Opulence and muddy boots make for a Lake District destination with fine food and views
The moment you swing your vehicle into the gravelled car park of the Rothay Garden Hotel, you just know you are in for a quality Lake District experience.
I visited shortly after Lockdown 1 and it was immediately apparent that health and safety and covid guidelines were being taken extremely seriously.
Guests are expected to wear masks in the hotel unless eating or drinking; rooms have stickers on the room doors to highlight a deep clean has taken place and housekeeping do not enter the room during your stay. However, you can request towels, toiletries etc at any time.
Rothay Garden is renowned for good food and wine and it also boasts stunning accommodation, a fabulous spa, beautiful gardens and it is in an amazing location in Grasmere.
Following the UK Government’s four-week lockdown announcement, the hotel is looking forward to reopening and welcoming guests back on December 2.
Oh, my word, boutique all the way. It is a luxuriously elegant Grade II listed country house retreat.
This four-star hotel delivers a fabulously unique combination of oozing opulence while welcoming muddy boot wearers. Dogs are also welcomed and there are plenty of areas for our four-legged friends around the hotel and they can join their owners in the Brathay Lounge at dining times.
And for a spot of decadence, the classic afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, home-made scones with clotted cream and home-made jam, mini cakes and desserts is not to be missed.
The Rothay Garden’s bedrooms and suites, 30 in total, have won numerous awards.There are six different tiers of bedrooms and suites, all spacious and individually decorated, many with a balcony, French doors or private patio offering the most incredible views.
I stayed in the junior loft suite Stone Arthur which is named after the fell over which it looks. It is on the hotel’s second floor and had the comfiest king size bed and separate seating area.
The food at Rothay Gardens is exceptional and is the best I’ve had in Grasmere, Ambleside and Windermere over the last few years.
The restaurant is celebrated for its cuisine and one of only a handful in the area to have consistently been awarded two coveted AA rosettes.
I thoroughly enjoyed a different Lakes trip – a six-hour hike and then dressing up for dinner for the Garden Restaurant experience with its contemporary furniture and lovely views overlooking the hotel’s two acres of gardens.
More than one of the team mentioned the hotel’s kitchens were managed by Andrew Burton and Adrian Kneeshaw, who have both been at the hotel for more than 20 years. The restaurant staff could not be better advocates for the fine food and their knowledge, enthusiasm and appreciation of it shone through.
My starter of seared tuna loin with Niçoise salad, quail egg and balsamic glaze was picturesque, elegant and delightful, an excellent prelude to the duet of Cumbrian beef with celeriac purée, sautéed wild mushrooms, fondant potatoes, asparagus and red wine jus. Hearty and equally aesthetically pleasing – the beef was simply a melt-in-the-mouth triumph.
To conclude, a lemon tart with rosemary sponge, fried white chocolate, strawberries and strawberry ice cream was as good as it sounds – everyone must try fried white chocolate at least once in their life.
A lovely rich and velvety Malbec worked well with every course.
We were proudly informed that many of the hotel’s guests return two or three times a year and I can fully appreciate why.
The Riverside Spa is a fabulous addition to the hotel facilities, with slots booked through the reception team to ensure compliance to covid guidelines.
The HydroSpa air jets and water cannons blast away any walking aches and pains while you savour the floor-to-ceiling views of the surrounding fells.
The Herbal Pine Sauna and Aromatherapy Room were understandably not operational so we spent more time on the heated infra-red loungers and finished off with a Monsoon Shower.
Worth getting out of bed for
If you fancy an invigorating 90-minute walk, with some out-of-breath moments blended with breathtaking beauty, then I strongly recommend the Coffin Route (in reverse) to Rydal then onto Ambleside, so called because coffins used to be carried from Rydal to the church in Grasmere. Head to the Wordsworth Centre in the centre of Grasmere to pick it up.
I will be one of the band of many returning guests. Not just because of the unrivalled food, wine, rooms, spa and location, but because of the staff – from front-of-house to the restaurant and housekeeping, they went out of their way to cater for all guest needs and ensure they had a great time. Added to my Christmas wishlist are hotel vouchers for a post-lockdown 2021 treat.
The hotel’s website outlines a host of offers for various breaks away including the “Ultimate Lake District Staycation” which has been launched by two hotels, Rothay Garden and Borrowdale Gates, near Keswick, comprising four nights’ bed and breakfast including two dinners (one at each hotel) from £610 per room (a discount of more than 25% off usual prices). For details call 017687 77204 or visit www.rothaygarden.com
ROTHAY GARDEN HOTEL, Broadgate, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9RJ, (+44 (0)1539 435334, Email: [email protected], www.rothaygarden.com)