Blending English countryside charm with a contemporary spa and Michelin-star restaurant, The Gilpin Hotel and Lake House is a tranquil escape set among the rolling hills of the Lake District
Many a line has been penned about the majesty of England’s Lake District. Two of its most famous sons are William Wordsworth and Alfred Wainwright; the former wrote poetry, the latter created pictorial walking guides. Both hiked relentlessly up and down The Lakes’ legendary fells. Undulating and unfailingly beautiful in equal measure, the green and pleasant land remains a reliable muse to many. We’ll try our best.
The region is a rambler’s nirvana, though it turns out there are easier ways to appreciate its allure. Like from the comfort of a private hot tub at The Gilpin Hotel and Lake House.
The temperature has just dropped below freezing but immersed in warm water and with a fresh cup of English breakfast tea in hand, The Gilpin’s Spa Suite provides both solace from the chill and the perfect view of a dramatic sunrise. Shades of purple and orange are cast across the freshly frosted valley, the morning mist slowly rising to reveal a wintry scene worthy of prose.
Hygge may have been born in Scandinavia, but it has been honed impeccably here in the Lakes. There is cosiness around every corner at The Gilpin – a roaring fire here, an inviting armchair with woollen blanket there. The hotel is one big warm hug. It is also incredibly private, with its five detached spa suites and five spa lodges having only the resident wandering Alpacas for company.
Each Spa Suite has its own spa room with steam room, sauna, state-of-the-art automated massage chair and infrared healing bed. Extensive outdoor decking needs minimal exploration in the winter beyond sinking into the hot tub or, for those unwilling to step outside at all, a hanging fire and huge circular stone bath provide a welcome alternative. The 100sqm suites feel Scandi-inspired and have nature at their heart with textures of stone, bark, cork and banana leaf, while there is a smorgasbord of fresh foliage too.
The Gilpin is a special property that is steeped in tradition – the owners have an association with the site going back more than a century – but it also embraces the modern as warmly as it does its guests. What began as a family passion project has developed into a property that now regularly features among the UK’s finest spa hotels. Its location is ideal; close enough to the bustling waterside town of Windermere for a day trip to see its steam-powered lake ferries, but far enough away to guarantee an evening of solitude and tranquillity.
Exclusivity is part and parcel of The Gilpin’s offering and on a separate site, five minutes away but even further into the quiet of the countryside, it is possible to take all six rooms of the Lake House. This includes multiple hot tubs and a separate spa lodge with floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing the surrounding woodland. Treatments across the site are expertly delivered, using natural products handmade by local company Pure Lakes.
The Lake House also has perhaps the best spot anywhere at The Gilpin – a wooden, lakeside cabin, from which afternoon tea can be taken and a day spent wondering whether ice skating on the frozen water might be possible.
Of The Gilpin’s three restaurants, it is Michelin-starred Hrishi that understandably garners the most interest. Guests are taken on a 10-course voyage through local British produce, brought to life by French cooking techniques and subtly injected with a little South Asian flair by head chef Hrishikesh Desai.
The approach is exemplified by the ‘Royal Squab Pigeon Wellington’, spiked delicately with tandoori spice and encased lovingly in slow confit leg meat and pastry, cooked to perfection. Elsewhere, local Lancashire Farm cauliflower is elevated in a Goan-style coconut moilee, accompanied by a puffed rice salad and black garlic ketchup. It is flawlessly executed gastronomy that provides welcome warmth from the increasingly glacial outdoors.
As the evening frost forms, we withdraw to the sanctuary of our room. Fire on. Kettle on. And a chance to enjoy one final cup of tea, one final hot tub, and a final sight of the Lake District’s twinkling night sky. In his great literary wisdom, Wordsworth once declared that stars were “mansions built by Nature’s hand”; it was certainly a prescient ode to The Gilpin.
WHAT: Spa Suite
WHERE: The Gilpin Hotel & Lake House
TEL: +44 (0) 1539 488 818