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£4.5 million renovation for the Forest Side Hotel in Grasmere

PUBLISHED: 17:39 31 December 2014 | UPDATED: 16:04 27 April 2016

Andrew Wildsmith and The Forest Side Hotel

Andrew Wildsmith and The Forest Side Hotel


Grasmere’s new romantics

Interior designer James Mackie thinks for a moment about the style of Grasmere’s new luxury hotel and concludes: ‘I promise you one thing – it won’t be boring.’

James, who is based in Lancaster, is working with hotelier Andrew Wildsmith to create a stunning new Lakeland venue. At present, it’s hard to imagine the run down Forest Side Hotel being a mecca for fine dining and opulent surroundings.

The rooms are stripped to the bare boards and plasterwork, old furniture and fittings are piled up in the middle of rooms and gardeners have just managed to prevent rhododendrons invading the property.

However, Andrew has a clear vision for the Forest Side which will have cost a grand total of £4.5 million when it opens this summer. It is a vision shared by James

‘It’s a very exciting place to be working,’ he said. ‘There are not many places left in the Lake District where you have an opportunity to put your stamp on it.

‘The interiors are going to be spectacular and the watchword for this project is

“romantic”. We want people to come here and really remember the place.

‘A lot of hotels go over the top, competing to outdo each other with opulence and colour. We want something that is timeless, beautiful and romantic in every way.

‘There will be an exquisite, subtle colour schemes. I’d described it as beautifully restrained, incredibly calm and appealing to both men and women.’

Each of the 21 bedrooms will have a four-poster but not the old-style dust-gathering draped affairs. ‘It will be a modern take with a nod to tradition,’ added James.

Owner Andrew is the driving force behind Hipping Hall, the former Lancashire Life Hotel of the Year at Cowan Bridge, near Kirkby Londsdale. More recently he has also taken over The Ryebeck in Bowness.

Food will be a major part of the offering at the Forest Side and, as a statement of intent, he has recruited award-winning Kendal chef Kevin Tickle.

Kevin, who previously worked at Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume, and Rogan and Company in Cartmel, said: ‘There will be an a la carte menu alongside a 12 course tasting menu, and a massive emphasis on natural flavours.’

Kevin’s talents as a forager were featured recently in Lancashire Life and with a neglected kitchen garden and 45 acres of grounds and fellside to go at, he will certainly be able to follow his passion.

Andrew added: ‘I’ve been looking for a hotel in the heart of the Lakes for several years and the Forest Side is just fantastic – it’s got so much potential.

‘We are stripping it right back and completely renovating, although we will keep the original features to ensure the old character is retained.

‘It will be “Luxury Cumbrian” – downstairs there will be a cosy bar and elegant lounge and all of the 21 bedrooms will be grand. It’s a really exciting project.’


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