THE old idea of Lake District hospitality is of floral-decorated B&Bs offering weak tea and a couple of cellophane-wrapped Jammie Dodgers after your long hike.
Go to stay at the Lake House at Gilpin Lodge, however, and the biggest problem is working up the resolve to leave its elegant surroundings to explore the fells.
Managed by two generations of the Cunliffe family, whose ownership of the building dates back to 1919, Gilpin Lodge has been established as one of England’s finest country house hotels for over two decades. The Lake House is its newest slice of lavish accommodation, a six-suite lodge set on a four-acre private lake. It simply exudes luxury.
To get there, it’s a two hour train ride from London to Oxenholme, from where the Lake House is a 20 minute drive.
As soon as you walk in, the hustle and bustle of London life seems a million miles away – it’s like walking through the wardrobe in one of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books. A transition made even easier by the champagne and melt-in-the-mouth homemade biscuits which are offered as soon as you arrive.
The only quandary is whether to have afternoon tea immediately, or after an amble around the grounds. We opted for a preliminary stroll, and a quick dip in the outdoor hot tub encountering no one but a solitary duck and the unusual statues dotted around, including a somewhat incongruous but magnificent gorilla.
It’s these kind of quirky touches that make the Lake House unique – like the interior décor – each beautiful suite has its own particular style – it’s individual and personal.
The Lake House also has its own spa, with large patio doors overlooking the lake front and jetty, a 30ft indoor pool and sauna, and there’s a range of treatments you can enjoy in the privacy of your room.
The food adds the magic additional touch – but be warned it’s best to leave a decent gap between the generous afternoon tea and the gorgeous five-course dinner – served in the Lodge a mile down the road.
The menu picks the very best from whatever is currently in season with a modern English twist providing distinct and delicious food.
But the real secret to the pleasure of escaping here is the staff – warm and friendly, without any of the stuffiness of many similar calibre hotels, they are the Lake House’s secret weapon. Nothing is too much trouble, allowing you to completely relax into the comfiest of surroundings.
Visit www.gilpinlodge.co.uk for more information.