Short Breaks - Gilpin Hotel, Windermere

Gilpin Hotel near Windermere is renowned for its country house charm. But their secluded Lake House takes relaxation to another level


A Lake House stay for two people with a glass of champagne and afternoon tea on arrival, including use of the spa, and four-course dinner at the hotel with champagne and matched wines, coffee and petit fours, is around �650. Special offers are sometimes available. For full details visit their website

Louise Allen-Taylor was a guest of the owners of Gilpin Hotel and Lake House, Crook Road, Windermere, The Lake District, LA23 3NE. Tel: 015394 88818

We slipped out of the Lake House, strolled around the glassy smooth Knipe Tarn and after a gentle climb through wooded meadows found ourselves at a splendid viewpoint. Behind us snow flecked the upper reaches of Cumbria’s highest peaks and before us the vista stretched to Morecambe Bay.

What a fabulous setting for a wonderful weekend: all the wilds of the Lake District close at hand, and yet all the sophistication of the finest fine dining to soothe our spirits.

The Lake House is a secluded offshoot of the Gilpin Hotel and both are just a few minutes’ drive from bustling Bowness-on-Windermere, yet found either side of Crook Road, in a valley too often overlooked by those rushing north to the honeypots of the Lakes.

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The Cunliffe family, two generations of which run Gilpin Hotel, have connections with Knipe Tarn stretching back to 1918. Latterly, the Lake House has been developed as a luxurious idyll with six suites designed by Christine Cunliffe with award-winning interior designer Sarah-Jane Neilson.

Stroll around the small tarn and look back through the evergreen to the house and one could be in Norway or Sweden. The tarn looks good enough to swim in but there’s a more inviting comfortable option of a heated pool on the lower ground floor of Lake House. One of its walls is lined with the finned trophies from the house’s former existence as a fishing lodge.

Lake House guests enjoy breakfast in an airy conservatory while watching peahens stroll by. For dinner, we were chauffeured by charming staff five minutes to the Gilpin Hotel. And what a fabulous dining experience head chef Phil Cubin and his team create. Greatest hits included a starter of roasted Jerusalem artichoke with crispy parmesan risotto and Madeira jelly; soups such as a velvety smooth celeriac, and a simple yet elegant white onion. Plus mains such as pork tenderloin, belly and cheek with sage dumplings; Cornish sea bass with fennel, carrot and orange puree, star anise nage.

Mr Taylor pronounced the ‘Egg custard’ - nutmeg custard with pickled blueberries and gingerbread ice cream - as the best dessert he has ever tasted. This is a man who has never turned down bread and butter pudding. But what really made our meal here - apart from the brilliant food and attentive staff - were the matched wines for each course. These were chosen by sommelier Ziggy Grinbergs who delivered a fascinating justification for each selection.

Gilpin has hospitality down to a fine art. The Cunliffes and their team excel at the personal touch. Gilpin was recently declared England’s Small Hotel of the Year - among many other awards - and it’s not difficult to see why. Gilpin celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Clearly, there is much to celebrate.

Louise Allen-Taylor

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