24-Hour Room Service: Gilpin Lodge, Lake District

You can't swing a Wellington boot in the Lake District without hitting a country house hotel. With a rival at the turn of every country lane, hotels always have to raise their game – a wing refurbished here, a new spa there – if they're going to keep up with the competition. A shining example of this is Gilpin Lodge, which steps up to the challenge with aplomb.

My weekend started badly when, 20 minutes outside London, we got stuck behind an overturned lorry and sat still for two and a half hours. I rang the hotel to say we wouldn't arrive until after midnight and would certainly miss dinner. No trouble: they'd leave sandwiches and wine in our room. The road then cleared and we arrived in time for a late dinner. The staff took all this in their stride and could not have been more accommodating – a common theme at this charming, cosy hotel. Family-owned and run, the lodge originally belonged to Great Grandma Cunliffe, who bought it in 1917 and lived in it as a private home.

It was turned into a hotel by John and Christine Cunliffe 70 years later and is now run by their son Barney, leaving his mother free to indulge in her passion for the interior décor. The latest string in their bow is the Lake House, which opened in September last year. It was lit by gas lanterns until the Eighties but has now been turned into a luxurious little bolthole with six suites (to add to the Lodge's 20) overlooking a private lake set within the sprawling grounds.

This new addition is designed to feel a little more private and exclusive than the main hotel, with a maximum of 10 other guests for company. Inside, the design echoes the Lodge. It is contemporary without being modern; an English country feel is retained through natural, earthy colours. As always, the driving principle is comfort, so lighting is soft, shelves are full of good books and sofas are deep and plentiful. The idea is that this is a home away from home. As you enter the hallway, there is a wicker basket full of umbrellas, a lovely old-fashioned sideboard, a gentleman's desk and chair and heaving log baskets.

Carry on into the drawing room and you'll find other guests sitting on the sofa, reading the paper and looking quite at home. Both breakfast and afternoon tea are served in the conservatory overlooking the woods and you can see the chef pottering away in the open kitchen next door.

At this time of year, there's also the chance to swim in the Lake House's indoor pool, soak in the outdoor hot tub overlooking the lake, have a spa treatment in your room, or go rowing on the lake. In the evening, a chauffeur will take you three minutes up the road to the Lodge for a five-course dinner.

I was a little apprehensive, fearing it would be too fussy and full of amuse-bouches. In fact the food is first class. Chef Russell Plowman cut his teeth under Alain Roux (at The Waterside Inn in Bray) and Alan Murchison. This is his first gig as head chef but his mix of simple (roast chicken and bread sauce) and sophisticated (three cuts of local lamb – roasted, braised and as sweetbreads) dishes works beautifully. Added flair comes from the odd unusual addition such as plum crumble soufflé: you cut the slightly crunchy, crumbly soufflé open and pour the hot plum sauce inside – delicious.

Location

Situated in the southern Lake District, the hotel is two miles from Lake Windermere, but the immediate countryside is no less spectacular. Rooms have views over hills and woodland up to the often snow-capped Hargill Mountains to the east and, on clear days, all the way to Morecambe Bay to the south.

Nearby, Wray Castle was built as a private house in 1840 (and rented by Beatrix Potter and her family as a holiday home in 1882), it is now owned by the National Trust; the grounds are magnificent and run right down to the shores of Lake Windermere. Closer to home you can wander down the lane to the Brown Horse for good food and local ales. Or do nothing: until summer, most guests do exactly that.

Comfort

Much like the main hotel, each of the Lake House's six suites is decorated quite differently. Ours, Gertie (all six are named after the owners' Victorian great aunts), had an elegant country house feel, with gold wallpaper covered in white blossom, white armchairs with footstools and antique-style furniture. The bed was superbly comfortable and, combined with lots of lamps and sloping ceilings, this was a cosy haven.

Personal touches such as framed photos of the ancestors and family china on the dressing table reaffirmed the familial feeling. Of the other suites, Adgie is the lightest with pale grey walls and a grey button back headboard, plus its own patio on to the garden. Beatrice and Maud are more colourful with pinks and reds introduced to the otherwise muted palette; and while Ethel is the smallest, it has a wonderful lake view.

Gilpin Lodge Lake House, Crook Road, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3NE (015394 88818; gilpinlodge.co.uk)

Rooms 4 stars
Value 5 stars
Service 5 stars

Double rooms start at £490, half board.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Extras
indybest 9 best steam generator irons
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering