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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
  • Get to the point
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

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - OTE £36,000

    £12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Wakefield Deal...

    Guru Careers: .NET Developers / Software Developers

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: our .NET Developers / Software Dev...

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

    War with Isis

    Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
    Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

    A spring in your step?

    Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

    Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
    Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

    Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

    For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
    Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

    Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

    As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
    The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

    UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

    Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

    Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
    Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

    Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

    If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
    10 best compact cameras

    A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

    If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
    Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

    Paul Scholes column

    Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
    Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
    Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?