Gilpin Hotel, Windermere, Cumbria

Best hotels for foodies in The Lake District

Cosy up in a quirky country pub, spend the night in a stylish bed and breakfast or feast at a boutique hotel that's home to a destination restaurant with our guide to the Lake District’s best hotels

Looking for hotels in the Lake District? Want to know where to stay in Windermere? Read on for the best hotels in Cumbria…

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The Gilpin, Windermere

In a nutshell

Luxurious bedrooms with lakeside views, and an on-site Michelin-starred restaurant that puts an Asian twist on Cumbrian dining.

Why foodies stay here

Chef Hrishikesh Desai earnt his stripes at top-end training grounds including The French Laundry and Lucknam Park. Two things reign supreme at his Hrishi restaurant: Cumbrian produce and spice. Duck liver, for example, comes capped with a wafer of warm Cumbrian gingerbread, tangy pineapple relish, dabs of coconut emulsion and bittersweet chocolate jelly cubes. To drink, try a Dusk of Bangkok, a potent blend of prosecco, apricot brandy, Cointreau, Blue Curacao, dry orange liqueur, mango and lime juice.

What are the rooms like?

There are two hotels on two separate estates (The Gilpin Hotel and The Gilpin Lake House) – the former has bedrooms with lakeside views and cedarwood hot tubs, as well as five ‘spa lodges’ that have their own private ensuite spa. The Lake House is just over a mile away from the main hotel, and each of its six rooms have access to 100 acres of grounds, including a private lake, boat house, heated indoor pool and jetty spa.

Breakfast

Breakfast is served in the Lake House, and includes terrines of fresh fruit salad and steaming bowls of porridge made with cream and laced with whisky.

Where to eat and drink nearby

Try The Watermill Inn for a beef and home-brewed Collie Wobbles ale pie beside an open fire.

Get great deals on The Gilpin here

thegilpin.co.uk

Gilpin Hotel, Windermere, Cumbria
Hole up in a suite with a lakeside view, or venture out to feast at the Gilpin’s Michelin-starred restaurant, which puts an Asian twist on Cumbrian dining

The Samling, Windermere

In a nutshell

A luxurious country house hotel (think al fresco hot tubs, fine-dining and ornamental water gardens) set in nearly 70 acres of woodland, gardens and fields. It sits right on the banks of Lake Windermere.

Why foodies stay here

The kitchen garden, surrounded by apple and nut orchards, is well worth exploring. Cucamelons and microgreens grow in the central greenhouse, and wildflower meadows buzz with bees (their honey is used to sweeten desserts and cocktails). At the restaurant, which is made entirely of glass to make the most of those lake views, executive head chef Robby Jenks is in charge of a modern menu that includes the likes of shellfish raviolo with citrus bisque, turbot with mussels and samphire, and rhubarb with vanilla, ginger and lemon.

What are the rooms like?

Most overlook a tree-lined Lake Windermere (only two have woodland and garden views instead), and all are decorated in plush neutrals, with sash windows, marble bathrooms and goose down pillows and duvets. For an extravagant stay, pick the Windermere Suite: it’s at the very top of the estate and benefits from its own private patio (with astonishing views) and a copper-clad freestanding bath.

Breakfast

It’s a short menu, but one which includes kedgeree, homemade granola with yogurt, and fresh fruit.

Where to eat and drink nearby

The Priest Hole restaurant and tea rooms, part of Kelsick Old Hall, is a 10-minute drive away, and is the ideal spot for a laidback lunch on the terrace. The classics are done well here – jumbo fish finger sandwiches with homemade tartare sauce, Cartmel-smoked salmon salads and Cumberland sausage chilli dogs.

Book a stay at The Samling here

thesamlinghotel.co.uk

A bedroom with double bed and old sash window with views of the lake
The Samling is a luxurious country house hotel set in nearly 70 acres of woodland

The Pentonbridge Inn, Penton

In a nutshell

A once-tired coaching inn, The Pentonbridge Inn now prospers as a gourmet pub under the direction of chef Gary McDermott. The River Esk, that natural dividing line between England and Scotland, is about half a mile to the north.

Why foodies stay here

The pub’s owners, Gerald and Margo Smith, live at nearby Netherby Hall and have renovated their Victorian walled kitchen garden to supply the inn with fruit, veg, microgreens and herbs. Expect solid pub food at lunch and dinner, with an emphasis on locality; try the soup of the day with Cumbrian farmhouse cheese on toast, Cumbrian chicken and tarragon pie with garden broccoli, or warm treacle tart with clotted cream. There’s also a Sunday lunch menu, including local loin of pork with caramelised apple sauce and cider gravy.

What are the rooms like?

