The Lake District is rightly famed for its unparalleled views and romantic landscape making it one of the most beautiful places to visit in England. Here are just a few comments from articles that have been written in the press about Linthwaite Country House Hotel
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This country-house hotel sets out its stall at the threshold, where there are croquet mallets and Hunter wellies to borrow. The huge, palm-filled conservatory and terrace have killer views over Windermere… The food is proudly unstuffy modern British, and so good that you’ll retire to one of the 30 soothing, well-designed rooms perfectly content. They call a spade a spade in these parts – hence Cosy rooms, View rooms and Best rooms.
Set in 13 acres of gardens and grounds, with hillside views of Lake Windermere, Linthwaite House offers gourmet cuisine to match its fashionably designed, contemporary furnished accommodation.
Linthwaite continues to be garlanded with distinctions and awards. The coveted four AA red stars for accommodation and three AA Rosettes for the restaurant make it one of the leading luxury hotels in the area. Not surprising, Conde Nast Johansens granted it the ‘Most Excellent Country House Hotel” award.
More recently, Linthwaite has won the Cumbria Life 2015 award for Best Hotel Restaurant. This is a fitting tribute to Head Chef Chris O’Callaghan, his brigade in the kitchen, and the front of house team.
Chris, who came to Linthwaite in April 2012 from the Michelin starred Paris House, part of the Alan Murchison stable of L’Ortolan, Le Becasse and The Angel in which he spent nine years of his early career. He has had three years to develop his style of cooking. In talking to Fine Dining Guide, he stressed his style had become much simpler. Initially, he was out to prove a point which led to complicated, over wrought dishes. The emphasis now is on clean tastes and tidy presentation. Achieving a perfect custard tart on his dinner menu, for instance, is more important than over-elaborate desserts.
However, simple does not mean easy, hence alongside classical skills Chris has embraced current technical wizardry. Menu descriptions give no idea of the techniques used to enhance his dishes. Chris enjoys the freedom being Head Chef has given him. Creativity there is in abundance: consider, for instance, gin cured salmon, lemon purée, and tonic sorbet, or roasted Cod, cavolo nero purée, hazelnut orzo, artichoke, and prune on the dinner menu. Combinations of ingredients are sometimes unusual but always compatible.
Chris’ passion for seasonal British produce continues. Developing good relationships with top regional suppliers guarantees quality supplies. In line with the restaurant’s excellent reputation for its cheeseboard – Linthwaite has been previously won the Cheeseboard of the Year competition – he works closely with John Natlacen of Churchmouse Cheeses in Kirkby Lonsdale, the “Best Independent Cheese Shop of Great Britain”.
With a brigade of up to nine, Chris took pride in his recruitment policy, given the difficulty in attracting and keeping young staff. His links with the local college, facilitating the training of students for Level 4 NVQs, has resulted in two ex-porters now running sections in his kitchen.
Chris commented that the recent Cumbria Life award has helped boost covers at lunch. Although the priority of his kitchen is to please the guest, regardless of price or awards, he accepted that the attractive price point, £14.95 for two courses, £19.95 for three, helped to build up a client base who will return for dinner. Currently, some 80% of guests for dinner are residents.
Menu alternatives are three in each course for lunch and double that number for dinner, (plus a special each night). Dinner costs £52 whilst a tasting menu – a feature Chris introduced – is also available at dinner for an additional £10. These prices compare very favourably with the local competition.
A diversified, award winning wine list with plenty of Old and New Worlds – includes many vintages which match the food.
Although they lack lake views, the three dining rooms – one of which is small enough for private dining – have decorative mirrors, prints, semi abstract landscape photos and antiques which gain the attention of diners. In the main room, colours, textures and patterns are inspired by nature in a style described as “Raffles-meets-Ralph-Lauren.” Green, pearl and taupe are the predominant shades, balancing the fumed oak and solid wood floors. Banquette and contemporary dining chairs, in a variety of fabrics and patterns are supremely comfortable. Lighting varies from spotlights on tables to bespoke large pendant lamps, giving a background glow at a high level
Drinks in the spacious conservatory lounge, with roaring log fire, preceded a Saturday lunch in late March.
