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Luxury in the Lake District

That’s tarn it. Neil Sowerby sets his telescopic sights on romance in one of the Lake District’s loveliest hotels...

Written by . Published on May 7th 2010.


Luxury in the Lake District

Victorian art guru John Ruskin allegedly never consummated his marriage because he was shocked on his wedding night to discover his wife’s body didn’t follow the ‘Brazilian’ ideal of Greek statuary. I put that rather coyly.

I wonder how a forthcoming film adaptation of his buttoned-up life (featuring Oscar-nominated Carey Mullligan) is going to handle this. Will it be as steamy as an Ambleside tea-room after a heavy downpour? As neutered as Peter Rabbit and the other creations of fellow Lakes denizen Beatrix Potter? Or merely as enigmatic as the home life of Wordsworth, who seemed to prefer spending quality daffodil time with his sister, Dorothy.

Whatever, the movie will certainly boost visits to Ruskin’s former home, Brantwood, spectacularly overlooking Coniston and already attracting 30,000 visitors a year.

A delightful spot in any season, it could be your token cultural excursion on a romantic (and I don’t mean poetry, unless verse be your viagra) weekend, where celibacy is definitely not on the agenda.

Banish the Gore-Tex cagoule, your prized Wainwright Velcro’d to your chest, Kendal Mint Cake glueing your chattering teeth together on some blasted fell. Loosen up. The Lakes are for Lurve.

The passionate but impecunious may have to make do with a dewy sleeping bag or a bacon scented B&B but, if you can, it’s worth pushing out the boat for a Lake view from a posh hotel.

The Samling and Holbeck Ghyll on Windermere or the Sharrow Bay on Ullswater tick all the boxes, albeit at hefty prices. Gilpin Lodge, just voted Britain’s best small hotel, lacks a lake view but is perfect in every other way, especially if you plump for a garden suite with outdoor hot-tub. Chef Russell Plowman’s food is as good as any in a region full of outstanding restaurants.

Any of these stellar establishments, though, would be hard-pressed to offer a room as built for seduction (or in my case consolidation) as the Loft Suite at Linthwaite House.

Linthwaite owner Mike Bevans modestly says they aim down a rung from Gilpin just down the road (though they do have a distant view of Windermere). But, in commissioning that fabulous designer Roberta Fulford (she refurbished the Yang Sing in Manchester) to design the Loft Suite, they have pulled off a great coup.

Duck egg blue and chocolate are the keynote colours with predominantly Designer’s Guild fabrics in a vast 56 square metre space that accommodates a king bed and a large free-standing double bath. There’s a large amount of state of the art electrical equipment culminating in a sliding glass roof, which closes automatically if it rains.

Alas, the view is towards wooded hillside rather than down to Windermere, but (a gorgeous if vaguely voyeuristic touch) there is a telescope where after the earth moves for you, young lovers, you can gaze up at the stars.

It is a sumptuous treat of a room that rather overshadows the rest of this very comfortable and friendly 32-room hotel, originally built as a private house in 1900. Later it was a guest house until 1990 when Mike and his wife took it on. The latest Fulford-designed £1.3m five-room extension, including the Loft Suite, adds to the contemporary rather than chintzy feel here. Food under local lad come home Robert Kearsley, a Michel Roux protege, is also very modern British in attitude with strong reliance on locally sourced produce.

Linthwaite organise walking trips for guests, either unaccompanied or with an experienced guide, but star-crossed lovers seeking a brief breather can walk through 14 acres of hotel grounds, which include a trout-stocked tarn.

Talking of tarns, friendly rivals Gilpin Lodge are currently opening up a luxurious additional six-bedroom property, that can be hired for exclusive use, a couple of miles from their Crook Road hotel – with a Bentley shuttle.

In the family since 1907 and newly converted for guests, it’s called Lake House and overlooks a broodingly romantic wooded stretch of water called Knipe Tarn. One for the hidden Goth in you. Full details here.

LINTHWAITE HOUSE, Crook Road, Windermere, Cumbria LA23 3JA (013594 886000, email: stay@linthwaite.com). Ranked by the AA among the country’s top 200 hotels.Room rates at Linthwaite start at £220 a standard room, inc breakfast. A junior suite will cost from £360. In one of the hotel’s many special offers (see www.linthwaite.com), the longer you stay the cheaper it gets, culminating in stay seven nights get one free (providing you have dinner alternate nights). Until July 8.

Short break rates, which include room, dinner, breakfast start at £119-£139 a head.The Loft Suite understandably demands a premium price (£230 a head) but until June 30 2010 you can take advantage of the Suite Indulgence package. Stay two nights, pay £288 per person a night on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis and receive complimentary champagne afternoon tea for two on arrival and a Molton Brown gift set.

Details on Brantwood, visit www.brantwood.org.uk.

An essential companion is Christian Dymond’s The Lake Distict Cumbria Food and Drink guide (Dymond Guides, £12.99).

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