With breathtaking views and abundance of local produce, the Lake District has gained a reputation for spa hotels and culinary excellence. Debby Donnelly-Addison explores Gilpin, the Windermere hotel taking luxury to a new level

Taking the sweeping drive to the Gilpin Hotel, you never would have guessed its humble B&B origins. Purchased by John and Christine Cunliffe in 1987, the pair spent the next few years transforming what was John’s grandmother’s small business into the luxury hotel it is today. A family affair, the hotel is currently headed up by the couple’s son, Barney, and his wife Zoe.

Gilpin is set over two sites, each boasting acres of gardens, woodland, and windswept moors. Rooms vary from classic bedrooms and detached lodges at the main site, to stunning new spa suites at the Lake House, decked out with private saunas, massage chairs, Japanese soaking tubs, and lengthy balconies overlooking the boating lake beyond. We were fortunate enough to experience the Knipe Suite, one of the pair of flagship suites that have been added to the existing six rooms. Set across 100 acres, the Lake House has the ambiance of a private country house, with all the amenities of a world class hotel.

Great British Life: Ultimate relaxationUltimate relaxation (Image: Debby Donnelly-Addison)

If you’ve worked up a bit of an appetite after a hard day of relaxation, Gilpin has two restaurants to choose from: The flagship SOURCE, a fine dining affair boasting a Michelin star and headed up by Ollie Bridgwater (formerly of Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck), and Gilpin Spice, the slightly more casual pan-Asian venue offering dishes inspired by the spice trails snaking from the Philippines to China. Making use of the abundance of excellent local produce, SOURCE offers a six or 10 course tasting menu with optional wine flight. Settle in for a dazzling array of dishes such as hand dived scallop with truffle and white kelp, turbot with smoked sake and caviar, and the intriguing rhubarb and saffron custard with goose liver.

Gilpin Spice, with its open kitchen and punchy interiors, specialises in small plates and sharing dishes such as crispy pani puri, slow cooked ox cheek, and my personal favourite, Cumbrian saddleback pork belly. Despite their reputation for all things spiced and fragrant, the desserts should not be overlooked: from spit roast pineapple to banana kulfi mousse, these refreshing offerings are a must for cooling down your palate. For an extra treat, book a chef’s table, for a great view of the action.

Over at the Lake House, you’ll find a quaint sunroom serving afternoon tea (with champagne, if you’re indulging). Dainty sandwiches, fresh scones with clotted cream, and a selection of pastries, are pre-gamed with a shot of warm, creamy cauliflower soup. Book a table overlooking the lake for a dreamy afternoon tea experience.

Great British Life: Afternoon tea at The Gilpin HotelAfternoon tea at The Gilpin Hotel (Image: Debby Donnelly-Addison)

Whilst many arrive at the Lakes with grand plans of long, hardy hikes, you may find yourself failing to leave the hotel grounds except for hopping from site to site using the Gilpin chauffeur service. Guests can download the Gilpin app, with Michelin meals, spa treatments, and breakfast in bed bookable at the touch of a button. Between the private spa lodge upon the lake, two outdoor hot tubs, rowing boats, and all manner of nooks and crannies to curl up with a good book, you’ve no reason to venture any further than the garden walls. Should you choose to tear yourself away from this gastronomical oasis, there are plenty of hiking routes and attractions nearby, including Beatrix Potter’s House, and the iconic town of Windermere.

This haven of tranquillity can be anything you want it to be: a secluded, romantic retreat, a solo, spiritual break, or a luxurious bolt hole to catch up with friends. The Lake House can be booked exclusively for weddings, but its popularity means you would likely need to book a couple of years ahead. Whatever Gilpin is to you, you will no doubt leave refreshed, revitalised, and with a very full belly.

Spa suites start from £670 per night, with classic bedrooms from £220 per night. thegilpin.co.uk