Great British Boltholes: Gilpin Lodge, The Lake District

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  • Fancy some love in the Lakes? Jess Wood swaps city stress for the romance of Gilpin Lodge near Windermere

    Fancy some love in the Lakes? Jess Wood swaps city stress for the romance of Gilpin Lodge near Windermere

    Why go? For a totally luxurious getaway amid the mighty peaks of the Lake District.

    Best for: A romantic mini-break in secluded surroundings. A couple of miles east of Bowness-on-Windermere, this multi-award-winning Relais & Chateaux hotel has 26 rooms and has been owned and run by the same family for 25 years. Set in 16 acres of grounds – complete with private lakes, a spring and a llama paddock – it has breathtaking views over the rugged landscape. Gilpin is a child-free (under 7) zone, making it a magnet for couples – whether you’re on a baby-making mission, your first post-baby break, or you want to avoid the whole thing with some grown-ups-only ‘us time’.

    Room for romance: a suite at Gilpin Lodge

    The look: The great outdoors meets five-star chic. The cultivated gardens (including a croquet lawn) give way to wilder terrain further into the grounds, offering everything from a landscaped terrace for cream tea to a stroll round the water-lily-strewn lake to watch flocks of birds circling overhead. Inside, think plumpy cosiness (log fires and huge, deep sofas) with a splash of retro chic – Neisha Crossland patterned wallpapers and 1960s-inspired lampshades. For the ultimate treat, book a Garden Suite – sitting separately from the main hotel, these come with a private garden and a decked outside area with a Canadian cedarwood hot-tub. Welcome touches include heated bathroom floors, flat-screen TVs, homemade biscuits and jugs of fresh milk in the fridge. You can also stay in one of six suites at the very exclusive-feeling Lake House, which opens in March. A separate building down the road, it overlooks its own lake and boasts a sauna and indoor pool.

    I’m hungry…The traditional-with-a-twist breakfasts are to die (or get out of bed) for – Cumbrian rarebit with locally-cured bacon and the veggie Full English with cassoulet of beans and homemade ketchup are particular highlights. In the evenings, it’s gourmet all the way. Instead of ordering à la carte, the only dinner option is a full five-course menu (from £58 per person), kicking off with canapés and drinks in the lounge. While you deliberate over the cocktail menu, expect lots of friendly questions and chit-chat from the warm, super-attentive staff. Portions are suitably Cordon Bleu-esque – think wild seabass with confit leeks or slow-cooked pork belly with celeriac. If you’re after a pie and chips after a long day’s hike, you’re best off heading down into Bowness, the local town.

    Get cosy in the lounge at Gilpin Lodge

    While you’re there…The main attraction is, of course, the fabulous walks – anything from a gentle three-mile ramble into the countryside surrounding the hotel to a full day’s hike. If you’re feeling less energetic, take a cruise round Lake Windermere ( or visit the writer Beatrix Potter’s house Hill Top (closed Friday,, to admire the cottage garden and snap up a Peter Rabbit souvenir or two. The Arts & Crafts interior of Blackwell (, a landmark house designed by M.H. Baillie Scott, is worth seeing too. Or you could just pull on your fluffy robe, shut yourself away and make the most of the hotel’s in-room spa treatments (including massages and Germaine de Capuccini facials) while enjoying the spectacular views.

    Dress code: Jumpers, jeans and proper hiking boots or Hunters during the day, plus a dressy option for dinner – most women sport outfits of the wrap-dress and heels variety.

    Remember fresh air? Recharge your batteries with a walk in the Lake District

    Book now: Gilpin Lodge Country House Hotel, Crook Road, near Windermere, LA23 3NE (015394 88818; Double rooms cost from £320 including dinner and breakfast (based on two sharing). For packages and special offers see the website. Wifi is complimentary. Trains from London Euston take approximately 2.5 hours. A taxi from Oxenholme rail station takes around 20 minutes and costs between £15-20.

    Info: See Embrace Potter-mania with a viewing of ‘Miss Potter’, the biopic starring Renée Zellweger as Beatrix, or go high-brow and gen up on some Wordsworth, whose poetry made the area famous.


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