Delicious homemade breads – wild garlic focaccia, white and wholemeal augured well for the dishes to follow.
A starter of smoked salmon mousse was smooth and well balanced. Topped with salmon eggs, the gentle saltiness of which acted as a seasoning, it was dressed with crispy skin which added texture and crispy capers which helped to cut the richness of the mousse. The clean tastes and uncluttered presentation made this a delightful first course.
Equally accomplished was a generous cylinder of ballotine of wild rabbit. Flecked with herbs and well-seasoned, it was suitably moist with a light, gamey flavour. A chutney of butternut squash and cumin added sweet and spicy notes which worked well with the more subtle taste of the rabbit. Crisp seeded puff pastry wheels provided the necessary contrasting texture to this attractively presented dish.
A main course of accurately timed guinea fowl breast was elevated to stellar heights by a seasoning of pesto, hazelnuts and black fermented garlic. Tiny cubes of white balsamic jelly added a counterbalancing sweetness and marjoram gnocchi gave the dish a herbal lift. A rich madeira reduction brought the elements together in this innovative composition, embracing both classic and contemporary techniques.
The most inventive dish was a main course of roasted cod, the soft, translucent flakes of which glistened under shards of crispy skin anointed with nodules of lemon puree. Accompanied by quinoa which gave a contrasting firmer texture, the plate was finished with a flourish of roasted aubergine puree and balls of apple and sage. Visually stunning, with imaginative combination of ingredients that worked well together, this dish typified the attention to detail given to what, in essence, was a simple dish.
Desserts continued to show the versatility of the kitchen
A supremely light vanilla cheesecake came topped with an intense mango gel. A puree of mango and a quenelle of its sorbet piped with white chocolate completed this elegant, refreshing dessert.
Finally, an indulgent dessert featured rich but light salted dark chocolate mousse and a novel hazelnut aero. Orange ice cream provided a harmonious flavour combination and poppy seed Madeleine gave contrasting texture.
Overall, this was a most accomplished lunch made more pleasurable by the knowledgeable, attentive but unobtrusive service. Having enjoyed two previous meals at Linthwaite, this exceeded our already high expectations. Clearly, Chris O’Callaghan and his team deserve the acclaim they have already achieved and have the potential to go even further developing their adventurous cuisine.
Top 10: the best hotel views in England
What I like about Linthwaite is the carved mahogany fireplace with crackling fire in the hall, the unflashy sitting rooms, the wraparound conservatory with wonderful lake views, the gently sloping grounds. My favourite detail? The original doors on the gents and ladies loos, with their brass vacant/occupied plates.
The kitchen has a wall of windows, so that the first thing you see when you arrive at the hotel is the chefs beavering away at your dinner. And a very good dinner it is, too. Really, the food in country-house hotels is often superb. Of course it should be – they are expensive – but it’s good that I rarely hear complaints, only praise, on that score. It’s ambience and service that are more likely to be in question. Not here. Not the service. Not with Andy and Mike Bevans, owner for the past 25 years, at the helm. Andy knows the names of all his guests and they are beautifully looked after.
If you’re holidaying in the Lake District, you can reasonably expect breathtaking views around every corner. When His & Hers made the journey from Liverpool, the scenic drive was pleasingly but unsurprisingly easy on the eye. However, as we neared Linthwaite House, which is set in seven acres of hilltop grounds overlooking Lake Windermere, we were greeted with a vista so stunning that we stopped in our tracks.
My travel companion parked up outside the hotel and led the way to the hotel’s terrace where all conversation stopped as we gazed in awe at our surroundings. Eventually the winter chill motivated us to stroll towards the hotel, which we did while occasionally looking back over the hills and muttering “my word – those views!”
Once inside the hotel, we were enveloped in the gentle warmth emanating from the real fire in the reception area. The beautifully presented period fireplace was the most welcome of sights on a chilly day. Leaving the fireside with a slightly regretful backward glance, we made our way to the reception desk, where we were greeted warmly and ushered into our room.
