Short Breaks - Gilpin Lodge, Windermere
PUBLISHED: 00:16 21 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:32 20 February 2013
There are some hotels that do everything right and Gilpin Lodge, which features in a TV documentary this month, is one of them, reveals Janet Reeder.
OK. At first we were mystified, when we announced ourselves at the main Gilpin Lodge Hotel and were told wed be staying in the Lake House. This, it turned out, had been the former home of the Cunliffe family, who run this Relais & Chateaux hotel with the kind of relaxed informality that makes you feel like you are close family friend. (Indeed Rory McGrath liked it so much it will feature on his ITV series about the Lake District this month).
The Lake House is new-ish addition to this hideaway hotel, close to Windermere and comes complete with its own tarn, which froze over in a spectacularly beautiful manner on our visit.
After a wonderfully warm welcome from head housekeeper Paula and her assistant Rita, we had coffee and cakes in our comfortable suite, (though to vary things a bit, the next afternoon, we took tea in the drawing room with views over the lake) and then sipped champagne before getting ready for the night ahead.
Oh and what great fun going for dinner is! A car was ready at 7.45 to whisk us back up the lane and to the Gilpin for a delightful five course dining experience, created by head Chef Russell Plowman.
Now country house dining can be a bit formal but I honestly feel like I cant rave about dinner at the Gilpin enough. The restaurant has a large bar, where you can sit with a glass of fizz, perusing the menu and of course, it has to be done, the other guests!
The restaurant is split up into smaller rooms, so if you stay for a few nights, its like having a different dining experience. Each is decorated in its unique way but simply elegant and lovely, with flickering candlelight, beautiful flowers and lots of style.
We opted to let the sommelier Eduardo match wines to our courses both nights we stayed, which added to the experience, as the staff here really do know their stuff.
Highlights included, well almost everything but special favourites were, an artichoke salad with delicious woody and complex flavours in tiny mouthfuls, the perfect souffl flavoured with the tang of blue cheese and a perfectly paired fillet of beef and braised oxtail. Theres thought in every dish. Night two, partridge was on the menu, the exact right thing for a snowy winters night. There are amuses bouches pre-desserts and petit fours that make you promise to yourself you will take a long walk before dinner, honestly!
Then its back to the Lake House by pre-arranged car for a night in one of the most comfortable beds ever, maybe taking a nightcap from the well-stocked bar.
Both mornings we roamed around the lakeside and explored the grounds, which had been covered with snow overnight to our delight and that was before breakfast! We were told by John Cunliffe, the owner, who is very hands-on and a totally gracious host, that many people opt to hang out all day in Lake House, wandering, having in-house treatments and relaxing in the hot tub which looks out across the water, only surfacing for dinner. So utterly romantic.
Gilpin is really all about impeccable attention to detail, great service and making you feel that you are truly away from everything and two nights were massively restorative as a result of this. It isnt cheap, but then lets face it, really great things rarely are.