When I think of England I think of its beautiful countryside. I think of rolling green hills, century old stone walls, small country houses, heritage cottage gardens. I think of long relaxing walks in the clear and slightly moist air of a British summer, the ducks making noise in the ponds, afterwards an aromatic tea in the conservatory. Yes, this is England at its finest. You can find it in many places around the British isles, but the Lake District is probably one of the best regions to experience this English rural charm.
I had no expectations when we pulled up at Linthwaite House Hotel only a couple of weeks ago, our first stop of our trip up to Scotland. Also on board: Coralie of Tea Time in Wonderland, one of the best London blogs you can find. We were following an invitation to experience the services and facilities of this multi-award winning boutique property, and I am happy to share with you that our stay did not disappoint.
If you want English country living with an elegant twist, then Linthwaite House is your best choice. The instant you enter the property you know you have arrived in your second home in the country. There is a distinct feeling of not being in a hotel at all. There is no lobby, no reception. Just a desk welcoming you in a rather casual manner, with all the electronic contraptions of the modern hotel business cleverly hidden in a little nook under the main stairs.
Just like at a private grand country house, the lower level mainly consists of a series of lounge rooms that are connected and flowing into each other to create inviting living spaces for boardgames and cups of hot steaming teas. Sit close by the big windows for spectacular valley and lake views, or come closer to the fireplace after a walk in the woods – the lounges, carefully selected wallpaper and decorative pieces create an inviting and quite romantic atmosphere which makes you instantly feel at home. This is nostalgia in a good and satisfying way, without the stuffy feeling but with a breath of fresh air and a clean ambience.
Linthwaite House Hotel has 30 rooms to choose from, with various levels of luxury, from “cosy rooms” to suites. Our room in subdued earthy colours had everything we could wish for – comfortable beds, a TV, tea and coffee, lots of space, a luxurious bathroom with big rain shower and a separate bathtub. Even though I was travelling with a friend, I could easily imagine returning here with my husband. What I loved most about the room though was the view: behind the window panes a world of green opened up – dotted with colourful flowers and buzzing with insects of all sorts. While not overlooking the lake, this room enchanted us with our own private garden and pond set in perfect privacy, just for us to enjoy.
Boredom is an unknown concept at Linthwaite House. The selection of games is a good starting point, but if the weather is clear you actually might prefer a round of croquet on the lawn right outside the house. Or maybe you want to explore the surrounding woodlands or go for a swim in the incredibly romantic tarn. The cute bath house with table and chairs certainly did look inviting! Or how about you head into town, to Bowness-on-Windermere to explore the lake, have a coffee in one of the dozens of cafés, or check out the quaint little shops. Soak up the sun on the lounge chairs on the hotel terrace, read a book in the conservatory, or catch a fish with the hotel’s rods.
Yet, it is relaxation that seems to attract guests to Linthwaite. You will find it everywhere here, with plenty of space to just sit and enjoy, no loud noises, and no electronic distraction. The perfect escape.
The little town of Bowness may not be accessible by foot – you do need to drive from the hotel to get out and about – but there is no need to dine elsewhere. In fact, our dinner probably was the best part of our stay at Linthwaite, a first-class experience that with every course just kept on giving. As part of our stay we were also invited to try the dinner menu, so when it was time to dine we were asked to first take a seat in the lounge area for an aperitif and canapés. What a lovely idea, to be seated in a comfortable area and not to be thrown into the dining experience.
Sipping on our cocktails we leisurely went through the dinner menu to select our dishes, all the while trying hard not to get distracted by the lovely views outside the windows. Just sitting there with a cocktail in hand, nibbling on a nutty appetiser, I could literally sense how relaxation kicked in and I was slowly transitioned into dinner time.
Dining at this hotel is a lengthy affair, a journey, and quite clearly one of the main components of the hotel stay experience. Really, you cannot stay at Linthwaite and not enjoy dinner here. In fact, it’s a feast for the eyes as well as for your tastebuds, with each new dish from the kitchen proving to be more exciting, more surprising than the one before.
After our canapés we were led into an intimate dining room with big windows where the theme of no rushing and quiet atmosphere continued. A seamless transferral from the lounge area to the dining table. But if you think that you are now getting down for business, you are mistaken. A little leek soup is what follows, just to whet your appetite a bit more, if the appetiser didn’t quite do the trick for you.
My starter was a cold gazpacho, a cleverly reinvented version of the Spanish favourite. Though prepared with heirloom tomatoes, this gazpacho was not like any gazpacho I ever tasted. Even the look was different: the soup chilled even further to create a refreshing sorbet, the garlic transformed into a light foam, shaved parmesan adding some depth and saltiness to the dish.
Overall a delicious, authentic experience which would have been even better if served with a spoon (or maybe you need to be faster than me when eating this dish before the sorbet melts on the plate).
My friend chose a carpaccio of venison, roast beetroot and blueberry marmalade, stilton, hazelnut and chervil – quite the opposite to my light vegetarian starter, yet equally delicious. A perfect choice for guests preferring meatier, deeper flavours.
On to the mains: I just couldn’t resist the pork belly main, and the crackling was the perfect reward for my choice. The potato mash – just the right creaminess, came with the added bonus of a hint of vanilla flavour.
This, together with some sauerkraut and apple sauce, worked perfectly together to great a wholesome sweet and salty sensation, a warming marriage of flavours and textures. In fact, the pork belly was sensational – so soft it was just melting in my mouth.
My dessert really was just a celebration of all things raspberry. The sweet and sour fruit appeared on my plate in all different shapes and sizes – fresh, as a mousse, as a compotte, a sauce. A refreshing line-up of raspberry themed dessert bites, altogether beautifully presented. And what was even better: the raspberries came with honeycomb, which is always a winner with me!
You would think that after all this food we were stuffed, which we truthfully were. Yet, the cheese platter on the table next to us did look very tempting, and so we ordered this on top of everything else, if only to indulge in some good quality boutique cheeses that filled the whole palette from hard to creamy to blue cheese.
A perfect way to end a day in the country. Upon return to our room we discovered that it was already turned down by the staff. Talking about taking all your worries away… all we needed to do now was close our eyes and fall asleep.
And would you be surprised if I told you that the breakfast menu didn’t need to hide behind its dinner cousin? Of course you can order a full English breakfast in the morning, but this would be quite boring. Try instead the Poached Smoked Haddock with rarebit glaze and a soft poached egg, or maybe something vegetarian like the Vegetarian Black Pudding with grilled mushroom, grilled tomatoes and a soft poached egg. Trust me, the vegetarian black pudding had exactly the same taste and texture like the real thing, just wonderful.
Overall, we felt spoilt rotten at Linthwaite House Hotel. What a fantastic start to our girly road trip! Leaving felt like leaving home all over again, with a heavy heart and the promise to return, but next time around with our husbands in tow.
Looking for more information? Check out my friend Coralie’s review here: https://teatimeinwonderland.co.uk/2016/08/14/windermere-linthwaite-house/. More photos can be found on the bottom of this post – but beware, you will want to pack your suitcases now for a weekend in the country!
Linthwaite House Hotel, Crook Road, Windermere, Cumbria LA23 3JA. United Kingdom. http://www.linthwaitehouse.com
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