CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Lancashire Life today CLICK HERE

Short break - Lindeth Howe Hotel, Bowness on Windermere

PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 October 2018

Festoons of fake greenery hanging from the ceiling

Festoons of fake greenery hanging from the ceiling

not Archant

A Lake District hotel with a literary history now has a striking new look. Beautiful or just a bit bonkers? Roger Borrell reports

Wooden crates have been attached to the wallsWooden crates have been attached to the walls

It seems these days every hotel needs something special, something that makes it stand out from the crowd. A unique selling point, to borrow a phrase from the wonderful world of public relations.

If you need a distinguishing feature, then they don’t come much more distinguished than being the former home of the children’s author Beatrix Potter.

The Potters were regular visitors to Lindeth Howe, near Bowness, when it was a private home and Beatrix illustrated some of her books there. She was smitten by the house and when it came on the market, like a good daughter with a few bob in the bank, she bought it for her widowed old mum.

That connection is gold dust to an hotelier. We all love Beatrix but in some countries they are seriously besotted, travelling halfway around the world to buy key rings with Squirrel Nutkin’s features embossed in plastic.

The beautiful old fireplace in the main loungeThe beautiful old fireplace in the main lounge

Nevertheless, it seems the owners thought the old place needed a little more oomph so they hired interior designers who spent three months conceiving a new look. A refurb of the downstairs lounges and bar – along with investment in the 34 bedrooms – cost about £1 million.

The owners describe the result as ‘bold’ and aimed at ‘broadening its appeal to visitors.’ You could also call it ‘busy.’ It no longer uses the words ‘country house’ to change ‘outdated perceptions’ about the place.

The result is certainly eye-catching. So eye-catching it’s hard to know where to start so let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first. The bedroom was big on comfort, well appointed with the sort of furnishings you’d expect from…well, a country house hotel. The views from the room were breathtaking and the bathroom was ultra-modern. All boxes were ticked.

The main dining room – untouched by the interior designers, as far as I can see – is upmarket traditional in looks and the food is beautifully presented.In the main it is well-cooked. A crab risotto had quite a bit of cartilage that hadn’t been removed but the rest of the meal was just what you would expect from a very competent 2 AA rosette kitchen. It’s not going to get a Michelin star but I don’t think that’s what they want. Besides, Michelin stars are so yesterday in the Lakes.

A profusion of knick-knackeryA profusion of knick-knackery

Back to the décor. I should start by saying most of the online reviews heap praise on the new look. Several say it has the ‘wow’ factor. I agree up to a point. Several times I said ‘Wow’ then added: ‘Why have they done that?’ Barring some high level banquettes near the bar, the furniture is fairly conventional in style with big brass tacks and button backs but it’s upholstered in a glorious miasma of patterns from sober plaids and duck egg leather to zingy kingfisher blue velvet and that trendy multi-coloured patchwork material that makes you cross-eyed if you look at it for too long.

In the lounge the first thing that strikes you is not the beautifully ornate old ceiling but more than a dozen rough-hewn wooden crates attached to the walls and containing what can only be described as ‘stuff’. Knick-knackery like old cameras, fake ferns and toadstools under glass domes. This theme spreads into the main lounge with plaster animals attached to the walls and a profusion of fake greenery and giant light bulbs on pulleys that look like they came from a steam punk’s jumble sale. Linking the two main rooms is an extraordinary cream carpet specially woven to include giant colourful insects and characters, I assume, from Potter stories.

A side function room is festooned with yet more fake plants hanging from the ceiling and it’s impossible to see some of the walls because so much ‘stuff’ has been glued to them.

I asked a couple of staff members what they thought and I think they were being polite when they expressed some bewilderment. But, hey, if the owners wanted different that is just what they’ve got. See it for yourself – I guarantee you won’t be bored by the decor.

The words 'country house' have been dropped from the hotel's nameThe words 'country house' have been dropped from the hotel's name

Traditionalists might feel some young interior designers have been over-indulged here and question whether in five years anyone will be saying: ‘Well, this has really stood the test of time…’

Perhaps the strangest thing for me was that in a building that once housed one of our great authors, the walls are covered with old hardback books rendered useless because they have been glued on and fanned out to create some sort of trendy origami effect. There seems a certain irony there.

I’m just glad I don’t have to dust it all.

Roger Borrell was a guest of Lindeth Howe Hotel at Lindeth Drive, Longtail Hill, Bowness on Windermere, LA23 3JF. 015394 45759,

More from Out & About

Having 10,000 students on the doorstep is helping this West Lancashire town centre to thrive

Read more

In 1972, a hoard of ancient silver coins was discovered in Prestwich. These days, they’re hoping to strike gold with an unbeatable mix of community, creativity and independent shops but for one craftsperson, silver is still the way to go.

Read more
Friday, October 12, 2018

Pendle Hill is one of the most iconic landmarks in Lancashire and you can enjoy the beautiful countryside, spectacular views and fascinating from a number of starting points in the Ribble Valley.

Read more
Pendle Hill Ribble Valley Walks
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Our walks expert John Lenehan plots a scenic course that also provides a little Lancashire history.

Read more

Steps are being taken to bridge the divides that have grown between communities and made Blackburn one of the most segregated towns in the country.

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

With the countryside turning stunning shades of red and gold, this is probably the best time to pull on your boots and go for a heavenly hike.

Read more
Lake District Walks Autumn

There is always something surprising in this old Lancashire village which attracts visitors from across the world

Read more
Thursday, October 4, 2018

Many youngsters their age are content to play with their toys, but a Bowness brother and sister are happiest in their walking boots.

Read more
Thursday, September 27, 2018

Britain’s biggest independent flower show attracts huge crowds and the admiration of BBC celebrities

Read more
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

When it was announced The Willow Garden Project in Fleetwood was to be the recipient of BBC North West Garden created for The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Tatton Flower Show, there were cheers all round.

Read more
Friday, September 21, 2018

The first ever National GetOutside Day takes place on Sunday 30 September with the aim of getting 1 million people active outdoors across the UK.

Read more

Meet some of the devilishly successful people who make this glorious Ribble Valley town tick.

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

The site was designated Lancashire’s first ever ‘Local Nature Reserve’ in 1968 and is also designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Read more
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A striking sculpture attracts John Lenehan to this circular walk through some oustanding scenery.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Property Search