Although Linthwaite House has the period architecture and original features you’d expect of a country house hotel, every room has been given a sophisticated and subtly contemporary design scheme, with plenty of luxurious touches.
My travel companion was immediately won over by the stylish room design and the very indulgent bathroom, featuring a large bath and double shower. While he took in the bigger picture, I was quietly impressed with the chic robes and array of Molton Brown toiletries – perfect for grooming on the go.
Deciding to embrace a slower pace of life for our Lake District mini-break, we spent a happy hour or so reading the newspapers (something we never quite manage to find the time for at home). Then after dressing for dinner, we made our way downstairs to the hotel’s restaurant, which has been awarded 3 AA rosettes for food, ranking it in the top 150 restaurants in the UK.
My travel companion selected a starter of Venison tartar, confit egg yolk and wasabi mayonnaise, a main of Steak and kidney pudding, roasted sirloin, baked swede and cinnamon and one of Linthwaite’s famous cheeseboards for the dessert course. Describing this as his ideal menu, my companion paired his food with an apparently delicious glass of Malbec. His first two courses were impeccably cooked and were declared faultless and the selection of cheeses had clearly been very carefully considered, showcasing some fantastic local produce.
I chose the Duck leg terrine, smoked duck breast, quince and ginger bread as a starter, savouring every mouthful of this delicious dish, then made my choice from a selection of Linthwaite’s beautiful delicately flavoured fish dishes for my main course. For dessert, I pilfered some of my companion’s cheeses, so can vouch for their quality.
Having demolished what was declared one of our all time favourite dinners, we retired to the fireside for a drink of two before bed. After a thoroughly relaxing day, we began day two of our Lake District break at a leisurely pace, reading the Sunday papers before tucking into our delicious Linthwaite breakfasts. After a walk around the hotel’s ‘tarn’ (or small lake) we set out to tour the Lakes. The weather ay have been bracing, but it was a real privilege to enjoy a series of lakeside views without having to fight our way through the kind of crowds of sightseers that the Lake District can attract in the summer months. On the drive home we reflected that although we’d only stayed at Linthwaite for a mere one-night, making this the briefest of breaks, we felt as if we’d condensed a week’s worth of relaxation and indulgence into a few short hours.
Forgive me, but I feel a rush of superlatives coming on. However, as each and every one can be used ad infinitum to describe every moment of a stay at Linthwaite House, there’s never been a better excuse to come over all gushing.
Words by Kate Houghton
Linthwaite House is but a five minute drive from Bowness-on-Windermere, which makes it an easy drive from Cheshire. The drive itself (once you’ve exited the horrible M6, that is) is rather stunning, with the raw beauty of Lakeland filling the senses until you arrive, when you are immediately plunged into an idyll of country house luxury where nothing is left to chance.
We arrive in the middle of the afternoon, spot on for a cream tea in fact, so after being shown to our room (stunning, more on which later!) we immediately repaired to one of the very comfortable drawing rooms and enjoyed freshly baked scones with damson jam and clotted cream. Absolutely beautiful. Next, while I could easily have picked myself a lounger on the terrace outside, with its glorious view across to Lake Windermere, curiosity won out and we headed instead for a stroll around the private tarn within Linthwaite’s grounds.
It was at this point that we realised that the watch-words at this glorious place must be ‘attention-to-detail’, as every aspect of our stroll had been considered: wellies are available (Hunter, of course); the paths are regularly mowed, making it both easy to know where to go and keep feet dry, wellies or not; a petite summerhouse awaits half way along the lake edge, complete with chairs and blankets for weary walkers and a bench has been placed in the perfect spot for a breathtaking view along Lake Windermere. It’s the perfect walk for non-walkers – taking 20 minutes and leading straight back to the gorgeous hotel gardens and terrace, where aforementioned loungers await, accompanied by attentive staff bearing G&Ts, should the mood demand. And it did!
After a doze in the sunshine it was deemed time to move upstairs for a doze in the bath. The rooms at Linthwaite show the same attention to detail as everything else we’ve seen so far. Beautifully furnished, they wrap you in comfort, but with none of the stuffiness you often get at high end hotels. A soft feather quilt replaces stiff sheets, a comfy sofa the two hard chairs you usually find… and joy of joys, a Nespresso machine and selection of capsules. Add a bathroom filled with Molton Brown goodies and towels so thick they could carpet a lesser room and the job is done.
