It had been an age since I last travelled to Cumbria and visited the Lake District but after a weekend to remember at The Cranleigh Hotel, near Lake Windermere, I don’t think I’ll be leaving it so long again
After the excesses of Christmas it was bliss to zoom out of the city and head west onto the winding country roads in search of some much needed R and R. My partner and I were heading for The Lakes, Bowness-on-Windermere to be precise, where we were booked to spend the night in a luxury room at The Cranleigh, a five-star guest house a minute’s walk from the picturesque Lake Windermere.
As we rolled down Kendal Road towards the centre of the small Cumbrian town I spotted The Cranleigh’s pretty Victorian exterior and was able to park literally on the hotel’s doorstep. This was a welcome relief as my partner often struggles to grasp the concept of packing for one night, and today was no exception.
After a warm welcome and hassle-free check-in we were shown to luxury room number five, a newly refurbished kingsize room located on the first floor of the main house. The guesthouse consists of 19 tastefully appointed, boutique rooms, each with a unique twist on the design, making The Cranleigh the type of place you could return to again and again and still enjoy a different take on the tranquility, comfort and luxury on offer.
The small hotel is rumoured to be a retreat favoured by discerning celebrities and though we didn’t spot any familiar faces during our stay, I can see why the great and the good would make the pilgrimage to this quiet corner of the North West. The boutique rooms are divided into three categories: standard, superior and luxury but three rooms boast a level of luxury that defy categorisation. Room 17, The Hideaway, is a stunning super kingsize suite with fantastic facilities and an amazing bathroom featuring a tranquility spa bath for two.
Rooms 18 and 19 are two more jewels in The Cranleigh’s crown, though to call them simply rooms would be doing them a massive disservice. ‘Room’ 18, the Sanctuary, is located in a converted bungalow that has been transformed into a fantastic private haven. Its features include high ceilings, natural beams, a remote control log fire and Bose surround sound system as well as a hot tub. The Cranleigh is confident that it is the most luxurious private accommodation the Lake District has ever seen and The Hideout, located some 600 yards from the main hotel, is equally lavish: another extremely private, self-contained property perfect for a romantic retreat.
Not to be outdone, our Luxury room oozed style with a tartan goosedown duvet, matching wallpaper and a touch of glamour supplied by a stunning Vivienne Westwood-style light fitting that hung elegantly in the centre of the room. We were delighted to find some complimentary chocolates, champagne on ice and Huggie, a cuddly bear who came with a note expressing his desire to be adopted (for a small fee). My partner quickly fell in love with him and gave me the puppy dog eyes but I quickly nipped all thoughts of doing a ‘Brangelina’ in the bud, there would be
no adopting this weekend. Besides, looking around Huggie’s current crib, it far exceeds our humble home.
For instance, could Huggie face life without being able to watch the football scores come in from the comfort of a warm bubble bath as I did later that
day thanks to the television fitted in the wall above the bath. He would most definitely miss the leather sleigh bed with Tempur mattress and pillows that I was afraid to lie on too long for fear of falling into
a three-hour sleep coma. He certainly wouldn’t
have exclusive use of a luxury three million pound refurbished spa located a two minute walk away that all guests at The Cranleigh can enjoy, and as for the superb home-cooked breakfast each morning, using the finest locally sourced ingredients, he can forget it!
The weather was disappointingly dull but we refused to let the day escape us, so armed with a complimentary Cranleigh umbrella we headed out into the drizzle. The scenery at the Lakes has a beautiful charm that not even a damp January afternoon can quell and the fresh air and bracing stroll around the water did wonders for our Christmas cobwebs. After a brief window shop we did what most visitors to Bowness do and picked one of the charming local pubs for a late lunch. Within two minutes of finishing our food and settling the bill we were back in the warmth of our guesthouse. The Cranleigh’s location is ideal, just on the fringes of the village centre, a stone’s throw from the lake with good access to the road out of Bowness should you wish to explore further afield.
The staff took mercy on our weather-beaten appearance and offered to bring us some fresh coffee and biscuits as we warmed up in the beautiful lounge before a roaring fire. Hot drinks, more biscuits and the day’s papers completed a thoroughly relaxing afternoon and set us up nicely for our evening meal.
A local pub-restaurant had been recommended, The Brown Horse Inn, a five minute drive up the road. We retreated to our room and while my partner set up base camp at the dressing table, I ran a bath and played DJ via the room’s iPod docking station.
After a friendly cheerio and nod in the right direction from the attentive hotel staff, we were soon at the bar of the Brown Horse Inn. We weren’t in the mood for a quiet, formal meal so were delighted to find that the Brown Horse struck the perfect balance between traditional country pub and fantastic food. We were quickly seated in the restaurant, which was all low beamed ceilings, log fires and stone flags underfoot, with a fine collection of memorabilia on the walls including a set of skis that looked at least 100 years old.
What came was three courses of bliss that featured a fantastic 21 day mature 10oz rib eye steak with twice cooked chips, tomato, mushroom and creamed peppercorn reduction for yours truly and a delicious roast rump of lamb, caramelised onion puree and confit cabbage with grilled artichokes for my better half. We left wondering if we’d ever need to eat again after such a fantastic feed and slowly retired down the road to our rest-stop for the night.
The next day there were big decisions to be made over croissants and coffee in the breakfast lounge: The Cranleigh Full English or Eggs Benedict? Never one to turn down a cooked breakfast, I was surprised to find myself craving the toasted breakfast treat instead of the hearty Cumberland sausage et al. When my muffin with spinach, fresh parma ham, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce arrived I wasn’t disappointed. My partner opted for the smoked salmon version which was equally beautiful in presentation and taste.
After packing and bidding an emotional goodbye to Huggie we checked out and prepared for a more thorough exploration of Bowness. Even though our stay had come to an end the staff promised more tea and biscuits in the lounge before our journey home, which was a really nice touch.
As we wended our way out of the Lake District I thought to myself how lucky we are to live just a couple of hours away from this beautiful part of the world and made a New Year’s resolution to take full advantage of this.
Find out more about The Cranleigh's breakfasts here.
Published on 03 Jan 12 by Living North