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PARADISE FOUND

beyond checks into The Gilpin Hotel & Lake House and discovers a haven of tranquillity and luxury where everybody should escape to at least once in their life.

When Lake District’s greatest son William Wordsworth proclaimed, “It is the loveliest place that man hath ever found,” he could well have been waxing lyrically about The Gilpin Hotel & Lake House.

Sadly, for William it wasn’t there 200 years ago, but if it had been, there’s a good chance you’d have spotted the little wordsmith wandering round the beautiful grounds lonely as a cloud and banging on about it all over Ye Olde Tripadvisor.

And who could have blamed him? For this is a truly magical place where hedonism meets seclusion, rejuvenation meets seduction, and the soul is lifted to dizzy new heights.

The epitome of a modern country house hotel pimped up with a dash of bling, it’s a haven of tranquillity that could inspire even the most reluctant of romantics to pick up a pen and write a sonnet or two.

It’s a place where exquisite dining experiences await; luxurious spa treatments are designed to refresh the body and mind, and an oasis of calm prevails.

Set amidst beautiful gardens, moors, woodlands and just a short drive from Lake Windermere, The Gilpin has long been on our radar and having previously dined there, we jumped at the chance to return and experience everything else this seductive sanctuary has to offer.

The long-run family hotel, now in the very capable hands of Barney and Zoë Cunliffe, is split over two sites with the main house home to Gilpin Hotel and the opulent Gilpin Lake House, located just a mile away.

Set in 21 acres, the hotel itself boasts 30 bedrooms (22 with private hot tubs); two restaurants – the Michelin starred Source and the casual pan Asian Gilpin Spice; a Champagne Bar; lounge terraces and sumptuous spa treatment area.

Spa Lodges

While Gilpin Lake House is hidden away on 100 acres of private grounds with its own lake, spa treatment room, spa jetty and just six bedrooms where guests can truly switch off in style.

This is where we were lucky enough to stay and on a cold winter’s day in mid-December with fires roaring inside and the snow falling outside, there really was no better place to find ourselves.

Source

At its heart, this is a deeply comfortable house with an abundance of deep, inviting sofas, hidden corners, and hefty table lamps, yet at the same time it boasts an effortless contemporary edge which was most noticeable in our palatial bedroom which overlooked the lake and equipped with every modern convenience you could wish for.

From the moment we arrived to the moment we reluctantly had to leave, the staff could not do enough for us and while never intrusive, they were always attentive and helpful to our every need, even arranging transport to and from the main hotel where a night of fine dining awaited us.

Spiced Duck Breast

When it comes to food, The Gilpin has long been on the gastronomic map of excellence and in this neck of the woods where there’s no shortage of fine dining choices, the Michelin-starred Source more than holds its own as one of the best in the business.

Here the brilliant Ollie Bridgwater (ex Fat Duck) and his team make the most of unique ingredients with menus that focus on exquisite local produce, seasonality, sustainability and precision.

It is a place where detail really matters and having opted for the eight-course tasting menu with wine pairings, we strapped ourselves in, sat back and waited for the action to unfold.

The arrival of our gin and tonic dome appetiser, which burst in the mouth with an explosion of incredible flavours, set the tone for a journey to remember and it didn’t disappoint.

For the next three hours we were treated to dish after dish of mind-blowing food with superbly paired wines that only enhanced the incredible tastes and textures Ollie and his team had so lovingly crafted.

While it was impossible to pick a favourite, the butter poached cod, the hand-dived scallops in a charcuterie sauce, the roast quail with chestnut truffle and the loin of venison were all beyond sublime and worthy of every shiny star bestowed upon them.

At £200 per person for the full tasting menu with wines or £120 for the dishes alone, it’s a restaurant where deep pockets are required but one that you won’t regret saving up for.

The only stumbling block was having to drag ourselves away from the table but with a car already waiting outside to whisk us back to the sanctuary of our lakehouse room, there really was nothing in the world to worry about.

After an incredible night’s sleep and a sumptuous breakfast brimming with an array of fresh fruits and delicious local produce, it was time to skip down to the lakeside spa and be treated to a full body massage where they use only the finest ESPA body oils and Pure Lakes products.

Hidden amongst the trees in a glass fronted log cabin overlooking the lake, we spent the next hour in the capable hands of our masseurs who worked their magic and left us in a state of what I can only describe as blissful utopia.

You can’t help but be seduced by the setting, and whatever room you’re staying in, there is a spa trail or special spa experience with your name on it.

Spice

And so with our stay nearly at an end, we had one last experience to squeeze in with a lunch date at the two AA Rosette Gilpin Spice booked in.

With Tom ‘Westy’ Westerland at the helm, this is a restaurant that is making a lot of noise and one that if you’re ever passing is well worth a visit for either lunch or dinner.

Home to pan-Asian dishes inspired by countries along the spice trail – spanning the Philippines, the Indian sub-continent, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan and China – this laid-back addition to The Gilpin certainly delivers with its fresh and exciting menu all lovingly prepared from its spectacular open kitchen.

We opted for Westy’s Fried Chicken, the Loch Duart Salmon Chirashi, Crispy Battered Prawns and a side dish of sticky rice and once again it was a faultless masterclass of flavour combinations that take your taste buds kicking and screaming on a journey of discovery.

The Jetty Spa

At the heart of The Gilpin is a passionate family and a team who are dedicated to creating lasting memories and it is little wonder so many people return year after year for romance, celebrations or sanctuary.

When a hotel has so many beautiful elements that all combine so effortlessly, it’s not a question of whether you will love it, but a question of just how much you will love it.

Wordworth was right, it really is up there as the loveliest place that man hath ever found and one that should be at the top of everybody’s bucket-list.

Lakeside Treatment Room

Room prices per night range from £305 – £910 in winter and £335 – £960 in summer.

Gilpin Hotel & Lake House
Crook Road, Windermere LA23 3NE
T: 01539 488818  W: thegilpin.co.uk

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