But time-poor Londoners or those with children shouldn’t discount the Lakes, especially now Oxenholme is a mere two and a half hours from the capital via the West Coast Main Line. A weekend in the middle of nowhere can be just what’s needed to perk up both mind and body.
The Lake House at Gilpin Lodge fits the bill exactly. It is set in 100 acres of private land, a mile from the main hotel (which is already pretty secluded), creating an atmosphere of utter solitude and tranquillity. If you want to get away from absolutely everything, this is the place for you.
In a previous life, the owner’s family used it as a holiday home and the cosy family atmosphere remains. Below the bedrooms is an open-plan kitchen, dining room and lounge, adding to the feeling of homeliness.
The Lake House’s focus is very much relaxation. If you want adrenaline, look elsewhere. There is a lake. There is a pool. There is a hot tub. And that is about it, really. Our main activities focused on eating, taking short walks and lying around looking forward to eating more.
I took the advice of the owner and walked up to the viewing point, fending off sheep as I went, and was rewarded with views across the Lake District, right down to Morecambe Bay.
As a reward for my exertion, I took in afternoon tea (delicious), after which my guest worked off the cakes and sandwiches with a bracing row around the lake, frightening several ducks on the way. The scene was so picturesque, it would have been made complete had he been reading aloud from a book of romantic poetry. I, meanwhile, relaxed in the hot tub.
Dinner is served in the main hotel, a 15-minute drive from the Lake House down a narrow country lane. Having worked up an appetite, we opted for the five course menu. My soup was brought to the table with its own pestle and I was tasked with grinding my own spices. This was followed with a truly excellent 28-day-aged steak; one of the finest I’ve ever tasted. Coffee was served in the sprawling lounge.
Bedrooms are named after long-gone family members and are in keeping with the homely style, although the multi-continental collection of furniture and nicknacks won’t be to everyone’s taste. The shower was a welcome relief from my non-pressurised London dribble, and my skin appreciated a break from being washed in recycled limescale. Sleep was punctuated by nothing more than my guest’s snores, shrouded as we were in darkness and silence.
The Lake House doesn’t have a spa as such, so treatments take place in your room. I had the chocolate body wrap, where I was covered in sticky goop before being wrapped up to let it go to work. After a long shower, I was finally clean and my skin glowing. My partner opted for the Indian head massage, which must have been relaxing, because he was soon snoring quietly on the massage table.
We finished off our weekend with a meal in the Brown Horse, a country stroll away through stunning scenery. Expecting a run of the mill country pub, we were rewarded with home-grown, organic fare set in a convivial atmosphere. Everything, from the pigs which snort happily out the back before they make their way to your plate, to the beer, is produced on-site or locally sourced. What’s more, all of this can be enjoyed without the vaguest hint of a Hoxton hipster. A relaxing end to a tranquil weekend.
NEED TO KNOW
■ Dinner, bed and breakfast in the Gilpin Lake House costs from £500 per night
■ The West Coast Main Line runs from London Euston to Oxenholme in two and a half hours.
■ For more information log on to gilpinlodge.co.uk.