It was a lovely surprise to receive an email from Gilpin Hotel and Lake House Lodge saying I’d won a 2 night stay for 2 in their Relais & Chateaux accommodation in the Lake District. I ‘ummed’ and ‘aarred’ about how we could smuggle the children in, but everyone convinced me that it should be a break for just the 2 of us. A time to enjoy each others company again, as husband and wife, with no distractions or interruptions.
When the gates opened at the entrance to the driveway of the Lake House, I could tell this was going to be a very special place to stay. In the past, Jez and I have stayed in some really spectacular places, an ancient chateau in Rome, an exclusive safari lodge in Krugar National Park, the Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe, a log cabin on the beach in Mozambique, a fancy apartment in Barcelona, a boutique style hotel in Lymington, a traditional family home in Majorca….we have been very fortunate (we have also stayed in some rather dodgy places too, including one hotel in France which had astro-turf on the floor of the bathroom, a very unhygienic caravan on Lake Windermere and a very dangerous B&B in the back-streets of Johannesburg).
We were welcomed to the Lake House by Chloe, an attractive young lady with humility and gentleness in her eyes. She showed us around the house. Every room was decorated and furnished to the highest quality, every ornament; chair and flower had been selected and positioned with the utmost care and attention to detail.
We were shown up the large, curved staircase to our room ‘Maud’ which is a stunning, giant suite facing out over the private lake and also across the valley. The room was immaculate and carried a eastern theme of passion and beauty, the bathroom sparkled and there was an array of Molton Brown products, which I became very excited about.
We unpacked and relaxed, the lake view was simply beautiful. At the foot of the garden was a little jetty with 2 seats and tied up next to the jetty was a little rowing boat you could take over to the private island on the lake. It reminded me of Swallows and Amazons and I was drawn to adventure out on the little boat. Jez and I had a quiet time of prayer, giving thanks and praise to God, our appreciation for His lovely creation#
In the evening we went down to the lounge to enjoy an aperitif, we started chatting to 2 lovely ladies who were also staying, they were very glamorous and we enjoyed listening to their life stories. They were obviously both well educated and well travelled and for such elegant ladies they had a very fun sense of humour.
Our chauffeur collected us at 8:30pm and took us to the Gilpin Hotel to have dinner. We sat in the large lounge for a short while, enjoying another aperitif along with some canapés of homemade crisps, roasted peanuts and a selection of olives, followed by some smoked salmon and caviar, goats cheese with a golden raisin and an olive and pastry swirl. The attention to detail was to perfection, Jez and I sat and people-watched for a while until our table was ready.
After a pre-starter of pork terrine, we indulged in some homemade breads and our starter of smoked salmon fillet, with cauliflower and horseradish puree and batter drops, this was accompanied with a white wine chosen specifically to go with the dish.
Our main course was 3 different cuts of lamb on a garlic mash with green beans, I’ve never tasted lamb like it and we were offered a red wine from the south of France to accompany the dish.
Our pre-desert was a mango and coconut sorbet, Jez chose the cheeses and biscuits along with a recommended Madeira desert wine and I chose the pistachio and chocolate dessert which was divine and accompanied with a rich dessert wine. We enjoyed coffee in the lounge accompanied by home-made chocolate truffles before being chauffeured back to the Lake House for a sound nights sleep.
Amazingly, Jez woke about 7am for his breakfast as he planned to meet up with friends, also staying in the Lake District, to climb Scarfell Pike, I wanted to take advantage of a lie-in but was very surprised to wake up at 10:30am!! I went down for breakfast, expecting the kitchen to be closed, but they were waiting for me and I enjoyed a banquet of a breakfast overlooking the lake.
After breakfast, I enjoyed an hour long Indian head massage followed by a little rest, I then walked around the lake and took in the beautiful scenery of the location. I felt very peaceful, relaxed and blessed.
I haven’t mentioned the children up to now and I think I’m doing quite well, I’ve only phoned home twice to see how they are and although I am missing them I am enjoying this ‘me’ time immensely. At the moment, I am worried for Jez, I am not sure how he is going to tackle Scarfell Pike on such little sleep, I do hope he is OK.
My afternoon was simply lounging around either in the lounge area or in our suite or sitting on the jetty. I really wanted to take the rowing boat across the lake, but it was really windy and I wasn’t sure I wanted the humiliation of being rescued from the freezing water. I treated myself to a glass of wine before taking a shower, smothering myself in as much Molton Brown as I possibly could, even taking advantage of the Molton Brown cotton wool ear buds!
The Mountaineer returned just after 6pm with stories of his grand adventure, he had achieved his goal and was full of beans. We spent some time in the lounge before being collected by the chauffeur for our evening meal. I thought it would be impossible to improve on the previous night, but the staff and food was second to none. Canapés were chicken satay, spicy wonton and salmon in a cucumber roll, all very tasty indeed. Our pre-starters of sliced carpaccio was delicious, once again I chose the salmon starter, Jez had the most amazing soup consisting of carrot, coconut and ginger with a ravioli in the centre.
For my main I had the most tender veal with Juliette carrots and shallots and beautifully prepared potatoes, pre-dessert was passion fruit and chocolate mousse which cleared my palette perfectly for the chocolate and pistachio dessert, I had to choose once again as it was so delicious.
I loved the way the wine waiter introduced each selected wine with each course, giving us the history, geography and preparation of the wine with real passion. It was amazing listening to him and I would have loved to have understood a little bit more about what he was telling us. All of the staff were so friendly and quite good fun considering the level of clientele, they made us feel relaxed and very special.
We both slept really well with our bellies full and a bed the size of our lounge! In the morning we enjoyed the most amazing porridge, served with cream and a tot of whiskey – what a combination! The Full English was cooked to perfection and the staff, once again, were really attentive. We delayed checking out, fortunately the beauty therapist was able to give me a pedicure. So an hour later (and a little snooze while having my legs massaged) we got ready to leave the Lake House, a most idyllic and unforgettable place which I could recommend without hesitation.
Take a look here for the perfect place to stay in The Lake District.