Gilpin Hotel & Lake House
The epitome of a modern country-house hotel pimped up with a dash of bling. Gilpin Hotel & Lake House is firmly in the indulgent break category with private hot-tubs and saunas, Michelin-starred dining and legions of staff. Opt for one of the slick glass-and-wood stand-alone lodges for ultimate privacy.
- Helen Pickles, Destination Expert
On the eastern edge of the National Park, on the back road to Windermere, it doesn't have the typical Lake District views of fells and lakes but it does offer easy access: both the M6 and Oxenholme station are 20 to 30 minutes. Unless you plan to stay around the hotel – and many guests do – you'll need a car. Windermere lake and Bowness are three miles; attractions such as Beatrix Potter's house, pretty Hawkshead or Wordsworth's Dove Cottage at Grasmere, a further 30 minutes' drive.
Style and Character
The white-washed Edwardian house, set in 21 acres and a hotel since the mid-eighties, has been steadily, and boldly, extended. The main building, a series of quirkily shaped rooms, is lavish modern country-house: big sofas, soft colours, well-upholstered armchairs, elegant flowers and weighty lamps on polished tables. Scattered around the grounds is a striking two-storey slate building (former outhouses) with a metropolitan-smart second restaurant, Gilpin Spice; and around a dozen suites in modern Scandi-style or glass-and-wood lodges. A mile away, wrapped in 100 private acres, is the six-bedroom Lake House, a re-built fishing lodge overlooking its namesake. A mini country-house – all antiques and glittering silver – it comes with its own staff.
Service and Facilities
Goodness, you will want for nothing – except, possibly, a well-padded wallet. There are endless places to lounge around – books and newspapers at your elbow – several terraces, and a charming gazebo. Alpacas and llamas graze in the garden, the latter tinkling with streams and fish-stocked ponds. Maps and walking-routes can be borrowed while Lake House has a tiny spa (bespoke products) with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lake. Lake House guests, additionally, have hot tubs, saunas and an indoor pool. Service throughout balances professionalism with friendliness; nothing, it seems, is too much to ask. Dogs are allowed in two suites, £30 per night.
- Room service
The 31 rooms vary widely but are fanatical in their detail and comfort levels. Main-house rooms are contemporary country-house with soft palettes, bold-patterned wallpapers, piles of cushions and daring pops of colour in modern furniture. Books, pot plants, reading lights, homemade biscuits, and most with garden views, make them very restful. The separate garden suites and spa lodges offer all those touches, but turn up the privacy and designer levels. The former, with hot tubs, are open-plan and airy with a Scandi feel; the latter are chic, stand-alone glass-and-wood affairs with private spa facilities. The six large Lake House rooms offer ultimate privacy, and with their mix of family antiques and 1980s-style décor have a curious old-fashioned charm.
Food and Drink
The hotel has eschewed the classic Modern British or gastronomic tricks of other Lake District luxury hotels and brought in Asian and Indian themes, partly reflecting Cumbria's former spice trade, partly the Indian-born head chef. The principal restaurant, HRiSHi offers Michelin-starred cooking – three courses, £70, or eight-course taster menu £90 – with dishes such as stone bass with spiced lobster dumplings or Hyderabadi masala braised Cumbrian lamb; beautifully crafted with a phalanx of staff to pour sauces, remove crumbs and explain ingredients. The more relaxed Gilpin Spice is a colourful affair with an open kitchen and tapas-style dishes (average £9) such as octopus with ginger and garlic and Schezwan chicken pancake. Wines are hefty with most rising steeply from £40. Breakfast is a delight, from freshly squeezed orange juice to flower-decorated egg dishes, Welsh rarebit and a punchy full Cumbrian.
Value for Money
Double rooms from £245 in low season; and from £285 in high. Breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi.
Access for guests with disabilities?
Not very suitable as it's a hilly site, although one garden suite has some adaptations.
Minimum age seven years. Extra beds cost £70, including breakfast. If Lake House is taken for exclusive use, there are no age restrictions.