Short Break - Lakeside Hotel & Spa, Newby Bridge
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 January 2014 | UPDATED: 13:49 24 February 2016
Even Sir Roger Moore came in from the cold for a warm welcome at The Lakeside Hotel, writes Roger Borrell
Management conference. Two words that strike fear and loathing into the hearts of executives. Many hours spent locked inside a faceless suite of rooms being told how to do your job by people who don’t seem much good at theirs.
Stifled yawns, the prospect of, at best, an average dinner and a realisation that the closest you’ll come to pleasure will be an excess of fizzy keg beer consumed in the company of equally disgruntled colleagues.
It was many years ago in a different life that I went to the Lakeside Hotel, on the south west corner of Windermere. We spent two days with industrial psychologists, who asked fascinating questions such as: ‘Which domestic item best sums up your style of management?’
‘A 30 watt light bulb.’ Ah, someone with ideas? ‘No, a bit dim and full of inert gas from that fizzy beer.’ I was marked down as a trouble maker from the start.
To be fair, I couldn’t remember much about the hotel but the old bluebirds weren’t exactly tweeting around my head when, 15 years later, we returned. How wrong I was.
While the Lakeside continues to hold conferences and weddings, staying here was a pleasure from start to finish. I’m not alone in thinking that – a couple had just checked out after their 71st visit and Sir Roger and Lady Moore chose it as a recent stopping off point on a speaking tour.
At the heart of the 75-bed hotel is a 17th century coaching in with an excellent bar serving proper, non-fizzy beer. It has a log fire and panelled walls carved with old poems that would make McGonagall blush.
From there, the hotel has grown rather than sprawled. The public rooms are comfortable and quite intimate like a small Edwardian country house. There are modern twists - the Aveda spa shines like it was built yesterday and there’s a good-looking, contemporary brasserie. Wrapped around the outside is a comfortable conservatory with glorious views over the lake. It’s full of armchairs and an enormous collection of geraniums (or pelargoniums for the pedants).
The main restaurant is overseen by a confident head chef who isn’t afraid to show off, but in a good way. My wife is still talking about the hot blackcurrant soufflé with liquorice dust and gingerbread ice cream. And the cheese board is one of the best selections I’ve seen this side of L’Enclume.
The bedrooms are bright and well-equipped, mixing the classic with the modern. It is no surprise to discover that they are refurbished on a more regular basis than most. The local staff are smiley and plentiful, many of them long-serving.
Manager Jonathan Robb has been there for 25 years and he seems to know all of the guests by name. He explains the Lakeside is not part of a chain but is owned by people who know the business and are content to plough a considerable part of the profits back into improvements. They could run their own course on how to manage a hotel.
Speaking of which, the Lakeside has taken over the small inn opposite and turned it into a modern, well-equipped venue for weddings and conferences. In such surroundings, I would have had no choice but to push the envelope with some vigour.
Push the boat out
Lakeside Hotel & Spa has four stars and its restaurant has two AA rosettes. Windermere Lake cruisers berth just a few yards from the entrance and that gives you access to many walks, towns and attractions without having to use a car. There are some good walks on the doorstep, too, and during the summer the hotel hires electric bikes. The hotel has extensive grounds and an enthusiastic gardener will give you a tour.
Lakeside Hotel, Newby Bridge, LA12 8AT. 015395 30001.