We should perhaps have been better prepared for the relaxed luxury we were about to experience, being as Linthwaite is part of the small but perfectly formed Unstuffy Hotel Company, which consists of just the one hotel, but pretty much sums up owner Mike Bevan’s approach, which is to deliver the ultimate chilled-out hotel experience for guests, which judging by the dazzling list of awards, and my own experience, is exactly what he and his team do.
Linthwaite House offers one of the finest dining rooms you’ll find anywhere, not only in the Lake District, where there is some considerable competition. Awarded three AA rosettes, Chef Chris O’Callaghan has created a menu that combines the best of local, seasonal ingredients with the imagination, creativity and ability of a talent that should be far better known.
Unable to make a single selection from the a la carte, we both chose the Tasting Menu… and disappeared into a culinary heaven I never wished to leave. The Tasting Menu mixes dishes from the a la carte menu with Chris’s personal selection for the day, which in our case included an amuse bouche of carrot and ginger soup that I could have drunk a vulgar bucket of, never mind a delicate shot glass. Smoked mackerel rillette, carpaccio of beef, sea bream with crab and courgette cannelloni and a roasted rump of Cumbrian lamb all followed, all perfectly matched with delicious wines and perfectly sized to ensure we were able to polish off every last morsel without feeling gluttonous.
Special mention must go to the final dish of all… Salted Chocolate Mousse with Kendal Mint Cake. You really can’t visit the Lakes without enjoying some of this traditional, original energy bar… and having it turned into the lightest of foams and laid alongside a rich, deep chocolate mousse, subtly studded with crystals of sea-salt, is perhaps the most perfect way to do it.
Linthwaite House is situated in the perfect position to enjoy the best the Lake District has to offer, and what better way to enjoy it than cruising the country lanes in a vintage car? Lancashire Classic Jaguar Hire has a fabulous collection of classic cars to choose from, and we went for the 1977 Beetle. Well, when I say ‘we’, I mean me, as my husband rather had his eye on an E-Type! I’ve always had a thing for Herbie though, so when a stunning cream Beetle pulled up in front of the hotel, my heart did a pitty-pat of pleasure.
Beautifully re-conditioned inside and out, our little ‘Ringo’ drew admiring glances wherever we went. We chose to cross over the Lake on the ferry, to Hawkshead, and felt positively papped by the number of people taking photos and asking about the car. We didn’t admit for one moment it wasn’t ours of course… we simply accepted the admiration as our due!
The Lake District isn’t so far away, and every time I go I wonder why I don’t visit more often. Now I have a very pressing reason to return… more of the unfussy, opposite of stuffy. luxury living that Linthwaite House offers. And Ringo of course… although I suspect the E-Type might win next time!
In the fast lane to my affections
With the key to a classic convertible, the deep throaty roar of the engine and the dramatic glacial landscape of the Lake District, Susan Barr is smitten.
Some rituals, when performed, can transport you through time and take you to forgotten places. For example, slipping vinyl out of its sleeve and on to the record player. Or the gentle winding of an old watch. Or the thump-thump-thump of the typewriter keys. First there is joy as memories come flooding back. Then there is a sad, wistful smile and contentment washes over us as as remember with affection the mountain of scrunched-up pieces of paper thrown wearily into the bin and crackly old record trundling around as the needle casually bobbed up and down.
So it was with the turning of the key in one car’s ignition. A convertible classic car in a gorgeous ruby red and sporting a tasty biscuit-coloured leather interior, Carmen was a cheeky little girl with one aim – to capture hearts. For those of a more practical nature, this was a fully restored 1971 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Cabriolet built on the same chassis as the much loved Beetle.
Carmen may not have power steering, but she did sport an electronic clock and built-in fog lights and this was the fastest production VW of its day, winning much appreciation among car enthusiasts.
Now it was time for Carmen to work her magic on me. I had arrived well prepared, armed with maps, picnic and headscarf (to avoid the Bridget Jones moment) and, after a brief formal introduction we were left unchaperoned.
