The Lakeside Hotel & Spa, Lake Windermere
From the moment we arrived at our luxurious four-star hideaway in the heart of the Lake District it felt homely.
The Lakeside Hotel & Spa, nestling at the water’s edge on the southern tip of Lake Windermere, is the perfect place for a mini-break and one of a few secluded hotels just a stone’s throw from England’s largest natural lake.
After a trouble-free drive north on the M6 we arrived at the hotel in Newby Bridge and were taken aback by the breath-taking views of the lake and fells that filled the skyline.
The quiet lakeside setting means visitors can avoid the bustling towns of Ambleside and Bowness at the northern end of this ten mile long lake.
The hotel, originally a 17th century coaching inn, has been extended sympathetically over the years to feature the only Aveda destination spa in England, complete with 17m swimming pool and Brasserie to become Cumbria Tourism’s Lake District 2012 Hotel of the Year.
At reception we were greeted by a friendly porter who collected our bags and parked our car in the car park just yards from the hotel and were given a tour of the facilities.
Our room provided uninterrupted views of the lake which was just a step away from the terrace and exotic gardens, from which guests are invited to take plant cuttings.
Our classic country house styled room was inviting, comfortable and cosy. Staff had left added touches from bone-china tea cups to fluffy robes and a sunken Jacuzzi bath in an Italian marble bathroom, complete with yellow rubber duck to remind you that each morning at 11am guests can
help staff feed the wild ducks on the lawn.
In the room we found plenty of tea, coffee and biscuits and an ample supply of towels. The hotel also offers free wi-fi for the duration of your stay.
After unpacking we explored the hotel and its tranquil grounds. We discovered the hotel is steeped in history as it was used as a staging post and resting place for travellers working in the thriving cotton trade of Lancashire and Yorkshire in the 1900s when guests stayed en-route to local businesses such as the bobbin mills in the area. The 75-room hotel has undergone extensive refurbishment but retains a warm welcoming atmosphere of the charming coaching inn which boasts oak-panelled lounges and a crackling log fire.
The Lakeview Restaurant, which offers fine dining, blends perfectly with the modern style of John Ruskin’s Brasserie and pub where you can enjoy a quick and simple meal. If you simply want to indulge in a divine
traditional cream tea at £28 for two or a feast of cakes and pastries (£38 for two) then head to the conservatory or terrace which provide spectacular views and an array of swans and ducks on the lawn.
For that special touch there is the king of afternoon teas featuring sandwiches, chilled gazpacho and cakes (£45 for two) with the option of half a bottle of champagne.
After tea we took a short walk to find a gift shop, cafe and coffee shop and the pick up point for the Windemere Lake Cruises. It is also home to the Lakeside to Haverthwaite Railway terminus and the Aquarium of the Lakes which are both ideal for families.
Back at the hotel it was time to don a fluffy robe and indulge in the spa and with an hour-long pedicure and foot massage whilst my partner went for a swim, sauna and Jacuzzi.
As the sun began to set we took our seats in the two AA rosette Lakeview Restaurant for a sumptuous dinner.
The dining room has a traditional but cosy feel with tables spaciously arranged to give diners privacy.
Our waiters were helpful when choosing a bottle of 2008 Shiraz at £31 from the hotel’s extensive wine cellar which holds over 200 bottles from around the world. The menu, of classic Cumbrian dishes using
local produce, is impressive and featured a mouthwatering starter of english asparagus with hollandaise sauce presented in a small copper pot and main course Cumbrian Galloway sirloin steak, cooked to perfection and served with confit tomato, field mushrooms and hand cut chips. Each mouthful underlined our decision that this visit would not be our last. This was a dining experience we won’t forget in a hurry.
The dessert menu was filled with a delicious selection of poached pear and wild strawberry and chocolate mocha parfait.
After dinner we took our Kir Royals to the conservatory to admire the moonlit lake as the resident pianist played into the night.
After a tranquil sleep and a full English breakfast, which is served until 11am, we boarded one of four steam driven cruise boats, complete
with a bar, at Lakeside jetty for a 45-minute ride to the holiday town of Bowness whose attractions include the World of Beatrix Potter.
Windermere Cruises can be traced back to Victorian times when they carried more than 1.24 million visitors each year across the lake and captured the hearts of former residents – William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome author of children’s book Swallows and Amazons.
As the steamer gently glided across the water we were treated to some of the most amazing scenery in this part of the world.
We hopped off at Bowness for lunch in the holiday town and a stroll around its many quaint shops and galleries before continuing our trip to Ambleside where we enjoyed afternoon tea at renowned food lover’s paradise ‘Lucy’s’.
After a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing day we decided to dine at the more relaxed Ruskin’s Brasserie and enjoyed a simple but pleasant cod and chips and sirloin steak in a bright and contemporary restaurant.
On our last morning we were given the task of feeding the dozens of mallards and swans who gather on the lawn for bread.
With so many attractions on offer from hillwalking to the Lakeland Motor Museum, Lakeland Miniature Village, Hawkshead and the option to ride the hotel’s two electric bicycles, we were spoilt for choice and have already made plans to return for a longer visit.
From the moment we arrived to the minute we left, our stay was perfect. Nothing was too much trouble and we left feeling refreshed.