3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Short break - Rothay Manor, Ambleside

PUBLISHED: 15:09 18 December 2017 | UPDATED: 15:09 18 December 2017

Rothay Manor

Rothay Manor


A weekend in the Lake District is a must-do at least once each season, and Rothay Manor, near Ambleside, offers far more than easy access to the fabulous countryside.

A newly refurbished room.
Credit: Polly BaldwinA newly refurbished room. Credit: Polly Baldwin

On arrival, Rothay Manor offered the promise of a proper old-fashioned country weekend away. Built in 1823 by a wealthy merchant from Liverpool, it was converted to a hotel in 1936, and it’s not hard to picture scenes as if from Agatha Christie novels as you approach the black and white façade, and indeed within the interior.

Recent refurbishments have updated the rooms and public spaces, yet there is still that indefinable sense of age and history; décor is calm, soothing and perhaps a little old-fashioned, but the bathrooms could have been lifted direct from a very high end London hotel. I have to confess, the room décor did rather throw me. I asked myself if the quiet thinking here had perhaps been applied to the food, about which I had heard glowing reports.

Rather than fret about it however, we headed out into glorious afternoon sunshine and took ourselves first on a walk from behind the hotel towards Ambleside, before deciding that the golden light deserved our attention at the lakeside and shot back to the car and on to Lakes Head, from where stunning views of Lake Windermere are to be had.

It’s not far from here to Bowness, and a pleasant hour or so strolling the shops and admiring the Lake some more. Having arrived relatively late, we weren’t able to plan in a decent walk, but of course the options are endless.

Pretty puddings
Credit: Polly BaldwinPretty puddings Credit: Polly Baldwin

As the sun dropped below the hills, we headed back to the hotel, where Mike disappeared into the bathroom and sank ear deep into a hot bath, while I enjoyed some undisturbed Strictly action. The fresh air and complete absence of demands from children, pets and the myriad of jobs that make up the average weekend sending me into a pleasant stupor, the realisation that our dinner reservation was only minutes away resulted in a flurry of activity and somewhat flustered arrival at the restaurant. Not to worry, of course, the service is so good we immediately felt relaxed again, properly looked after in that unmistakeable northern way, as if your arrival has simply made their day and how lovely it is that they can bring you a G&T and discuss the beer options (at great length and with great knowledge) before bringing that too.

Diners can choose from a nine course tasting menu, or opt to dine a la carte. We chose the latter and Oh. My. Goodness. So good. Before our first courses arrived, we were brought a plate of freshly baked Sourdough Bread and Beef Dripping with Pancetta, Shallots and Chives. Yes, that was our initial reaction too. Beef dripping? Really?! It was fabulous, wickedly good. I can’t believe it ever fell out of fashion, to be honest, although perhaps our grandparents weren’t too up on the whole pancetta and shallot thing.

Starters were also simply incredible. We both opted for Chicken Wings with Sweetcorn, Miso, Sherry Vinegar Caramel, Smoked Butter and Ice Lettuce. I have no idea how chef Dan McGeorge manages it, but each tiny morsel was packed with exquisite flavour and we could easily have called for seconds, but then an unexpected treat arrived in the form of Haricot Bean and Chorizo Espuma. You may have to forgive the amount of superlatives and similes I am likely to use when attempting to describe this; it was fabulous - light as air, earthy yet positively celestial in taste, with a scattering of fennel seeds and crumbs of chorizo. Pure heaven.

As my main course I chose Loin and Shoulder of Ambleside Herdwick Lamb, with Jerusalem Artichoke, Cevenne Onion, Globe Artichoke and Cured Spinach. The meat was incredible; the pink through the middle loin sliced like butter and a stack of shredded shoulder was soft as you could dream. Roasted Jerusalem artichoke came as a wonderful revelation to me and the whole dish was rounded perfection. Mike had opted for Venison with a Celeriac and Smoked Bacon Gratin, Purple Kale, Elderberry and Linseed. The slightly ferrous kale had the perfect counterpoint in the fragrant, sweet jus and the meat was rich and tender. We had been recommended to enjoy a glass of Merlot with our dinner and from first sip it was clear that this food was exactly what red wine was invented for.

Chicken Wings with SweetcornChicken Wings with Sweetcorn

A tiny palate cleanser was presented next; Lemon Mousse with a Limoncello jelly, White Chocolate and a Ginger Honeycomb Crumb. For me, the crumb was a texture too far, a rare misstep from a dazzlingly talented chef. For Mike, this was enough and coffee called. I just had to take it a step further however and requested the Chocolate Dome, a vast edifice that came packed with raspberry sorbet, rose meringue and a heavy chocolate mousse. Each bite was delicious, but could easily have been half the size and still beaten me! I did my best though, I assure you…

Returning to our room, we declared that a return to Rothay Manor should definitely feature on our list of things to do in 2018. For sheer gastronomical delight it’s the place to be.


More from Out & About

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
Friday, September 7, 2018

This varied selection of walks are all within ten miles of the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Natural Beauty.

Read more
Arnside Silverdale
Monday, September 10, 2018

Making a television programme about the Lakes has re-affirmed Paul Rose’s deep affection for the area

Read more
Lake District
Friday, September 7, 2018

A succesful application could see the restoration of the Japanese Gardens and the creation of a water sports centre.

Read more

Is it a village? Is it a town? Who cares when the locals take such a pride in making this such a lovely place to visit

Read more
Thursday, August 30, 2018

A new survey method could unlock the secrets of the bog bush cricket in Lancashire following their discovery on Little Woolden Moss, Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Ellie Sherlock joins the search.

Read more
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Heritage venues across the region – many of them not normally open to the public – will welcome visitors this month

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

It’s officially England’s favourite flower and if you want to see some beautiful examples, follow Linda Viney to Mawdesley

Read more
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A circular walk which skirts the Lune estuary and takes in the Lancaster Canal and the railway line.

Read more

Behind the ancient sandstone facade of Browsholme Hall is a remarkable ethos of 21st century sustainability and care for the environment.

Read more
Thursday, August 16, 2018

Keswick really is a gem of a town – just ask anyone from jeweller Brian Fulton to mountaineering legend Sir Chris Bonington

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