Fortune was smiling on us. The sun was beaming through the clouds and Carmen’s roof was down, revealing the classic beauty in all her glory.
The rounded, smooth lines of the bodywork was a sharp contrast to modern aerodynamic lines designed to cut through the air and reduce fuel consumption. To rediscover the real joy of driving there had to be sacrifices and an extra visit to the petrol pump seemed a small price to pay.
I had planned a route, but it soon became apparent that Carmen was taking me on a very different journey. Even hours spent trudging around the muddy fields of classic car shows and admiring the old wrecks lovingly and painstakingly restored to their former glory had failed to prepare me for what lay ahead.
With the turn of the key, the deep, raspy engine fired into life. That was the moment I was transported back to my childhood and memories of our first family car – a light-blue Ford Anglia. It had none of the trappings of modern cars, but oozed character. Sometime just before the appearance of a wistful smile, I remember thinking ‘how on earth did we manage without power steering?’
Then I remembered the answer… and the finely honed arm muscles. The steering wheel was big but manageable, the brakes felt strange and the gear lever was tall and lanky, but Carmen was quirky, fun and fantastic to drive.
It was like rummaging in the back of your wardrobe and unearthing that old jumper your Auntie Jean knitted. You know it might not be the height of fashion and the design isn’t perfect. You may even have newer jumpers and warmer jumpers. But sometimes that old misshapen jumper just feels right.
Tentatively we ventured on to the roads of the Lake District. They were narrow and tortuous, flanked by old stone houses. Carmen effortlessly coasted round the bends, her compact chassis the perfect match for the winding streets. It was as though this little car had found her spiritual home.
Modern cars are a testament to advancements in engineering that have brought more gizmos than you can shake a stick at. As a classic car, Carmen had different attributes – poise, presence, personality and the ability to turn heads – that brought their own rewards.
She made friends with everyone. Tourists, farmers, shopkeepers and other motorists all admired this little bit of motoring history. Children waved and drivers waited patiently, giving the Karmann priory at junctions. Heading away from civilisation and deep into the dramatic glacial landscape, we were dwarfed by the hills along Kirkstone Pass that leads from Ullswater to Windermere. The car hugged the bends and the engine roared as it climbed, the sounds echoing through the valleys.
Arriving in Windermere, we headed for a well-earned rest at a luxurious country house hotel nestling high above the town with breathtaking views over the lake.
While Carmen sat soaking up the admiring glances from owners of luxury cars twice her size, I indulged in a spot of afternoon tea and a rest in a luxurious suite overlooking some of the sprawling 14 acres of well-manicured grounds.
The old-fashioned standards with the highest quality service combine with modern, well-equipped facilities to earn Linthwaite a fine reputation. Attention to detail really is everything, with staff providing service that is faultless. A particularly impressive touch with the turning-down of beds, with housekeeping leaving a personalised note giving the weather forecast for the following day. Ideal for walkers and those lucky enough to be venturing out in a cheeky little red car. There are even in-room spa treatments available for residents.
Linthwaite House is also the epitome of fine living and fine dining. Head chef Chris O’Callaghan brings a passion for eclectic British food and combines the best of local produce with exact culinary techniques.
It was the taste of luxury, quality and old-fashioned style… and, just like Carmen, the cause of much wistful smiling.
Hide away in a cosy inn, or treat yourself to a luxury night in a country hotel – here is our pick of the best places to say. By Ben Grafton
When it comes to places to stay in Cumbria, the region is abundant with traditional pubs and quirky hotels that are testament to the outgoing and welcoming nature of the locals. Most visitors come for the views and the chance to stroll through the Lake District’s verdant landscapes, marvelling at the crystal clear waters. For others the region is all about the gastro pubs offering hearty traditional fares and fruity local ales.
One of the region’s must-see sights is Hadrian’s Wall, the 1,900-year-old Roman construction, which runs 73 miles from Wallsend in the east of England to Bowness-in-Solway in Cumbria in the west. However, throughout Cumbria you’ll find so many sites that take you off-the-beaten-track, of the like that inspired the Lake poets, that you will quite literally be spoilt for choice, no matter where you stay.
