- Holbeck Lane, Windermere, Cumbria LA23 1LU, England
- Tel: +44 (0)1539 432 375
- Email Holbeck Ghyll
- Price Band: $$$-$$$$
- Award winning, Michelin-starred restaurant
- Extras:Spa, tennis, putting green, croquet lawn, woodland walks
- Member of Pride of Britain hotel group
- Dog friendly
A welcoming hearth
The welcome wraps you in warmth as soon as you pass through the door. Flames dance in an inglenook fireplace. The oak-paneled entrance hall is arranged with the kind of traditional, overstuffed chairs and substantial wooden pieces that wear their quality well. Two further lounges overlook a lawn that falls away steeply towards a woodland garden and the misty lake below.
Arts & Crafts with a sense of humorLord Lonsdale, founder of the Automobile Association, who bequeathed the Lonsdale Belt to Boxing, bought Holbeck Ghyll for a hunting lodge in 1888 and made it over in the Arts & Crafts Movement fashion of the time. There are echoes of Charles Rennie Mackintosh design in the period details all over the house. Lonsdale's sense of humor is evident in the decor's witty touches. For example, the Latin motto in the stained glass windows above the staircase translates as "If the shoe fits..."
Rooms in the main house are individually furnished with antiques and compatible pieces. Beds are lavishly dressed in Egyption cotton. The ensuite bathrooms are supplied with Penhaligon toiletries and fluffy robes. As lovely as all this is, the best is elsewhere.
It's reached by a path through beds of mint, fennel and tarragon that release their scent as you brush past. The sound of rushing water, somewhere out of sight, signals Holbeck Ghyll itself, the rocky stream for which the hotel is named. I found it later on a woodland walk.
A decanter of sherry waited on a table of my room in the Lodge. Pouring a glass, I bypassed the sumptuously draped four poster bed and the gas fire waiting to be lit and headed through the French doors onto a generous balcony. Even in the mist, the view of hummocky hills divided by meandering stone walls and dotted with livestock was like a classic English landscape painting. Wallace, my Westie, seemed to enjoy the bird and squirrel watching from the terrace too.
The Lodge is set into a hill giving both upstairs and downstairs rooms private entrances. Rooms above have balconies and those below, patios. All six enjoy the view.
Furnishings are comfortably traditional. Besides the four-poster bed, mine had two soft leather chairs, a writing table, a large flat screen television/DVD pplayer and plenty of closet and drawer space. The gas fire was easy to light and gave everything a nice warm glow.
Some rooms in the Lodge have kitchens where staff can apply the finishing touches to room service meals. Rooms are equipped with safes, hairdryers and music systems.
- The Miss Potter Suite, just up the path from the Lodge, has a sunken hot tub on its private terrace, along with separate sleeping, dining and living room areas.
- The Shieling is a two bedroom, two bath cottage with fully equipped kitchen.
- Madison House is a three bedroom, lake view cottage with kitchen and private garden.
More things to do at Holbeck Ghyll
- Take a woodland walk - Paths from just below the hotel gardens lead all the way down to the lake - beside the stream which gives its name to the hotel - or to fields dotted with curious sheep.
- Indulge The hotel spa has complimentary gym, sauna, steamroom, power shower and relaxation rooms as well as a range of plant based treatments.
- Shop A small BrookS boutique sells lots of posh English brands - Barbour clothes, Penhaligon scents, crafts, gifts and the hotel's generous terry robes. It's small but you could definitely flex your credit cards on a rainy morning.
- Dine Holbeck Ghyll's restaurant is well decorated with awards. It was named Cumbria Restaurant of the Year, 2007 in the prestigious Good Food Guide, has three AA rosettes and has held its Michelin star for seven years.
- Get married Read About Weddings at Holbeck Ghyll
Worth going back?
Besides comfortably indulgent accommodations and ample breakfasts - including smoked haddock or porridge with cream and honey if you choose - there's the relaxed ambiance of a rather nice country house weekend among friends.
On my last morning, a fairy ring appeared in the grass below my window. The mysteriously perfect circle of toadstools had sprung up out of the ground overnight. I don't know if you're supposed to make a wish on a fairy ring, but it seemed the right thing to do, so I wished for a return visit to Holbeck Ghyll.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation for the purpose of reviewing. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.