Gilpin Hotel and Lake House, The Ultimate Foodie Destination

Gilpin Hotel and Lake House is located near Windermere in the Lake District and was originally built as a private residence in 1901, the house was owned by the current owners family from 1919 until 1968. 19 years after being sold, it was bought back into the Cunliffe family, when John Cunliffe bought it back in 1987 and that’s when this beautiful Edwardian home, began its transformation into a luxury hotel. Over time, The Gilpin has also gained recognition, for previously being home to one of the norths Michelin Starred restaurants, HRiSHi.

The hotel is still managed by the Cunliffe family, now run by Barney and Zoë Cunliffe. Recently the hotels restaurants have gone through some major changes, including some refurbishment, and not one, but three new head chefs. Two of these are brand new to Gilpin, Ollie Bridgewater (Previously The Fat Duck) and Tom ‘Westy’ Westerland, who previously competed on The Great British Menu.

Now this destination hotel is aiming to put itself firmly on the map, and to become one of the ‘foodie’ destinations of 2023. With one of the new restaurants, Source, habing already gone on to retain a Michelin Star (previously held by HRiSHi), the year is off to a cracking start.

As well as launching the new restaurants, Gilpin is also home to some great accommodation options, which make is great for the ultimate foodie getaway as well as the perfect spot for special occasions and treats. With a slogan of being ‘filled with love and laughter’ and ‘lots of luxury, and zero pretentiousness’, it definitely sounds like a great place to visit to me.

In order to really check out what an overnight stay could offer, we headed up to Windermere on a sunny Sunday morning to try out the experience for ourselves. Driving from close to the city centre, the journey to the lakes is rather pleasant and on a Sunday took only 1 hr 20mins.

On arrival we headed over to the reception area, just to let them know that we had arrived, although we did not need to check in just yet, as first we had pre-booked lunch at Gilpin Spice, one of the three restaurant offerings within the hotel.

Gilpin Spice is now under the reigns of Aakash Ohol, previously sous chef at The Gilpins HRiSHi. The restaurant serves both lunch and dinner menus, with Asian influenced cuisine.

With a selection of soups, salads, small and large plates, there is plenty to choose from.

We opted to share a couple of small plates as starters and a couple of their large plates for mains.

The small plates we chose were a Chilli Paneer and a Chicken Satay and both were incredibly tasty.

For mains we shared a Beef Featherblade and Pork Belly.

Featherblade Steak

The Beef was soft and the broth was complex, yet subtle, with each forkful, leaving you wanting more.

Pork Belly

For me the star of the show was the pork belly with a sweet and sour sauce.

After lunch, we were able to check into our room, but before doing so, we also took a little tour around the grounds and a sneak peak in some of the other rooms and suites.

There are a range of accommodation styles at Gilpin Hotel and Lake House to suit all tastes and budgets, these include Spa Lodges or Suites (With there own in room saunas/steam rooms and large stone baths from £670 in the winter or £890 in the summer), or rooms in the hotel itself, including classic and suite options, which start at just £220 in the winter, or from £295 in the summer months.

The accommodation that we were booked into, was not in the hotel or its grounds though, but in The Gilpin Lake House. Opened in 2010, it was originally bought by the Cunliffes as a small dwelling by a lake, with no utilities but perfect for picnics. Still to this day, it is a place of tranquillity and calm, perfect for an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The Lake House is located just over a mile away from The Gilpin Hotel, and has just 6 bedrooms, so it is more like a private cottage with staff than a conventional hotel. The 12 guests are all free to use the facilities, including beautiful gardens, a large lake and a stunning lounge area with a bar as well as a stand alone restaurant, which is now under the watchful eye of Tom ‘Westy’ Westerland, called Knipe. Because of The Lake House’s small and intimate setting, it is more like being in someone’s home, rather than a hotel.

The picturesque lake at The Lake House
The Boathouse on The Lake

The grounds are vast and the views are gorgeous, from the Jetty, to the Boathouse and with only 12 guests ever staying in the accommodation, there is always a spot to relax.

Maud is one of just six rooms

We were staying in a room called Maud, a large and beautifully appointed room. It is one of the rooms that doesn’t have its own bath, although with so much booked in, we wouldn’t have had time to use it anyway.

The room is very well equipped and has so much space, including a super comfortable sofa, tea and Nespresso machine and lots of wardrobe and cupboard space.

The large screen TV that was placed in the room looked great, however I am wondering if anyone actually gets time to watch it, I mean, why would you with beautiful surroundings, swimming pool and hot tub to explore.

6am view from the room – who wouldn’t want to wake up to this

One of the real standout features of this room though, other than its size, was the gorgeous views over the lake that you could wake up to.

