Travel review: Lakeside Hotel and Spa, Windermere

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When it comes to planning a trip away, I’m beginning to realise there are two types of traveller.

The ‘packed a week in advance’ sort, and the ‘last minute chaotic’ type.

Without a shadow of a doubt, I fall into the latter category, which is possibly why we missed our flight out of the UK on the first day of our honeymoon last summer.

It is also probably why we missed our flight home from Amsterdam in 2000, perhaps why we were stranded in a stairwell while our flight took off without us at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris in 2006, and certainly why we had nowhere to stay on arrival into a fully booked Barcelona on an under-prepared backpacking holiday back in 1998.

It is this casual disregard to punctuality, a built-in rebellion to planning that makes me a rather precarious travelling companion and my family, friends and husband furious.

When it came to spending a few days away with the woman who has taught me everything, there was no doubt things might go more smoothly for my mum and I by remaining in the UK.

A relaxing few days away without schedules, timetables or deadlines suited us, so we headed off on a ‘staycation’ to The Lake District.

We needed somewhere special, to be spoiled and somewhere easy to explore.

We found it. Our very own four star hideaway – with a spa and fine dining – on the shores of Lake Windermere in the heart of the southern Lakes.

It goes without saying we set off late, failed to write down the directions, then fought over the route – one of us armed with a map, the other shaking at a mobile route finder in her best attempt to locate a signal.

But somehow we made it, and in time for afternoon tea on the terrace at the Lakeside Hotel where our troubles began to fade away over a bowl of seafood linguine (a late lunch of course), toasted tea cakes and a glass or two of wine.

Our table was perched above a pebble beach, where a couple of red rowing boats were parked and a dozen or so ducks snuggled in groups for warmth.

At the end of an attractive mooring a sailing boat bobbed with its cheery flag glinting in the late afternoon sunshine.

A couple of Japanese tourists, who had been strolling along the shore, stopped to pose for pictures in front of Gummer’s How, a green tufty hill on the opposite bank.

The hotel’s views are joyously breathtaking. It was enough to keep us entertained on our first afternoon, and we spent the rest of the day comparing the view from the garden, our bedroom, the conservatory and the spa.

You can easily imagine Lakeside started in the 1600s as a coaching inn, a staging post for the weary traveller.

It holds an enviably convenient position on the southern tip of Windermere, which was itself such an important transport link that it became listed as a highway.

Today of course it is a main route into The Lakes – 15 minutes from the M6.

In the 1900s, those working in the thriving cotton trade of Lancashire and Yorkshire, made up the majority of the inn’s clientele as they paused on route to the local bobbin mills.

Today The Lakeside remains popular for the same ease of access and stunning vistas, but certainly offers much more luxurious amenities.

It has 75 rooms, a fine dining restaurant, modern brasserie and England’s only designated Aveda destination spa.

It is also positioned a relaxed distance away from the tourist-packed centres of Ambleside and Bowness that can still be easily reached by water, allowing travellers to avoid the congested roads at peak times of the year.

Steamers stop at Lakeside, literally by the hotel.

Boat was the transport of choice for us during our stay allowing us to mooch about Bowness where we fed the ducks, lunched at Ambleside on the northern tip of the lake, cruised the lake islands and peered at the grand lakeside houses.

We chose to eat at the hotel both nights after experiencing an impressive meal on our first at the Lakeview Restaurant. 

We guzzled tasty delights such as Muncaster crab and heritage tomato salad, poached fillets of sea bass and blackcurrant soufflé.

The hotel has a wonderfully traditional charm, and we took aperitifs by the fire while listening to the melodies of the evening’s pianist.

The same wonderful a la carte menu is also served in the modern John Ruskin’s Brasserie – all white walls and glass partitions – where we enjoyed an equally delicious dinner on the second evening.

Lighter dishes are served in the bar, which is open all day, with afternoon tea available in the conservatory.

Of course the trouble with great food is you often overeat.

However, a gym and a 17 metre pool – the latest editions to the Lakeside Hotel located in an ultra-modern extension with green flower garden roof – can help you digest.

For those who like to take things a little easier, there is a Swedish sauna and eucalyptus steam room as well as a tempting list of treatments to pick from in the therapy area.

All the facilities are exclusively for guests, so if you pick the right time to visit, you can get them all to yourself.

Put simply, Lakeside Hotel and Spa is a wonderful place to escape to.

We certainly enjoyed a refreshing few days away, and are looking forward to a trip back for the cherry blossoms in late April.


Sophie stayed at the Lakeside Hotel and Spa located on Lake Windermere, Lakeside, Newby Bridge in Cumbria, LA12 8AT.

For more information or to book, visit:, call 01539 530 001 or e-mail

The hotel is offering a 3-for-2 Easter break, rooms from just £145pn incl breakfast between Sunday April 6 and Friday April 18.

Nottingham railway station has been closed this morning as firefighters tackled a huge blaze.

Travel warning: Station closed as fire crews tackle huge blaze