Would you like to enjoy the ultimate spa experience, Michelin star fine dining, and state of the art accommodation all wrapped up in a gorgeous Lake District location? It turns out that the hype about Gilpin is not only justified, but the experience is genuinely up there with the best in the world. Plus it’s less than an hour and a half from Manchester.

On our visit earlier this year, everything was taken care of; service, spa stuff, incredible meals, with little treats appearing beside you at special moments. A salt scrub outside your shower, for example, or a glass of homemade elderflower fizz beside your lounger. I stayed for around 24 hours and to be completely honest, they were better than the previous four years put together.

I arrived on Sunday for lunch in Gilpin Spice, which one of three award-laden restaurants at Gilpin. The hotel hired three new head chefs in early 2023, and each has a unique pedigree. Head of Gilpin Spice is Aakash Ohol, former sous chef under the Michelin-stared Hrishikesh Desai.

The Spice menu is Indian-inspired Asian fusion and we loved the tandoori prawns (£12) and a take on chaat (Delhi Aloo Tikki, £10) with crisp potato cakes, mango and cardamon kulfi. The open kitchen runs alongside the lacquered interior; this is the perfect launch pad for an indulgent break.

Following lunch, we drove down to the Lake House, through puddles, and along the edge of Tarn Knipe to a former boat house bought by the Gilpin family in 1919. The house has since been transformed into a deluxe country style home-from-home. This is a place to snuggle down and relax; open fires warm each room, with underfloor heating through out, and wild views of the forest and terrain.

I stayed in a magnificent room called ‘Gertie‘ and the experience was like being part of nature, but one step removed, cocooned in a bubble of Lake District luxury. Natural materials – think tweed, wool, leather, and cork – and local artwork combine to create a genuinely luxurious environment, where nothing feels like any trouble at all.

The Spa

And then there’s the Jetty Spa Trail. Here amongst the hills and streams, guests move through a series of private experiences such as heated pool, sauna and hot tub overlooking the Lakes. A highlight was a back, neck and shoulder massage in a state-of-the-art treatment room overhanging the Tarn. The view even takes in Hill Top, the historic property where where Beatrix Potter wrote her famous books. Designed by friend of the family, the treatment rooms feature lashings of cosy fabrics and ‘hanging fires’ which are echoed in the spa suites and cabins around the main hotel.

In short: if you like spa stuff, Gilpin is the ultimate destination. The spa suites around the main hotel have their own bespoke hot tubs and private plunge pools, and Wegmar full body massage chairs as well as private saunas, steam rooms and massage beds. Do celebrities come here? Yes, but the majority of Gilpin’s guest are from just 3 hours drive. And this is something they’re really keen to share as its part of the hotel’s new sustainability strategy which is integrated into the menu too.

Michelin star cooking – inspired by the region

Afternoon tea and a new grill menu, by former Luckham Park chef, Tom Westerland, is on offer in the Lake House, while back up in the main hotel, there’s the Michelin star Source restaurant. Formerly known as Hrishi after founding chef and leading light in the UK’s Asian-fusion scene, Hrishikesh Desai, its since re-secured its Michelin star in the capable hands of former Fat Duck chef, Ollie Bridgewater. In an about-turn, he is offering a voyage through the Lakes incredible produce, with an increasing amount supplied by the hotel’s neighbouring farms and onsite ‘vertical’ farm too.

The food is pitch-perfect; think apple-fresh soup with scallop cerviche, a juniper-tastic ‘gin and tonic’ bubble to start, perfectly pink duck breast and Catalonian-inspired ‘surf and turf’ of Iberico ham and monkfish. Dinner is £120 pp or £200 pp with paired wines. If you can afford it, the wine flight is spectacular taking in buttery white tempranillos, a smoky, tea-like Zierfandler and earthy Pinots.

Its hard to sum up just how fantastic the Gilpin experience is, but if I said perfect for a honeymoon, a celebration, or just to genuinely give you a lift in the dead of winter, I’d be underselling it. Its hard to get a sense of the whole place without visiting as its spread across multilpe sites. So Click through and explore. Prices start at £305 per room for two.

Crook Road, Windermere LA23 3NE
Ruth Allan
Published on:
Tue 14 Mar 2023