The nine rooms, all different shapes and sizes, are named after famous Border Reiver families – marauding raiders who rampaged around these parts between the 13th and 17th centuries. Style-wise, it’s all whitewashed walls, contemporary cream wooden furniture, vintage-style radiators, tweed chairs, and cheery tartan throws. The barn rooms are dog-friendly with wooden floors, soaring ceilings and rafters, but they don’t come with the views of the upstairs rooms.

Breakfast

Breakfast is served in the conservatory, overlooking the car park and hills beyond. Choose homemade granola topped with fresh berries, porridge with rhubarb and ginger compote, or bacon (thick and salty) with fried eggs and sliced avocado.

Where to eat and drink nearby

You can book afternoon tea at Netherby Hall on the last Wednesday of each month. It’s taken in the Great Oak Hall and might well include swirls of meringue, pastry cones, fruit tarts and mini chocolate eclairs.

Book to stay at The Pentonbridge Inn here

pentonbridgeinn.co.uk

Cosy rooms at The Pentonbridge Inn
A former coaching inn, The Pentonbridge Inn now prospers as a gourmet pub with rooms

Askham Hall, Penrith

In a nutshell

The Lowther name is everywhere in this part of Cumbria – pubs, a ruined castle, even a village bears the name. Capitalising on its organic estate, the Lowther family turned to hotels with the opening of Askham Hall, home to Allium restaurant and 18 rooms.

Why foodies stay here

Richard Swale works in an environment most chefs dream of. His sunny, conservatory-style restaurant opens out onto acres of its own kitchen gardens and farmland. “Pick, cook and serve vegetables within the hour,” explains Richard, “and their freshness is amazing.”

The kitchen is often busy pickling damsons or preserving edible flowers, either to deal with gluts or to extend the shelf life of ingredients. Meat used to be the centrepiece of Richard’s dishes, but now he gives equal prominence to creatively treated vegetables. He might, for instance, add fermented cabbage to salads, or serve scallops with smoky courgette flowers, flash-cooked in the wood-fired oven. You can choose either a la carte or a tasting menu; the latter may include native lobster with smoked bone marrow, home-reared goose with sour cherry sauce and chocolate tart with milk sorbet and candied walnuts.

What are the rooms like?

There are 18 spacious bedrooms to choose from, all with their own character. The Admiral’s Room (located in the 13th-century Pele tower, the oldest part of Askham Hall) benefits from a central four poster bed and River Lowther views. The Train Room (where the family used to keep their model railway set) has a duplex-style layout, with two extra beds upstairs for children. The Old Dressing Room combines original features, such as mullion windows, with modern luxuries, including an open-plan drench shower.

Breakfast

Start the day with fresh eggs, local smoked kippers, or apple pancakes.

Where to eat and drink nearby

Penrith’s Four and Twenty, with its rustic mix-and-match furniture and open kitchen, is loved by locals. It’s a converted former bank that serves modern British food, including carrot, ginger and honey soup, cheese soufflé and apple crumble fool.

askhamhall.co.uk

A large bedroom with double bed, wooden wardrobe and large shower
Askham Hall’s Old Dressing Room combines original features, such as mullion windows, with modern luxuries, including an open-plan drench shower

The Forest Side, Lancrigg

In a nutshell

This imposing Victorian manor sits above the road, skirting the slate-strewn prettiness of Grasmere. It looks staid and traditional, but behind the old-fashioned façade is one of the most innovative restaurants in the Lakes.

Why foodies stay here

A ramble through The Forest Side’s personal fellside (home to roe deer, red squirrels and blankets of wood sorrel) will help you work up an appetite for fine dining at the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. Chefs draw on a one-acre vegetable and herb garden (everything is cooked on the days it’s picked), planted with over 100 varieties – try golden beetroot with cuckoo flower and smoked yow’s curd, or roast mooli with cherry bell radish, at a 6- or 10-course dinner. Pickling is big here (try the walnuts), as is foraging – sup a ‘Forager’ at the bar, made with pineapple weed-infused vodka and homemade ginger beer.

What are the rooms like?

Bedrooms are cosied up with plush wool carpets and locally built Westmorland beds, and some have panoramic views of The Lake District. Choose from Cosy (petite, but still stylish, with Zoffany fabrics), Superb or Master; the latter comes with astonishing Lake District views and Bramley bath products.

Breakfast

All the classics plus homemade granola, foraged wild mushrooms, Bannerigg Farm duck eggs, Slack’s Farm bacon and Cartmel Valley smoked salmon.

Where to eat and drink nearby

Expect spotty crockery and cow murals at Grasmere’s Jumble Room, a fun village bistro that serves everything from Whitby crab crostini to local lamb rump rubbed in rose harissa.

