By Tony Wilson
Gilpin has been one of the best hotels in the Lake District for a while, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t always looking to improve and diversify.
What started off as a private family home and fishing lodge before becoming a humble B&B is now Gilpin as we know it. Family-run since 1987 and part of the Relais & Châteaux hotel group so it’s still independent, it has grown to have a sister hotel, Gilpin Lake House, just a mile away.
Winner of multiple awards, there are three recently revamped restaurants, including the Michelin-starred SOURCE with Fat Duck alumni Ollie Bridgwater at the helm.
Late 2022 saw the addition of a brand new spa area and Spa Experience in their recently added luxury Spa Suites.
Here’s what happened when The Boutique Handbook checked into Gilpin for a weekend of pure luxury.
GILPIN HOTEL REVIEW
Gilpin Hotel & Lake House sits on the edge of the Lake District National Park close to England’s largest lake, Windermere.
Driving is advised, particularly if you want to explore the surrounding lakes and mountains. Free parking is provided for hotel guests. You can also get there by train to Windermere or Oxenholme stations. Make sure you pre-book a taxi to the hotel.
Gilpin is a modern country house hotel set in 21 acres of gardens, moors and woodland, which exudes luxury but without any pretentiousness. Staff are faultless, friendly and welcoming from the moment we arrived to when we checked out.
It’s cosy interiors are meant to feel like a home away from home, and it really does. In fact, we’d happily swap our actual homes for a permanent lake house at Gilpin.
Each year, the owners take care to renovate different areas of the hotel so it never feels out of date, something so many hotels overlook once they have made a name for themselves.
Rooms at Gilpin range from Classic Rooms in the main house to Garden Suites with private cedar wood hot tubs and detached Spa Lodges.
We stayed in one of the newer Spa Suites, which opened in 2021. Private and exclusive, this is what you want to book for an extra special occasion, like a big birthday or proposal. Staff can organise bespoke packages at guests’ request.
Each Spa Suite has a king-size bedroom overlooking its own private pond, open plan lounge and dining area with stylish hanging electric log burner and floor-to-ceiling windows.
But the real wow factor is the circular stone bath in the centre of the room leading out onto the decking where you’ve got your very own hydrotherapy hot tub, which we didn’t want to get out of even when it started to rain.
They aren’t called Spa Suites for nothing, as each of these luxury lodges comes with its own private spa area. This includes a sauna, steam room, state-of-the-art massage chairs, plus massage beds with infrared. Toiletries come courtesy of local suppliers Pure Lakes and ESPA.
Pre-booked spa treatments can be arranged in your room and start from £75pp. Book the new Spa Suite Trail Experience and enjoy a half hour massage, Spa Goody Box and a Japanese-style Bento Box to snack on.
FOOD AND DRINK
Gilpin has three onsite restaurants, two in the main hotel and one in the Lake House. All are open to non-residents.
Ollie Bridgwater, formerly of Heston’s Fat Duck, has just taken over the helm of Michelin-starred SOURCE, serving up a locally sourced tasting menu priced at £120pp for 10 courses or £200 with wine pairing.
The dining space is unique as it is made up of a series of quirky little rooms each with their own character, including a conservatory where breakfast is also served.
The menu changes, but when we visited we were treated to a snack of Gin and Tonic with Cucumber. Not a drink, but a spoonful of deliciousness you are encouraged to put in your mouth whole so it bursts like a bubble as the different flavours pop.
This was followed by Tapioca Crackers with Smoked Eel, Chilled Gazpacho with Oyster and Scottish Langoustine. Mains were melt-in-your-mouth Roast Loin of Monkfish and Spiced Duck Breast.
Puddings came in the form of Sushi Rice Pudding with Miso Caramel and Sake Ice Cream and Blood Orange Tart with Ginger, Lime and Basil, both swiftly devoured. Handmade chocolates were served to finish.
It goes without saying that SOURCE is the one to book for special occasions. The other restaurant we visited during our stay was the newly opened Knipe Grill at Gilpin Lake House. Around a mile away from the main house, you need to drive there or the hotel can organise a taxi, as they kindly did for us.
As you’d expect, the focus here is on grilled meat and fish. Starters range from Smoked 48hr Brisket (£12) to Kentucky Fried Pheasant (£13). For mains, we shared the Chateaubriand of Cumbrian Beef with marrowbone and proper beef gravy £80. Sides are £6.50 each. We went for the Beef Fat Potato Rosti and ‘Burnt’ Brassicas. For pudding make sure you order the Salted Caramel (all desserts are £12).
Not being big wine drinkers, we only had a glass with our meals, but when it comes to cocktails, be sure to order a signature Gilpin Martini. The lounge or Champagne Bar is a great spot for a nightcap or aperitif.
The third restaurant is a laid back Pan Asian offering called Gilpin Spice, which has two AA Rosettes.
Though some rooms have their own private spas, a new communal spa space was added at Gilpin in late 2022 for all guests to use.
Attention has been paid to the decor and textures throughout, just like the Spa Suites, to create a calming, sensory journey. It’s about feeling at one with nature as it’s designed to bring the outside in.
There isn’t a pool at Gilpin, though we’re told there are plans for one in the future, but there are saunas, steam rooms and two outdoor hot tubs. Guests staying at Gilpin Lake House have access to a heated indoor swimming pool.
Animal lovers should take a walk in the grounds to see Gilpin’s resident llamas, alpacas and micro pigs.
Gilpin is the perfect Lake District retreat for those wanting to wind down or simply get away from it all. The Spa Suites are next level and sure to impress for a special occasion or romantic break. But if you don’t have a Spa Suite budget, Classic Rooms start from a reasonable £200 a night and there are packages available including food.
Spa Suites start from £670 a night
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