Monday, 17 June 2013

Sluttery Travels: The Windermere Suites, Lake District



From the moment I walked into The Windermere Suites, I was transported into full-on holiday mode. The attentive-yet-discreet chap on reception hovered behind the door - who knows for how long, as I'd been glamorously crouched in the car park wrestling with a runaway camping stove and a Rough Guide to Britain for about a decade - ready to welcome me and take my bags. I knew I'd be looked after here.

The sign outside this boutique hotel tells passers-by that it was voted 'funkiest B&B of the year' in 2010, and it's easy to see why. I got the impression that even with my professional-grade snooping skills, it would be impossible to find a less-than-gorgeous part of the hotel. No loose skirting boards or peeling wallpaper here - owner Vicky has an eye for interiors and her design sensibilities are in evidence everywhere I looked. 

The Cartmel Suite - my home for the night 

After a quick and easy check in, which included being given some recommendations for where to dine that evening (I was impressed that he'd called ahead to find out which restaurants still had tables free, to save me a wasted journey), I was shown to the Cartmel Suite. Wow. I'm pretty sure it's bigger than my entire flat. With sleek wooden floors, an enormous super-kingsize bed, and A LOT of silver, this is the sort of room you might never want to leave.

Before I was left to my own devices, I was given a lesson in how to work the bath. Yup, you heard - this isn't just any bath. Oh no. It's a MASSIVE double air bath, with fancy colour-changing Chromotherapy lighting above it and a TELLY on the wall. It's all so fancy, I made a live-action video and entitled it 'FANCY'. Behold:

Lowering the tone of the establishment by watching Jeremy Kyle in the bath (I'm not actually in it here, don't worry)


Isn't it FANCY? But that's not all. The whole bathroom is like this. The sink has a waterfall tap that changes colour, and the shower... well, just look:

All of the colours coming out of the shower

LIKE A GLOWING RAINBOW.

It's tempting to spend your whole stay in the bathroom playing with the lights, but I did manage to wrench myself away for a little explore. Situated on the main street between Windermere village and Bowness-on-Windermere, the hotel is perfectly placed for sightseeing and eating. You don't need a car (take a train to Windermere, everything is walkable, including the FLAGSHIP LAKELAND STORE *perishes*) - but there is free and ample on-site parking for guests if you choose to drive. 

Windermere's a total babe

I recommend Postilion in Bowness for delicious grub and excellent service - three courses are about £22 per head, and you'll definitely need a lakeside stroll afterwards to work off your dinner. The Windermere Suites doesn't have a restaurant (breakfast is served in your room, more of which very shortly!), but there is a room service menu of light bites if you really can't bring yourself to go outside. 

Dove Cottage, home of Wordsworth

Further afield, Wordsworth's family home, Dove Cottage in Grasmere, is worth a look. Thomas de Quincey later lived here, and inside the house you can see - among many other things - the black mark on the stairs left by Mrs de Quincey's coal scuttle, and one of Wordsworth's skates. Ace. The garden is a pretty place to wander lonely as a cloud, too - it was planted by William and his sister, Dorothy.

Some pretty flowers planted by William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy (maybe)

Daffodil season is over, so you'll have to make do with these instead. 

Best. Gingerbread. EVER

If you're in Grasmere, you MUST try some of Sarah Nelson's famous gingerbread. Definitely the best I have ever tasted. Buy in bulk!

GUTTED

In nearby Keswick, I really wanted to visit the Pencil Museum. Alas, it wasn't to be. I consoled myself with the breathtaking views at Derwent Water.

Derwent Water looking beautiful. And watery

Not bad for a big puddle, eh?

You won't go hungry at breakfast

Back at the Windermere Suites, the aforementioned breakfast is mouthwateringly vast. Select what you want from a list of favourites like Eggs Benedict, Full English, porridge, fresh fruit and much more, then leave your order form at reception the night before, and breakfast will magically appear during your chosen time slot. Some of the suites have separate living rooms complete with a hatch, so you don't even have to interact with other people before your (freshly-brewed, piping hot) morning cuppa.

The finishing touches

The little details at the hotel make it feel like a home-from-home. A huge telly (as well as the one in the bathroom) with lots of channels, an iPod dock, free Wifi, proper coffee and a cafetière, a well-stocked minibar, and The White Company toiletries make it difficult to find a reason to leave your room. The bed is amazingly comfy, with masses of fluffy pillows. There's a Juliet balcony, so you can throw the doors open on a hot day (I was blessed with fantastic weather) - the ground floor suites have outdoor tables and chairs on private patios overlooking the grounds. Vicky gave me a tour of the other suites before I left, and they're all as lovely as mine. (It's MINE now. You can't have it.)

I risked life and limb to scramble down onto this rock, so now I *have* to feature this completely unrelated photo

Rates for bed and breakfast vary depending on the season, of course, but at the moment there are loads of last-minute offers to be had - prices start at £85 per person, per night. Check out the experience stays, too - photography courses, food safaris and sailing trips are all available. And if you're in the mood for love (this hotel is made for couples - it's kingsize beds or nothing!), the Romance package - including rose petals, champagne, and chocolates - is just what the relationship counsellor doctor ordered.

The day after I left, the hotel won Best Guest Accommodation at the Cumbria Tourism Awards (I don't think my leaving is connected in any way, but you never know), and it's well-deserved. This is a really special place to stay. Well done, Windermere Suites!

I was a guest of The Windermere Suites. Images 1 (collage of exterior shots and other rooms) and 2 (the Cartmel Suite) reproduced with kind permission of Vicky Monks at The Windermere Suites.

2 comments:

  1. I can't believe that it's only £85 a night. It looks amazing. And as jealous as I am of your trip (seriously, I'm a horrid shade of green after reading this), I am so sad you didn't get to see the Pencil museum.

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  2. Omg, that b&b is stunning. The bf has wanted to take me to the lakes for ages. I think he imagined camping, but if he said we'd stay here, I'd definitely go!

    heartattack-andwine.blogspot.co.uk

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