Click here for the best veggie hotels across the world…

theforestside.com

A homemade grey bowl is filled with edible flowers and greenery. Around the way is tree bark for decoration
Chef Kevin Tickle draws on a one-acre vegetable and herb garden, planted with over 100 varieties, at his Forest Side restaurant

L’Enclume, Cartmel

In a nutshell

Simon Rogan’s Michelin-starred restaurant in Cartmel, with a famously-innovative menu that capitalises on local produce and the team’s creativity. There are bedrooms, too, scattered around the village.

Why foodies stay here

L’Enclume feels low-key and local with its stone-flagged floor and slate walls. But from the fragrant pink rhubarb cordial (served in a long glass with a slice of sweet, dried rhubarb) to the bread (homemade sourdough with a jar of rendered pork fat and apple), the attention to detail is palpable.

Every dish is exquisite and clever. You might try a broth of artichoke, Westcombe cheddar and hen of the woods, which teases diners: the cheese ball is cheese-free (instead, cheese-infused water is thickened and made into balls). Valley venison, charcoal oil, mustard and fennel is a house specialty: delicately diced venison from the Holker estate is peppered with tiny sugary balls of gin infused with fennel and sugar, which explode in the mouth. Whatever you try, the ingredients are guaranteed to be seasonal and local – Rogan operates under a strict farm-to-table ethos.

What are the rooms like?

Simple, elegant and modern, with a choice of double, superior or deluxe. They’re dotted around Cartmel (two suites are in a townhouse that overlook the town square), and some come with beamed ceilings, window seats and views of the River Eea.

Breakfast

Breakfast is taken in L’Enclume’s more informal sister restaurant, Rogan & Co (informal up to a point – it still has a Michelin star). The usual suspects – fruit salads, smoked haddock, eggs come beautifully presented.

Where to eat and drink nearby

At the Pig & Whistle, Rogan’s pub, you can try small plates of brawn and black pudding fritters, pigs in blankets with mustard mayo, and homemade scotch eggs. There’s also a nice selection of ales, including Hartleys XB, Robinson’s Dizzy Blonde and Hawkshead Lakeland Lager.

lenclume.co.uk

A bowl is filled with a deep purple sauce and edible flowers
Simon Rogan’s Michelin-starred restaurant, L’Enclume, promises a famously innovative menu that capitalises on local produce and the team’s creativity

The Drunken Duck Inn, Ambleside

In a nutshell

A quirky, country-style watering hole that makes its own beer, enjoys panoramic views of the Lake District, and serves polished food that’s free from pretension.

Why foodies stay here

This has been a pub for at least 300 years, and became one of the area’s first gastropubs when new owners took over in the 1970s. The cooking is more refined than traditional pub grub: cheddar and almond soufflé comes with onion soubise and crispy sage, pork collar with celeriac, celery, truffle and crackling. As well as an excellent menu, The Drunken Duck also has an on-site microbrewery – try a pint of the single-hopped, citrussy Cat Nap.

What are the rooms like?

There are 13 of them, all simple and clean in style, with some in the pub and the rest in a L-shaped extension (built to suit the Drunken Duck’s style) at the back – the latter is a good option if you’re travelling with children and would like to avoid background chatter come bed-time. Deluxe rooms have leather armchairs, wool cushions and feature baths.

Breakfast

Try fried mushrooms and wild garlic pesto on an English muffin, or homemade granola, smoothies, sourdough toast with grapefruit marmalade, and overnight oats.

Where to eat and drink nearby

The Old Stamp House is a fine-dining bistro that serves strictly Cumbrian produce, including roe deer tartar with rye crumbs, pickled mushrooms and nasturtiums; and Cumbrian gingerbread with ginger panna cotta. Top fact: the setting is the cellar of the building where Wordsworth once worked as a distributor of stamps.

Book a night at The Drunken Duck Inn here

drunkenduckinn.co.uk

Interiors of the Drunken Duck Inn with a wooden table, stone walls and cushions on wooden seats
The Drunken Duck Inn is a quirky, country-style watering hole that makes its own beer

The Rum Doodle, Windermere

In a nutshell

Just one mile from Lake Windermere, this stylish b&b is named after mountaineering spoof novel, The Ascent of Rum Doodle. It specialises in Cumbrian-sourced breakfasts and homemade cakes.

Why foodies stay here

Mainly for the excellent breakfasts, but also for the style of the place – the theme is quintessentially English, with everything from vintage typewriters and worn Edwardian suitcases to Queen Elizabeth II tea caddies dotted throughout. Plus the owners are keen bakers, so expect a complimentary slice of carrot cake or a stack of homemade shortbread when you arrive.

What are the rooms like?

All nine bedrooms – each named after a The Ascent of Rum Doodle character – are peppered with antique and retro furnishings, and are decorated to match the personality of their namesakes; Shute, an expedition photographer, is all mirrored furniture and antique cameras while Burley, an extravagant individual, includes a freestanding pink bath and vintage wardrobes.

