A Lakeland Sojourn at the Lovely Linthwaite House
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With just 36 guest rooms at the Linthwaite House, Windermere, the arrival of 500 new residents might have proved a bit of a challenge. But within the grounds, the hotel's private tarn has easily accommodated the 500 trout, delivered safely to their watery home. Safe from ending up on a plate, too, as fly fishing here is strictly on a catch and release, basis. Hotel residents can also take one of two small rowing boats out on the tarn.
Set within 14 glorious, tranquil acres, the award-winning boutique, country house hotel has recently undergone a £10m refurbishment over 12 months, to include six new suites, a structural re-fit to create large, open spaces plus re-decoration and new soft furnishings.
My travel partner, Gill Hartley, from Blackpool, who was married at the Linthwaite House in 2005, retraces her steps during our stay. As it was snowing on her wedding day, she borrowed a pair of the hotel's collection of Hunter wellington boots to wear with her long dress for photos in the grounds.
Touches of African and South African influence, such as leopard and zebra-print fabrics, plus ornaments, paintings and wall art, which form part of the owner's personal collection, reflect the Leeu South African brand of the hotel. The brand also boasts hotels in South Africa.
Within the Linthwaite House grounds, two new cottages will offer privacy for romantic getaways. For the ultimate luxury, consider a suite with its own hot tub.
The majority of guests who stay at this country retreat are in the upper age group. Although there isn't a lift in the hotel, six ground floor rooms are available.
There are three, easy circular walks from the hotel, which features a giant, outdoor chess set, boules, croquet lawn and e-bicycles. Wide doorways enable wheelchair access and a buggy facility transports guests' luggage from the car park to the hotel.
Our comfortable bedroom is equipped with a pod coffee machine, selection of teas, shortbread biscuits, fluffy robes, Smart tv and Molton Brown bathroom toiletries. From the window, looking past the view over the terrace, we watch boats bobbing, Windermere Lake cruisers passing and yachts with sails fluttering in the breeze.
Canapes and amuse-bouches on the terrace or in the conservatory, precede dinner. Whenever I place my handbag on the floor beside me, as if by magic, a hotel team member brings across a small South African riempie chair for it to rest upon. A nice little service for all guests.
Our table in the Stella restaurant affords splendid views of the landscaped lawns, shrubs, bowers, flower beds, borders and the summer house which is set to be a spa and treatment room, with ramp access. My starter is a burst of colour on the plate. Sunshine yellow courgette flowers stuffed with Ricotta mousse and accompanied with a tomato and stone fruit salad are divine. Equally enjoyable is the stone bass main course with tomato and olive broth, fried capers, buttered greens and zucchini crisps. The delightful torta della nonna dessert tempts me to savour the fusion of lemon curd, pine nut popcorn and fresh strawberry - food of the gods! International celebrity chef and restaurateur, Ritu Dalmia, is the guiding force behind the menu and high standard cuisine, combining world-wide flavours and favourites with fresh Cumbrian ingredients.
The breakfast buffet table is a feast of fresh raspberries, strawberries, figs, kiwi fruit, nuts, seeds, yogurts, honey, pastries, breads and jams. The full English with a perfectly cooked poached egg, crisp bacon, sausage, grilled tomato and beans (no black pudding by request) is declared expertly prepared and presented. I wonder how baked beans have claimed a presence on a full English breakfast plate. It's a response to whatever the customer wants, I suppose! My scrambled egg with smoked salmon is sublime.
How appropriate to enjoy traditional afternoon tea at a quintessentially English residence, the 19th century Brockhole House.
Wonderfully inspired by the arts and crafts movement of the 1800s, this charming property still exudes the charm and elegance of a bygone era.
Brockhole House is set within 30 acres of beautiful grounds and gardens at Brockhole on Windermere. You can actually arrive by boat with Windermere Lake Cruises.
As we sit at a table by the window in the Garden Room of the Gaddum Restaurant savouring dainty sandwiches, warm scones with jam and fresh cream plus tiny cakes from a tiered stand, we imagine the Gaddum family crooking their little fingers as they held their bone china cups, taking mere tiny bites and morsels. Such refinement is rarely seen today.
The adjoining cafe provides a less formal eating option for families with children. Youngsters are in their element at the award-winning Brockhole adventure park. This award-winning attraction features a treetop trek, nets and zip wire. Helmets and bikes are available by the lakeshore, along with canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. Other fun activities include pony rides, mini golf, soft play, picnic areas, archery and woodland walks.
At the Boathouse restaurant in Windermere Marina Village, a few minutes south of Bowness-on-Windermere, from the terrace, you could almost jump into the lake. At a table upstairs, we peruse the menu while enjoying the view of the boats in the marina. The mackerel pâté is tasty and moreish, served with warm flatbread. Unsurprisingly, in this splashing location, fish is a speciality at the Boathouse, so this seems the appropriate choice for the main course. The pan-fried hake with sauté potatoes, crushed minted garden peas and chorizo butter is highly recommended. The ground floor area has more of a bar feel live music nights are popular here. The food is good and reasonably priced at this busy restaurant. It's dog and child friendly, too.
We return, happily, to the comfort and luxury of our 'Lakeland home' for two nights.
For a stay at the Linthwaite House, is akin to being pampered and cosseted in a very stylish, warm blanket.
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