A Punter’s Review of Lakes hotel and spa, in bowness-on-windermere, by Savour subscriber, Dave MacKay.
Thanks to the pandemic our planned holiday abroad was cancelled, so we looked around the UK for something else to do.
We ended up settling on three nights at the Lakes Hotel and Spa in Bowness-on-Windermere. Very glad we did too. It is an impressive hotel with excellent décor and even more impressive staff.
On arrival at the gate house, we were greeted with a cheery, “Good morning, Mr MacKay”. Even though we’d never been before, and we knew that it was down to a quick check of the number plate, it did make us feel that we were actually being welcomed back.
The reception at reception was just as good and the tour of the hotel, which inevitably ended at the cocktail bar which, inevitably, led to cocktails on the cocktail terrace with fantastic views along Windermere.
The afternoon was spent in the well-appointed spa which has a pool, two jacuzzis, a steam room, sauna and plunge pool and, most importantly, a pub. You get to the spa through it and there is a window through to the bar from the spa – so it’s easy to order the the odd bottle of bubbly.
Mrs M had a “frangipane wrap” which she described as “amazing” and was most impressed by Emma (from Lancaster) who worked her magic during the £80-for-one-hour treatment; which in my experience, is really good value for a spa treatment.
I checked us into our room whilst Mrs M was being cocooned in ‘mood-balancing aromatics’ and was unable to defeat the passing member of staff who insisted she helped me upstairs with our bags. Our room was large and well proportioned. I get the feeling we had been secretly upgraded as the room was much larger than the one on the website. It featured a large sitting area with a huge sofa and a TV that was larger than some of the actual hotel rooms we have stayed in before!
The balcony had a lovely view of the gardens and lake and the icing on the cake was the hot-tub which was (by definition) hot at a sweat inducing 40o. We found that if you leave the cover off it does cool down and you could plunge comfortably and take advantage of the sign on the wall – which kindly suggested we should order a bottle of Champagne to be delivered directly to the hot-tub.
We ate in the hotel on the first night and were impressed by the meal we had and the service we received. A word of advice: the hotel do a dinner bed and breakfast option but have a look at the prices on the menu before deciding because it may be that the dishes you go for cost less than the difference between B&B and DB&B. Definitely go for B&B rather than room only as the self service breakfast is plentiful and varied.
In terms of location, the hotel itself is within three minutes’ walk from the waterfront and dock. There are plenty of pubs and restaurants all close by and the Porto restaurant is one of the better ones.
If you are after fine dining then Hrishi at The Gilpin is 10 minutes in a taxi (once they start accepting bookings from non-residents), it’s about 15-20 minutes by taxi to Ambleside, should you wish to visit venues such as The Old Stamp House or The Lake Road Kitchen, and about 20-25 minutes from Cartmel if you’re lucky enough to find availability at L’Enclume or Rogan & Co.
As with every trip there are downsides. The hotel drive is very steep and would not suit those with mobility problems. As nice as the room was there was no air conditioning which meant we slept with the balcony door open as we like a very cool room at night. Lovers of a warmer room will have no problem with it though.
As a grumpy Yorkshireman I did balk at the cost (£500 per night B&B) – but I have to admit that the location, quality and service are all reflected in this cost.