Breakfast

Blueberry pancakes, smoked haddock with poached eggs, or a mammoth Cumbrian breakfast, complete with peppery sausages and fresh eggs with rich yellow yolks. It’s taken in a room made wonderfully sunny with tall windows.

Where to eat and drink nearby

Five minutes’ away is The Wild Boar Inn, which benefits from its own micro-brewery and smokehouse. Try wild boar and damson scotch eggs, fillet steak with bone marrow gravy or rabbit and crayfish pie.

rumdoodlewindermere.com


The Yan at Broadrayne, Grasmere

In a nutshell

This 1620s stone farmhouse, surrounded by grey-faced Lakeland Herdwick sheep, has been transformed into a boutique hotel halfway between Windermere and Keswick. There’s an on-site bistro that serves rustic Cumbrian food made from strictly local ingredients.

Why foodies stay here

The menu at The Yan Bistro covers every whim, from staples such as shepherd’s pie made with braised lamb and cheesy mash potato, to sharing platters of thyme and garlic beef brisket, baked potatoes filled with garlic cheese, corn on the cob, coleslaw and chargrilled flatbread. There are plenty of veggie options too (don’t miss mozzarella and roast tomatoes with saffron potatoes, roast figs, pesto and fresh basil), and a children’s menu.

What are the rooms like?

Choose standard, deluxe or pet-friendly. All seven bedrooms take inspiration from the surrounding fells, so expect plenty of wood and woollen cushions. Deluxe rooms can include a double sofa bed if there are four of you, and there are two pet-friendly rooms if you want to bring your dog.

Breakfast

A refreshingly original affair, including courgette, tomato and herb frittata with hash browns, tomato salsa and hollandaise sauce, or an epic plate of Cumberland sausage, middle back bacon, black pudding, homemade baked beans, hash browns, roasted tomatoes, fried field mushrooms, eggs and thick-cut buttered toast. There are lighter options, too, including homemade muesli with fruit and yogurt, and porridge topped with nuts and berries.

Where to eat and drink nearby

Lucia’s takeaway coffee shop, also in Grasmere, is perfect for on-the-go homemade sausage rolls, cinnamon buns, sourdough loaves and, of course, coffee. Just the thing when you’re planning a picnic.

theyan.co.uk

An overhead shot of breakfast dishes at The Yan including bacon sandwich, yogurt and granola
Breakfast at The Yan is a refreshingly original affair; go all-out with courgette, tomato and herb frittata served with hash browns, tomato salsa and hollandaise sauce

Sharrow Bay, Ullswater

In a nutshell

Situated on the shoreline of Ullswater, and surrounded by 12 acres of its own leafy land, Sharrow Bay’s charm is definitely helped by its location. But this country-house hotel is also home to the original sticky toffee pudding recipe (staff are sworn to secrecy) and a smart restaurant with a cellar of over 700 bottles.

Why foodies stay here

For the chance to try that sticky toffee pudding. Sharrow Bay insists that it still serves the lightest, figgiest pudding (it was invented here in the 1970s by chef Francis Coulson), served with a sweet toffee sauce. The dining room is traditionally splendid, with wood panelling and tall sash windows that frame magnificent views of Ullswater. A tasting menu includes refined dishes such as seared Scottish scallops with Nashi pear and coffee, noisette of wild venison, and halibut fillet with nut crust. There’s also private dining at Hallin View, a romantic cabin at the water’s edge, a little way apart from the main hotel, that has just one table.

What are the rooms like?

There are three levels of luxury, and the option of a garden view. All the bedrooms are traditionally furnished, with patterned wallpaper, plush carpets, sweeping curtains and patches of tweed throughout. Choose the Silver room for perfect Ullswater views, a four-poster bed draped in rich silk damask, and upholstered window seats, or the Beatrix split-level suite, with its direct access to the garden terrace, a partly panelled bathroom, antique ceramics and close proximity to Sharrow Bay’s luxury dog shower room.

Breakfast

A fine affair, served on Royal Worcester porcelain. Expect stewed fruit, full English breakfasts, porridge and much, much more.

Where to eat and drink nearby

1863 Bistro, also in Ullswater, is the place for smart, modern food, served in a relaxed and friendly environment. A la carte dishes rely on foraged local ingredients (including hen of the woods, berries and morels) – try Herdwick lamb with gremolata and lamb fat roasties, or wild sea bass with Yorkshire asparagus and yuzu sauce.

Get great deals on Sharrow Bay here

sharrowbay.co.uk


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Words by Charlotte Morgan, Lucy Gillmore, Tony Naylor and Alan Spedding