotel set in the salubrious surroundings of Lake Windermere that boasts soul-boosting views and an envy-inducing flair for interior design. The picturesque main hotel has 20 rooms while, a mile down the road, there is also a Lake House accommodation, which offers a boutique-style stay with just six suites.
Although the hotel is a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux, upon arrival you quickly realise there's no sign of pretentiousness; the service is personal, and the staff extremely friendly in that way only northerners know how. We stayed in the Lake House, and had the overwhelming feeling we'd arrived at our very own luxurious country pad, with fires already crackling, lakeside cedarwood hot tub ready and waiting, and staff on hand to fix you, well, pretty much anything you like.
This place is perfect if you...
Are a couple looking for no-kids bliss. The beautiful setting couldn't be more conducive to rekindling that spark, or celebrating an anniversary, birthday or special occasion.
Best room in the house
The Maud suite is the biggest room in the Lake House and was our home for two nights. With modern, stylish furniture (rustic hot pink bedside tables, floral accessories, lavish lamps), of the finest quality, the squashy sofas, giant grey pouf and feature fireplace made the perfect feet-up place for reading the coffee table magazines provided. Charming, sophisticated and cosy.
Where to eat
Breakfast is served in the conservatory, accessed through the lounge where the fire is already
roaring. The best vegetarian sausage I've ever eaten (hands-down), a pretty lake vista, and African-themed decor (we loved the antler bar stools), kicked the day off with a big smile. For dinner, a taxi will take you to the main hotel, where you can sip cocktails at the bar (trust us, make yours a Damson in Distress), and chat to the owners' son, Ben, who strolls round checking everything's perfect for you. Then it's in to one of the four restaurant rooms for a spot of fine dining. This place isn't Michelin-rated yet, but it's surely on a fast track to its first star.
Take a bottle of bubbles on a romantic trip around the lake on a little rowing boat (you'll find life vests in the swimming pool area), for a fun and really memorable touch.
Things to do, places to see...
Gilpin is the ideal retreat to go for a rebooting do-nothing weekend, but it would be a great shame not to explore the amazing countryside while you're there. The best way to do it? On horseback. We trotted off on a two-hour trek with the lovely people - and horses - at Bigland Hall, about a 20-minute drive from the hotel. And, of course, you should make a pitstop at close-by Lake Windermere, for traditional cream teas, ice-cream, homemade fudge, and a sightseeing boat trip.
From £290 per night including dinner, bed and full breakfast, based on two sharing.
Gilpin Hotel and Lake House, Crook Road, Windermere, The English Lake District, LA23 3NE. Visit gilpinlodge.co.uk or call 015394 88818. The hotel is just two miles from Lake Windermere and a short distance from Oxenholme Train Station with regular trains running from Euston Train Station.