THE Lake District has many wonderful features and picturesque views and, like it says on the tin, the lakes themselves are up there among the highlights.

Windermere boasts fantastic scenery from the shore to the hills behind, its fantastic pleasure boats, wildlife and stunning hotels and visitor facilities.

One such is the Waterhead Hotel located at the top of Windermere, a grand building built in the local slate in a fine position by the piers which has been developed into a fantastic four-star boutique hotel.

The Waterhead, in the Ambleside suburb of the same name, has everything you could want from a top hotel – fantastic food and drink, smart bedrooms and bathrooms, friendly and attentive staff, spectacular lake views and even such complementary items as bottles of craft gin and tonic!

As befits a boutique experience, there are luxury towels, robes, slippers and toiletries to pamper yourself with in the bathroom, matched in the bedroom by the comfortable beds, coffee maker, aforementioned gin and tonic and nice little touches like the turndown service complete with chocolate.

On a hot weekend, the room did get rather warm but, in the absence of air conditioning which would be hard to install in the Victorian building, the well-equipped room had a fan which helped cool it at night.

The restaurant, where you also have a fantastic breakfast that sets you up for the day, is on the lake side of the hotel so can see the world go by and peoplewatch as well as birdwatch. The views are spectacular but are matched by the wonderful offerings on your plate.

Boasting the best of local produce, excellently cooked, the dinner menu has something for everyone. My partner and I both fancied the duck breast starter and we enjoyed the fabulous sauce made from oranges as expected and the Lakes’ own whisky, surprisingly.

We diverged for the mains, plumping for the Cumbrian lamb chump, which was a succulent and tasty piece of meat, and braised blade of beef but I, for one, could equally have chosen any other of the appetising dishes on offer, particularly from the grill.

The dessert menu was also difficult to choose from – you really need a week rather than weekend to try all that the chefs can create in their kitchen but all those dishes would need some working off.

Luckily, around the hotel is an outdoors playground with lots of opportunities to mess about on the water from taking a trip on a ferry to hiring a boat, canoe or paddleboard.

Then in the hills behind you can go hiking or cycling with one of our favourites, a circuit of Wansfell Pike, in easy reach. Also close by are the hills of Loughrigg Fell and more beautiful lakes to ramble around in Rydal Water and Grasmere.

And for those days when it rains, hence the lakes, the centre of Ambleside is just up the road with plenty of opportunities to shop and eat out.

Alternatively, you could check out the health club and spa (opening in September) at the Waterhead’s sister hotel, the Low Wood Bay complete with gym, pool, treatment rooms, squash court, sauna and steam room.

The Ambleside area offers all sorts of different accommodation choices but it will be hard to find one that ticks all the boxes that the Waterhead does.

Tim Quantrill


Waterhead hotel: website https:// ; tel 015394 32566

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