With stunning scenery, charming towns, and a host of fun tourist attractions, it’s no wonder the Lake District attracts almost 16 million visitors every year. There are hundreds of hotels to choose from but only a handful that combine their beautiful natural setting with five-star comfort, exceptional service and fine dining. Linthwaite House is a winning combination of country charm and sophisticated elegance; the perfect location for sitting back to relax and enjoy the views, or getting out and about to explore the incredible surroundings.
Hotel and grounds
Just a mile up the hill from Bowness-on-Windermere, on the edge of Lake Windermere itself, is the stunning Linthwaite House, sitting in idyllic grounds of 14 acres. Linthwaite House – owned by South African chain Leeu Collection – occupies an enviable position with commanding views out across Lake Windermere (undoubtedly the most famous lake of the district) and is quickly securing its position as one of the finest hotels in the area.
Linthwaite House was built in 1900 by the Pattinson family as a private home and used as summer retreat for almost two decades. In 1969, the house became a guesthouse, initially with just five bedrooms and then being extended to add six more guest rooms and earn two stars. In 2016, the hotel – now boasting 30 bedrooms following numerous extensions – was bought by Analjit Singh to join the Leeu Collection portfolio.
Following an extensive renovation, Linthwaite House now provides guests with the option to choose from one of 30 traditional, classic bedrooms in the old house or one of six luxury lake suites up on the hill. The old house has been extended and refurbished with a large, light-filled conservatory with doors onto the terrace, making the most of the breathtaking panoramic views across Lake Windermere. The house retains some of its original features such as the eye-catching stain glass window and statement staircase in reception, and a number of fireplaces which were roaring when we arrived on a cold, wet day.
While the weather isn’t always great in October, it’s definitely the best time to visit as summer shifts to the copper tones and earthy colours of autumn. It’s the perfect season to follow the trail around the grounds and spot the playful art installations and whimsical sculptures (inspired by the local wildlife and South Africa’s nature), weave along the woodland paths through the rich, red leaves, and wander down the slate-lined tracks up to the hotel’s own special viewpoint, Lake Suites and the picturesque Tarn.
Guests can take rowing boats out onto the tranquil water where all you can hear is the splashing of the oars and the singing of the birds. A heron swooped past as we gazed across the still water, the reflection of the leaves on the trees transforming from summer green to burnt orange practically in front of our eyes. The Tarn Cabin is a magical retreat tucked into the trees and away from the main hotel, where guests can enjoy some quiet contemplation. Upon request, the hotel can arrange an intimate Champagne picnic in the cabin for couples enjoying a romantic weekend away.
But, enchanting as it is, The Tarn isn’t Linthwaite House’s most romantic spot. For that, guests should follow the path up to the lake suites and dive off into the undergrowth to the hotel’s very own viewpoint and panoramic photo spot. With trees framing the view down the hill, over Bowness-on-Windermere and across the lake itself, this is the most captivating spot on the whole site. Sit back on the swinging love seat and while away the hours here with your own postcard view of the gorgeous lake.
We were shown to our room on the first floor in one of the older extensions of the original house. The long corridors and creaky floorboards are testament to the years the house has stood in its spot, growing in size and quality as hotelier after hotelier sought to make the most of its prime hilltop position overlooking the water.
We were staying in a classic King Size room with views over the manicured gardens and croquet lawn below. The room, while compact, was adequately proportioned with a small sitting area and dressing table separated by the large, comfy bed. The room was decorated in classic, neutral tones and lit with the warm glow of bedside lamps. In the bathroom – finished in similarly neutral and earthy hues – guests can enjoy using Molton Brown products from reusable wooden-topped ceramic pots in a responsible move by the hotel to reduce plastic waste.
After enjoying aperitifs in the stylish conservatory, we headed up to our room to get ready for dinner and I hopped in the bath to relax although my soak was cut short as, no matter how much fiddling with the taps and temperature, I couldn’t run any hot water. After my (rather cool) bath, it was time to dress up for dinner – and you won’t feel out of place in the hotel’s exquisite restaurant, Henrock, whether you break out your finery or keep it casual in a shirt and jeans.
For dinner, we were lucky enough to sample the delights of Henrock; an elegant restaurant by esteemed Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan, which opened just a year ago. Henrock – named after Hen Rock, a rocky outcrop emerging from Lake Windermere and often visible from the hotel’s terrace – showcases local and seasonable ingredients, inspired by Rogan’s farm in the Cartmel Valley.
The impeccably dressed staff brought out our drinks – a sweet strawberry virgin cocktail for me and a local ale for my husband – and the most delicious Brioche mini loaf to nibble at while we perused the menu. The crispy loaf – drizzled with butter – tore apart to reveal fluffy warmth inside. Paired with the delicious salty butter, we could have easily eaten the bread course after course but felt we should sample a little bit of everything from the intriguing menu.
I had the grilled mackerel to start, which was delicate and refined but had a complexity of tastes and combination of textures to create a sensation for the pallet. The grilled skin gave a crisp bite with a hint of heat as the chilli cut through the flaky fish and the sweet, citrusy tahini. My husband had the rich, smooth dashi broth of wood-fired onions (onion soup to you and I!) which was packed full of flavour and topped with soft, chewy manchego dumplings and went perfectly with the home-baked loaf.
For mains, I had the poached loin of cod with courgette fregola and romesco. The cod was cooked to perfection; meaty and juicy, and served with a sardine vinaigrette with an intense depth of flavour, and packed a fishy punch. He opted for Goosnargh guinea fowl with ponzu, rye, lovage and smoked sweetcorn, giving it a vivid splash of colour and a crunch to taste. For dessert, we shared the simple vanilla ice cream served with Chantilly, chocolate crumble and a hot, indulgent chocolate sauce which drizzled out of the jug and melted the ice cream beneath it; and the classic selection of cheese with Shropshire blue, Maida Vale and Isle of Mull cheddar to choose from. The board was served with oat cakes which were a bit bland but gave centre stage to the rich and flavoursome cheeses.
Linthwaite House is perfectly located for exploring Lake Windermere and the pretty parks, towns and landmarks that are perched on the edge of this world-famous waterway. At more than 10 miles long and one mile wide, Lake Windermere is the largest lake in the national park – and in England.
Reception staff can provide maps and walking routes for hikers of all abilities taking you directly from the hotel’s doorstep to some of the best viewpoints. Nearby, trails up to Orrest Head offer awesome views across the hills and tarns, The World of Beatrix Potter provides activities for the whole family, and the National Trust-owned Wray Castle inhabits pretty lakeside gardens with lots of walks.
For those with cars who are staying in the area longer and want to travel further afield, there are lots of attractions just a short drive from the hotel. Adventure awaits with Scafell Pike – England’s highest mountain at 978m – just a 90 minute drive away; Coniston Water and Keswick are a 40 minute journey; and Kendal – the home of the famous mint cake – is just 20 minutes by car.
In a nutshell
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway to celebrate a special occasion or a action-packed staycation in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK, Linthwaite House will ensure you have somewhere soft to lay your head and good food in your belly.
Rates start from £200 for two people sharing a double room on a bed and breakfast basis; bookings can be made by phone, via email or online.
Photograpy courtesy of Linthwaite House