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RECOMMENDATION | Heaven is a Lake House in The Lake District

By Lyndsey Thomas | 30th September 2018

Celebrating 10 years of marriage at The Gilpin Lake House in Windermere Mr T and I loll lazily on the two identical wooden Muskoka chairs that sit on the wooden jetty looking out over the Gilpin Lake House’s very own private lake.


The sun beats down on us and the sound of the birds singing is all that we can hear. Every now and then, a shipshape little wooden rowing boat that is tied to one of the jetty’s wooden pillars with a perfectly tied reef knot nudges the side of the jetty and a little jolt politely interrupts the reverie. I daydream – how terribly terrific it would be to own our own Lake House just like The Gilpin and spend long hot summers here with family and friends.


We could have jumped in that pristine little rowing boat and Mr T could have rowed us both around the idyllic little lake at The Gilpin Lake House in The Lake District. The lake that we had entirely to ourselves that day. But that would have been far too wearing. So we stayed put on that jetty for a good few hours. We chatted, we read, we catnapped, we daydreamed, we sipped freshly squeezed orange juice delivered to us on a silver tray by one of the Lake House staff – well I did, Mr T knocked back a fair few bottles of local pale ale. We looked out over that lake and had to pinch ourselves quite a few times at the downright dreaminess of it all.


The tranquillity was shattered only by the sound of my high-pitched screech as I jump off the jetty and into the chilly waters of the lake. I swam for all of a couple of minutes in the lake’s fresh waters on which bright green lily pads float and colourful dragonflies skim.


After my short-lived swim I sprinted across the meticulously manicured lawn and jumped into the hot bubbling waters of the deck-sunken wooden hot tub. Celestial, it really was. Mr T wasn’t far behind.


A Dreamboat
The Gilpin Lake House is utterly dreamy on so many levels and our 10th anniversary weekend couldn’t have been anymore perfect. A member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux collection, The Lake House is tucked away in woodland at the bottom of a mile-long track on a country road not all that far from Lake Windermere.


Once the Cunliffe family’s home (they all still play an important role in running the hotel), it’s now part two of one of the Lake District’s most prestigious hotels – part one being The Gilpin Hotel which is located across the road from the top of that track, a mile from The Lake House.

Best of Both Worlds
I love a proper posh hotel – Mr T no so much. Extravagance doesn’t sit well with him. He’s a simple soul – never quite properly dressed. Always a stain somewhere, a button missing, his tie slightly off centre. He rocks the handsome-but-scruffy-and-never-properly-shaven-science-teacher-look. A look that doesn’t work in a pretentious environment of immaculately dressed hotel guests. I fuss and nag and rightly so. He gets irritated by my fussing and nagging and inevitably we end up bickering over his inability to try and look the part. Just for once.


And my apparent little show of ‘keeping up appearances’ winds him up just as much. So I am very careful about the hotels I select for our little child-free jaunts – nothing too big or too ostentatious. I don’t particularly like the large, luxury chains – we prefer smaller, boutique places to stay. Where luxury is defined by impeccable service and warmth rather than show and too much marble. The Gilpin Hotel & Lake House ticks the boxes.


The hotel is a 25-bedroom haven of calm, style and comfort. A champagne bar, walk-in wine cellars, and Michelin-star fine-dining. No small children, no raucous weddings and no dreary conferences ensure that the peace and tranquillity of this ‘Rolls Royce’ hotel is not disturbed.


Hotel Versus Lake House
I made the decision to stay at The Gilpin Lake House for our three-night stay in The Lakes. I was drawn to its private lakeside setting, dreamy country-house vibes and with only six guest rooms in a property that occupied such extensive grounds, I hoped that we would be blessed with the feeling of having the place all to ourselves. With the staff on hand to tender to our every whim.


I also loved the idea of Mr T and I being whisked up the road on an evening by our chauffeur in a shiny black top-of-the-range Range Rover Sport to dine at The Gilpin Hotel’s restaurants where, dressed in our finery, we would dine (and people watch) alongside The Gilpin Hotel’s well-healed guests.


It all sounded so perfect. And it was. And then some.


Grand Arrival
The gravel crunched under the wheels of our bright red Morgan Classic as we drove through the grand electronic gates and up the long, sweeping drive.


We were greeted at the entrance by three of The Lake House staff as we pulled up, top down, outside the large country estate. Sun shining, birds tweeting, blue skies, country house, staff, classic car, our own lake on four acres of grounds made up of immaculate lawns, woodland walks, a kitchen garden and breathtaking panoramic views over Lake District mountain ranges – it’s the stuff of English dreams.


Once we had been given the grand tour of the house and grounds, we were escorted up the imposing, sweeping staircase that takes centre stage in the entrance hall.


We opened our bedroom door to champagne on ice, an enormous mahogany bed made up with crisp, white Egyptian cotton bed linen, antique furniture, a spacious seating area under the window that looked out over the lake, and a huge bathroom with fluffy robes, and slippers and beautiful, bespoke smellies made from lemongrass and Rosewater – products used in the resident spa called The Jetty. A huge TV, fully-stocked mini-bar, luxury teas and coffee tray, and a selection books and magazines also greeted us. Everything that one needs for a relaxing long weekend in The Lakes.


A secluded gazebo, a sauna deep in the woods, a second hot tub overlooking the Lake District mountain range, a lakeside snug and that jetty over the lake – the Glipin Lake House has made a point of creating a special place for each of its guests. There is somewhere for every guest to escape to read, to relax, to unwind and to enjoy.


There is also a good size indoor swimming pool for the more energetic.

Dining at Michelin Starred HRiSHi
Food is at the heart of all the best memories and food is certainly at the heart of The Gilpin. We celebrated 10 years of marriage in HRiSHi. After a selection of exquisite canapés, I dined on hand-dived scallops and Exmoor British Caviar, 24hr cooked lamb shoulder for main and Raspberry Soufflé with pistachio ice-cream for dessert. As one would expect from a Michelin Star restaurant, it was all exquisite. Presentation, taste, service – classical cooking using only the best local ingredients. It was nothing short of faultless.


Dining at Gilpin Spice
But the jewel in the Gilpin culinary crown is Gilpin Spice – the second in-house restaurant at The Gipin Hotel – an environment that feels completely out of place in the Lake District. Let’s face it, The Lakes are not short of a Michelin Star restaurant or two. There are plenty of them and plenty trying desperately to nail a star.


Gilpin Spice, especially on a sun-filled day, transports its guests from traditional middle England to exotic Asia for lunch or dinner. This is big city-style dining in the middle of the English countryside and it adds serious WOW factor to a hotel that already exceeds expectations.


The laid-back eatery has an open kitchen and serves up delicious tapas-style pan-Asian dishes inspired by countries along the spice trail. Small plates of food representing The Philippines The Indian sub-continent, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan and China.


The rich, decadent, Asian inspired colour-popping decor is a world away from the play-it-safe decor of HRiSHi, and probably every other fine dining restaurant in The Lakes and the salt aged smoke Lamb Kheema was, by far, the best Kheema I have ever had the pleasure of eating.


Breakfast is worth rising for
You won’t want to sleep in and miss this either! The breakfast room at The Lake House overlooks the lake and as expected, it’s a belt-busting delicious start to the day.


All great things come to an end and our incredible weekend at The Gilpin was no exception. The Gilpin will always have a special place in my heart, and until I can afford my own Lake House, we will almost certainly be back year on year to celebrate each and every anniversary. It really is that special.

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