Linthwaite House Hotel offers the best of the Lake District, with views of Windermere, the largest natural lake in England. The hotel’s 14 acres of private gardens make it the ideal place for a short break; accommodation is luxurious, with king-size beds, private balconies and hot tubs available in the Superior and Preferred rooms. The hotel is ideally situated for walking, hiking, cycling or touring this William Wordsworth country, and it is especially renowned for its quality of food; its three AA Rosettes put it in the top 150 restaurants in Britain. Roasted loin and braised shoulder of lamb, minted peas and chargrilled globe artichoke is a real highlight, while its vegetarian options are on par with anything else on the menu. Rooms from £95 (www.linthwaite.com)
In many ways, Linthwaite House, built in 1900 as a private home, is the perfect Lake District hotel: traditional yet also glamorous; professional but also warmly welcoming and deeply relaxing.
And the view over Lake Windermere… how can you beat it? Sometimes, when the sun slants across, it brings tears to the eye. Walk in to the hall, and you’ll find a carved mahogany fireplace with crackling fire, and beyond, unflashy sitting rooms and wrap-around conservatory with those mesmerising views. Outside in the wooded, gently sloping grounds there’s another – mini – lake with a secluded boathouse, perfect for an afternoon’s fishing. Back in the hotel, the glossy bar has a wall of tropical fish and the elegant dining room makes a fine setting for refined, delicious food. Linthwaite House has been privately and caringly owned for nearly 25 years. The bedrooms, two with hot tubs, are the last word in Lakeland luxury. This is a Lake District hotel that ticks all the boxes.
IN THE KNOW Linthwaite is close to Beatrix Potter’s ‘Hilltop’, Wordsworth’s homes and many other historic houses and gardens.
Best for… pampering and pregnancy
The Hotel: Situated in a picturesque location in the heart of the Cumbrian countryside, among the trees above the eastern shores of Lake Windermere, this bijou hotel offers luxury, tranquillity and breathtaking views of the region’s best-known lake. After a day of discovery, sightseeing and exploring the trails, walks and major heritage attractions nearby, relax and unwind with afternoon tea on the terrace – but be sure to save room for dinner at the award winning restaurant serving modern British produce. To make the most of your surroundings, opt for a Lake View Room with hot tub and savour the evening sunset from the steaming tub on your own private deck, with a glass of fizz to hand.
The spa: Guests have complimentary access to The Old England Spa, a fully equipped spa and fitness centre less than a mile away in Bowness-on-Windermere. Linthwaite also offers its own luxurious in-room treatments, including massage, facials and manicures. For the ultimate pregnant pause, expectant mothers past their first trimester should opt for the Thémaé Pregnancy Massage, an indulgent 75-minute treatment designed to alleviate tired muscles and improve circulation.
The stars: Victoria Wood, Steve Coogan, Sally Dynevor and Jonathan Edwards have all been spotted checking in to Linthwaite.
The detail: Rooms at Linthwaite start at £95 per person per night including breakfast. The Babymoon package starts from £234 per person per night, including breakfast, dinner, Herdy babygrow and the Thémaé Pregnancy Massage; visit linthwaite.com
The Lake District is an iconic destination that has been inspiring visitors for centuries. For those searching for luxury accommodation, fine dining with breathtaking views then Linthwaite House ticks all the boxes for a perfect break.
The hotel overlooks Lake Windermere with 14 acres of gardens, it has 30 bedrooms ranging from standard doubles to suites but all with luxury fixtures and fittings. The interior of the hotel oozes comfort and hospitality with friendly welcoming staff on hand to cater to ones every need. Our room for the night was The Junior Suite, complete with king size bed, walk-in shower, bath, separate lounge and nespresso coffee machine.