As guests of The Lake House, you can also get booked in for a Jetty Spa Trail, which includes use of the the spa facilities on site, as well as a treatment in their very special room in the canopies.

Whilst visiting, we also got to check out ‘The Jetty Trail’ ourselves. It started with a relaxing massage in the treatment room with some of the most spectacular views over the picturesque grounds.

We were able to choose which treatment we wanted as part of the Trail, and while I went for a firm pressured, full body massage, India decided to indulge in an Indian style, head shoulder and neck massage treatment, although I’m not sure if she thought she had to given it and she, shared the same name!

After the treatment, we were led down to the gorgeous little boathouse on the lake, here we had time to chill and indulge in an afternoon tea. It is a super place to relax, and even with the temperature outside being on the chilly side, the heating inside, made it super cosy.

I have to say that its the first time I’ve sat there and absolutely loved drinking a pot of chamomile tea, and I am not sure if it was the setting or the amazing massage I had just had, but I was super relaxed.

After the afternoon tea, we got to chill out some more in the sauna and indoor pool, before then enjoying a soak in the hot tub with a glass of champagne.

I also have to admit, that I could have sat in the hot tub for hours, relaxing with a drink and looking at the views of the lake, the temperature was perfect and the working week now seems a trillion miles away.

After a shower and freshen up in the room, we were then able to enjoy a drink in the on site bar and lounge. Although sharing the bar with other guests at The Lake House, as well as people that were booked into Knipe Grill, the service still makes you feel that you are the centre of attention, with all staff members at the house really making you feel like you are guests at someone’s home.

We sat at the bar pre-dinner, whilst we waited for the transportation, which was going to take us back to Gilpin Hotel for dinner. The transportation is sorted by the hotel, making it easy for guests to dine at the other accommodations restaurants.

With a Pre-Pre-Dinner drink finished, we now got to experience ‘Source’. This much talked about newcomer, headed up by Ollie Bridgewater, has been awarded its own Michelin star, literally just after being launched.

Led through to the luxurious, yet super comfy lounge at Gilpin Hotel, we ordered the ‘Pre-Dinner’ drink, which for me is The Gilpins very own Gin and Tonic. Many readers will know about my love of gin and my numerous reviews, well this one is stunning. Herbaceous forward and with well thought out depth, for me its resembles the surroundings of the hotel, in a glass.

Source has a few small dining areas, rather than one large dining room, this not only meant an increase in attentiveness, but actually also led to a more relaxed and informal atmosphere, with a small team of staff engaging on a personal level with every single diner.

The tasting menu is full of delights, which started with a Gin and Tonic dome, bursting freshness into your mouth it set the scene for what was going to be a truly exciting journey.

Dishes continued to impress, with Smoked Eel on a tapioca cracker, this was a positive slap in the face of flavour, that I wasn’t expecting, but loved.

Just as flavoursome and equally as tasty, was a roast native lobster, accompanied with a peanut and chilli filled lettuce leaf. The lobster was cooked to perfection and went down a treat.

As the dishes were being served, they were also paired perfectly with some stunning wine choices.

More delights kept coming, including some tender cod loin, on a broth of almond, asparagus, roe and jamon.

The main beef dish was also a real pleaser, as was the bread dish with bone marrow butter, that just kept being bought to the table, each portion devoured.

The sushi rice pudding with miso caramel, sesame and sake ice cream was heaven and if I am honest, I could have finished the meal there and been a very satisfied diner.

Following on however was a strawberry, earl gray, lavender and reduced milk dessert, and finally petit fours.

As the dessert dishes came, they were also paired with absolutely delightful wines, including an Oliver Zeter number named ‘Sweetheart’, which I could have sipped for hours.

The full tasting menu is available for just £120, or for £200 including the matched wines.

Following on from the amazing food and drink, as well as the faultless service that we received, the staff arranged for a car to take us back to the Lake House, so we could sleep soundly.

Waking up early, we took in the stunning views and headed off, unfortunately due to prior appointments, we had to leave before breakfast was served, but I couldn’t envisage it being anything but faultless, just like every other element of our stay.

Ironically, The one restaurant we didn’t get to try, was Knipe, which is located in the Lake House where we stayed. This one is headed up by recent Great British Menu contestant Tom ‘Westy’ Westerland and from what I’ve seen so far, it looks like it is going to be another destination restaurant, making one night at Gilpin, not long enough.

With its magnificent facilities and incredible food, Gilpin Hotel and Lake House can really serve up a very special treat for couples, friends and groups alike with the Lake House also being available to book as a complete house, making it an ideal venue for weddings or luxury get togethers.

So if you feel like treating yourself, or someone special, be sure to check out their website where you can book here.


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