There are a number of ways to enjoy the Lake District from youth hostels to B&Bs. And then there’s the stylish and sophisticated hotels that offer the little extra luxuries that will make your trip super memorable.
I chose to stay in the latter – and have found the best in class, in my opinion.
I stayed in my favourite part of the Lakes, Ambleside, and now my favourite boutique hotel, the Waterhead.
With ample free parking and a lovely warm welcome at reception, I had a really great feeling about this trip.
And then I knew it was going to be a break to beat all others when the welcome table (not just a tray at the Waterhead) in our Luxury Lake View Room contained Bedrock Gin and Fever-Tree Tonic, Dormen mixed nuts and jelly beans, Teapigs tea and Grasmere Gingerbread.
And White Company toiletries plus a luxury turndown of chocolates, pillow spray and mini tube of moisturiser pushed the luxury stakes right up there.
The hotel really has thought of everything to make sure you’re break is unbeatable – even down to a collection of DVDs at reception in case you fancy a movie night after a long walk. And with free wi-fi around the hotel and in the bedrooms, you can stay as connected to the outside world as you wish.
After we’d checked in, we ambled into the town centre to check out the area. With everything from quirky lakeland shops to great bars and eateries, there was more than enough to keep us entertained for quite a few days.
I was eager to get back to the hotel bedroom with its amazing lake view to enjoy the complimentary G&T before dinner in The Bar and Grill Restaurant.
You’d struggle to find a better appointed restaurant with views across Windermere and a lovely ambience with tables far apart enough from each other to ensure privacy yet with a buzz of a friendly, comfortable environment.
My partner and I could have eaten everything on the menu but decided to share starters of fillet of beef carpaccio, served with fresh rocket, Parmesan shavings and balsamic glaze and breaded hen’s egg with a Parmesan crisp, carrot mustard purée and pea shoots. Both were delicious and the Parmesan crisp was just divine.
Fish dishes followed for mains with roasted cod loin served with crushed new potatoes, buttered fine beans, cherry tomatoes and dill Hollandaise and pan seared salmon fillet rösti potato, buttered spinach with shallots, charred asparagus spears, mussel & saffron cream.
A dessert of tiramisu and espresso ice cream was amazing but bettered only slightly by the dark chocolate fondue served with strawberries, marshmallows, chocolate brownie and homemade fudge.
Not wanting the night to end, we took a digestif out to the garden terrace and enjoyed the beautiful balmy evening.
After a blissfully relaxing night, we were ready for breakfast and were more than impressed with the creamy porridge – and the bottle of Bells whisky by its side so you could add a dram to set you up for the day.
From a full English to eggs Benedict, the breakfast choices were plentiful. After the perfect porridge, a couple of poached eggs on toast did the trick for us.
Wanting to make the most of the beautiful weather and the gorgeous garden terrace, we took a cuppa outside and took advantage of the hotel’s folder of walks to decide on our day’s activity.
We’d already agreed to keep our day of walking on a low-level, leaving hills to those with better knees. So we set off to Wray Castle, a Victorian neo-gothic building which has belonged to the National Trust since 1929 but which has only recently opened to the public on a regular basis. Well worth a visit.
We then continued towards Bowness, which involved a lovely 10-minute ferry ride.
A pit-stop for a pint then we agreed we had another 90 minutes left in us to walk back to Ambleside via Windermere.
We hadn’t quite banked on a six-hour day but 25 kilometres and 40,000 steps later, we’d had a cracking day buoyed by beautiful, sunny weather.
So the garden terrace was again a welcome vista as we enjoyed a gin from the hotel’s 40 gin infusion selection from around the world.
The next and final day of our visit, we took up the offer of complimentary use of the health club at nearby Low Wood Bay, Windermere.
An hour in the state-of-the-art gym was worth the pain as we then spent a further hour in the Jacuzzi, Infrared sauna and steam room interspersed with a couple of laps in the 50-foot pool.
Our two-day break was indeed very active but we felt totally invigorated and more relaxed than if we’d had a week in an overseas resort. And with less than two hours to kill in the car to get us back to the North East, we were already planning our next stay at Waterhead.