Hotel of the week: Linthwaite House

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The Independent Travel
Where is it?

On the outskirts of Bowness, in the heart of the Lake District. Address: The Linthwaite House Hotel and Restaurant, Crook Road, Windermere, Cumbria LA23 3JA (tel: 015394 88600; fax: 015394 88601; e-mail: admin@linthwaite.com)

What's it like?

A small, smart country-house hotel, set in 14 acres of gardens and woods, which manages to feel cosy. It's on a hill overlooking Lake Windermere, so visitors are inevitably drawn to the terrace on arrival to admire the terrific views. Inside, the hall centres on a fireplace and is arranged with comfy chairs, antique furniture, old books and bric-a-brac. This style extends into the bar and communal areas beyond - you could easily imagine spending hours curled up on a sofa in the sitting-room reading the Sunday papers.

Ambience?

Despite the obvious effort to create a relaxed atmosphere, it can't help but feel a little on the formal side.

Service?

Very friendly and efficient with a professional air. Staff seem to want to make guests feel nothing is too much trouble - and usually succeed.

Rooms?

We stayed in a de luxe room with a view of the lake. While the room felt a bit on the small side it was tastefully decorated with attractive furnishings and heavy fabrics. And the bed, which dominated the room, was exceptionally comfortable. Nice touches include the sheets being turned back during dinner, bottles of mineral water on the bedside tables and Molton Brown goodies in the bathroom. All rooms have en suite bathrooms and terrestrial and satellite TV and one has grade three disabled facilities. An extension was being built when we visited, taking the number of rooms from18 to 26. Among extras such as CD players, these new rooms also have a second phone jack for laptops. De luxe rooms cost from pounds 89 per person per night including dinner, and autumn/winter breaks cost from pounds 59 per person per night, including dinner.

Food?

Once you've eaten in the hotel restaurant you won't want to bother trying anywhere else in the area. The food is delicious and beautifully presented British fare, and it's no surprise that chef Ian Bravey, who began his career working with Robert Carrier, has gained recommendations from Michelin and two AA rosettes among other accolades. Four-course dinner with canapes, cafetiere of coffee and petits fours is pounds 35.

History?

Built in the early 1900s, the Linthwaite was a private house before being turned into a small hotel. Current owner Mike Bevans took over in 1991, enlisting the design talents of Amanda Rosa, who was also behind Malmaison.

Clientele?

Apparently, the hotel is becoming increasingly popular with business people - hence the jacks for laptops - but on the weekend we visited it was dominated by couples treating themselves to romantic breaks. The lack of walking boots at breakfast confirmed that guests come here for the experience of staying in a nice hotel rather than as a convenient base for a bit of serious walking.

Things to do?

The hotel has its own trout-filled tarn where you can fly-fish or practise casting. There is also a croquet lawn and putting green, and mountain bikes can be hired. Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere and Coniston are some of the famous towns within easy reach. Boats regularly cross Lake Windermere between Bowness and Ambleside. Other attractions nearby include Wordsworth's Dove Cottage, Beatrix Potter's Hill Top, and Brantwood, Ruskin's home overlooking Coniston Water.

Alternatively, you could, of course, go for a walk.

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