You must visit Windermere in autumn

You must visit Windermere in autumn

It wasn’t meant as a test but Rob the assistant manager listed the hotel’s choice of four fine rums with impressive ease before I realised they were written in the drinks booklet lying unseen in front of me. His response was faultless and polite – typical of the service throughout our weekend at the genteel Linthwaite Hotel.

LinthwaiteThe welcome had been warm as soon as we entered the hotel – a grand Victorian house above Lake Windermere – and were greeted by a blazing log fire.

Our room, in the ‘preferred’ category, was tastefully furnished in greens, creams and browns with a king-size bed and sofa and a large bathroom complete with twin shower and double-size bath and Molton Brown accessories.

Among the pleasing little touches was a proper bottle of fresh milk in the fridge instead of the inferior longlife variety.

roasted loin and braised shoulder of lamb, minted peas, rosemary jus21008

Roasted loin and braised shoulder of lamb, minted peas, rosemary jus

We went down to dinner and joined other guests in the lounge – complete with another fire – for pre-dinner drinks and nibbles including homemade hummus.

The hotel was full – a sure sign of its success – with a predominantly mature clientelle and no children, although there was no suggestion they were not welcome.

Dinner was a real culinary treat, as we hoped from somewhere that prides itself on its food.

The Linthwaite has an impressive string of quality awards including 4 AA red stars and with 3 AA rosettes is rated among Britain’s top 150 restaurants.

cushion of veal, char grilled onion, cep tortellini, tarragon and bone marrow sauce61008

Cushion of veal, char grilled onion, cep tortellini, tarragon and bone marrow sauce

I opted for the four-course dinner with a starter of carpaccio of beef with blackberries and parsnip and horseradish mayonnaise and a main of roasted halibut with Allerdale creamed potato, mussel and clam chowder and samphire.

My wife chose the two-course option, beginning with the egg yolk truffle ravioli, mushroom duxelle, cep mousse and chestnut mushroom and the vegetarian main of smoked beetroot risotto, orange, Yorkshire fettle and thyme terrine.

We picked a fine Muscadet from the eclectic and well-annotated wine list and it was all beautifully presented by very attentive staff. Although the service was slightly slow – as a result of the restaurant being so busy – we were in no hurry.

We rounded off the meal by sharing a selection of five English cheeses before returning to the lounge and its log fire and enjoying the rum nightcap. In summer we might have sat on the hotel’s large terrace and soaked up the rays of the setting sun while gazing down on the lake half a mile below us.

Breakfast the following morning was equally as enjoyable with my wife saying her vegetarian rosti was the best she had ever had. Well-fed and relaxed after little more than 12 hours in the hotel, we set off on foot to explore the area – equipped with a map of a five-mile walk from the hotel’s own extensive list. For those who need them, the hotel will prepare you a £10 packed lunch.

Hi res New download (smaller)Our walk took us down the hill to the ferry across the lake – 50p for pedestrians – and onto the beautiful west shore and up into the woods above it.

On our second morning we explored the romantic setting of the hotel which stands in 14-wooded acres, walked around its very own tarn – where guests can fish for trout – and took in the sublime view north up the lake to the distant peak of Skiddaw before finally leaving with some reluctance.

Windermere must have one of the highest concentrations of similar country hotels in Britain. High on its hill, the Linthwaite stands above them, both physically and in terms of quality, comfort and service. It is the epitome of the English country house hotel.

There are lots of great offers on at the moment so visit their website now to find out more!

by John Coles