Linthwaite has built a serious reputation as a destination for foodies with chef Chris O’Callaghan gaining 3 AA Rosettes for food, putting it in the top 150 restaurants in the UK. After much deliberation, we decided to opt for the Tasting Menu tempted by a mouth watering array of dishes (there were seven in total) which included smoked venison carpaccio, with parsnip, blackberry and allerdale cheese, roasted duck breast confit leg, with celeriac and poached plum. Pudding included a salt dark chocolate mousse with a chocolate madeline and kendal mint cake. With food of this quality surely it can only be a matter of time before that all important Michelin star is awarded!
Attention to detail can be seen everywhere at the Linthwaite, providing a commitment to guest welfare with unrivalled luxury making it a unique and special stay.
“Another of the Lake District’s landmark hotels, this whitewashed manor was built as a private residence in the early 1900’s and still has the feel of a country house.
It’s the epitome of country elegance: antique trunks and armchairs in the lounge, burnished wood and hunting prints in the dining room, views across the croquet lawn from the conservatory. Rooms feel more modern than the rest of the house: insist on one with a lake view, or splash out n one of the indulgent hot-tub suites.”
“I’m not fond of Lakeland hotels as a breed – expensive and stodgy – but there are three around Windermere that make fine places to stay.
I’ve already reviewed Holbeck Ghyll and Relais & Châteaux Gilpin Lodge, so now for Linthwaite House, built in 1900 as a private home. If I were choosing for myself, this is probably the one that I would stay in.
But not, I have to say, for the glitzy new Loft Suite or the Hot Tub Suite or the “Raffles-meets-Ralph-Lauren” decoration in the bar and dining room – all shiny wallpapers and embossed velvet banquets – or for the oversized headboards in the bedrooms and the televisions set in bathroom mirrors in the luxury ones. Call me old fashioned, but while I don’t want stodgy, I don’t need a bathroom telly amid scenery worthy of an ode.
No, what I like about Linthwaite is the carved mahogany fireplace with crackling fire in the hall, the unflashy sitting rooms, the wraparound conservatory with wonderful lake views, the gently sloping grounds. My favourite detail? The original doors on the gents and ladies loos, with their brass vacant/occupied plates. Perhaps I’m the wrong person for this job.
But I do realise only too well that in order to survive and thrive, hotels like these have to move with the times and stretch themselves to reflect the preoccupations of their guests.
They all opened around a quarter of a century ago, in the days when most guests simply looked for peace and quiet, satisfying food and a nice cup of tea, and they have all had to rise to the challenge of today’s demands: no hot tub, no show.
OK, perhaps I exaggerate, but people (not me) seem to be looking for some sort of twist: a feeling of glamour, a spa, a cookery demonstration, something to talk about back home. A hot tub.
“That was my kitchen, back in the day,” general manager Andy Nicholson told me as I surveyed the little bar off the sitting room, exotic fish tank embedded in one wall. “I was head chef here 10 years ago. As you can see, it was tiny.”
Not so the new kitchen, which has a wall of windows, so that the first thing you see when you arrive at the hotel is the chefs beavering away at your dinner.
And a very good dinner it is, too. Really, the food in country-house hotels is often superb. Of course it should be – they are expensive – but it’s good that I rarely hear complaints, only praise, on that score. It’s ambience and service that are more likely to be in question.
Not here. Not the service. Not with Andy and Mike Bevans, owner for the past 21 years, at the helm. Andy knows the names of all his guests and they are beautifully looked after.
“I’m wheat intolerant,” one told me. “You wouldn’t believe the lengths they have gone to, getting in special products and adapting the menu for me.” Vegetarians take note: there is a great veggie menu alongside the main one, with dishes that can be served as starters or main courses. I tried the polenta with herbs, girolles and broad bean fricassée: delicious.”
“Linthwaite House combines tranquility and excellent service with yummy food and super-chic rooms, and even better views. The acres of gorgeous grounds offer a true taste of the Lake District and you’re sure to return from a stay feeling ultra-relaxed.”
“A beautiful hotel… Linthwaite House Hotel is one of those gems you’ll want to keep a secret… Incredible views of Lake Windermere, beautiful rooms and a dedication to gastronomic excellence… it’s a special place.”
“Memorable desserts and an excellent cheese list littered with regional specialities”
Lists 10 hotels which serve supreme cuisine with a good night’s sleep. Linthwaite was included.