Short Break - Inn on the Lake, Lake Ullswater, Glenridding
PUBLISHED: 14:31 06 November 2012 | UPDATED: 12:15 28 February 2013
This classic lakeland hotel deserves extra stars just for the incredible view. Roger Borrell reports
What do you see when you throw open the curtains of your hotel bedroom? A brick wall? Maybe the asphalt grey of a carpark, a busy road or, if you are lucky, a pocket hankerchief of greenery?
When I opened the curtains at the Inn on the Lake I was presented with the sort of view that would inspire a chap of a more lyrical bent to write a short overture or dash off some uplifting piece of poetry.
Hes exaggerating, I hear you say. Only very slightly. I dont know about the views from other parts of this fine old establishment but mine was of soaring, cathedral-high fells soaked in the warm oranges and dark greens of autumn, swallows performing acrobatics, yachts nodding on a sparkling Lake Ullswater, a garden of great beauty with a manicured parterre and a Victorian gazebo, lawns running down to the waters edge. And all bathed in magnificent morning sunshine.
That last point is, of course, part of the great Lakeland lottery but good weather isnt essential if you have somewhere special to stay and the Inn on the Lake at Glenridding ticks boxes for people looking for old school relaxation and comfort.
Its a grandiose pile that was built in the early 1800s not just for travellers but for those connected with the lucrative lead mining industry. Steamers started sailing on the lake in the late 1850s and that brought in many more people curious about this remote corner of England.
During the First World War it was used by the military to train soldiers to deal with mustard gas attacks and over the generations it declined to a poor state of repair. Inevitably, a developer was in the wings ready to turn it into flats.
Happily, they were thwarted and in 2000 it was bought by the Graves family, steeped in the hotel business with a stable of Lakeland places such as Armathwaite Hall.
In recent times they have upgraded bedrooms, adding balconies to lake view rooms, and invested over 400K on a ground floor refurbishment.
This has made it a popular place for weddings and the hotel is now busy with longer term plans to add an orangery, 32 new bedrooms, a pool and conference facilities. Add to this the fact that it has just secured AA four star status and a second AA Rosette for their restaurant and you have to admit that things are riding high at what was once the plain old Ullswater Hotel.
So whats it like to stay there? The Inn doesnt pretend to cool, uber-modern or reportsurban chic. Thats not what its about. This is a substantial establishment that sets its ambitious sights on the good things about classic British hotels.
The public rooms have quality furnishings and fittings, crisp and new but conservative in style. The chairs are comfortable and the carpet piles are deep. The attentive staff are enthusiastic, ready and willing to chat but equally happy to leave you in peace.
The dinning room is imposing yet lit in a way to give a more intimate quality at night and the talented head chef, Fraser Soutar, uses many local ingredients to create dishes that tread that fine line needed to satisfy palates tuned to different styles. His dinner menu tempts with wild sea trout, Galloway venison and well-cooked Lakeland lamb. You are unlikely to go to bed hungry.
Those upgraded bedrooms display money well spent. They are comfortable and slightly more contemporary than the rest of the hotel, with big headboards, the odd splash of colour and high thread-count sheets. The bathrooms are luxurious and extremely well furnished.
The success of the hotel is testament to general manager Gary Wilson and his team who have had to deal with a constant stream of inspectors in recent months as they gathered extra stars and rosettes.
However, Im told that this is nothing new. While the owners are very supportive, they also like to carry out their own very regular spot checks.
And unlike the rest of us, they never say when they are coming.
Inn on the Lake, Lake Ullswater, Glenridding, Cumbria, CA11 0PE.
Tel: 017684 82444