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TEN HISTORIC HOTELS IN THE LAKE DISTRICT

Adrian Mourby

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The Lake District wasn't always a tourist attraction. Daniel Defoe called this pastoral landscape “the wildest, most barren and frightful of any that I have passed over in England, or even Wales itself.” But by the end of the eighteenth century the first guidebook, A Guide to the Lakes, had been published. What had changed everything was the frequency of wars in Europe, which put an end to English gentlemen going in search of breathtaking Swiss vistas. The championship of poet laureate William Wordsworth, who wrote his own guidebook in 1810, fuelled the English interest in their own “Alps”. This sudden popularity of the Lake District is why most of its hotels were built in the 1800s.
Rothay Manor Hotel & Fine Dining

This country house takes its name from the River Rothay, which was named the Red River by Viking settlers. The manor was built in 1823 as a private residence for a successful Liverpool merchant who wanted somewhere healthy and impressive to lodge his family. Much of the original Regency design can still be discerned. Since the 1960s the hotel has been owned and managed by the Nixon family.

Gilpin Hotel & Lake House

The original Gilpin House was built in 1901 in a conservative style influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement. Its 2009 refurbishment has reconceived the house in a radical style of which William Morris might have approved. There is indeed nothing here that is not "useful or beautiful". The library is a particular triumph, as is the new Lake House, a mile from the old hotel.

Linthwaite House

Linthwaite House is a gracious early twentieth-century weekend retreat outside Bowness, which readers of Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons will recognise as the lakeside town of 'Rio'. Bowness On Windermere is also home to the World of Beatrix Potter attraction. It is easy to imagine scenes from her books and Arthur Ransome's while looking out over Lake Windermere from the gardens of Linthwaite House.

Lakeside Hotel on Lake Windermere

This rare seventeenth-century coaching inn predates the Lake District's rise as a tourist attraction. It was built as an important staging post between Penrith and the coast. Business increased as Lancashire's mills developed to the south. When the hotel was sold at auction in 1954 the particulars quoted a landing stage for steamers and a dining room with dance floor for 80. Today the John Ruskin Brasserie commemorates the art critic who stayed in Windermere in 1826.

Broadoaks Country House

To the northeast of Windermere stands the village of Troutbeck famed for its inn, The Mortal Man whose name derives from an early advertising slogan, "O mortal man that lives by bread, what is it makes thy nose so red? Thou silly fool, that look'st so pale, 'Tis drinking Sally Birketts ale." Broadoaks, a beautiful oak-panelled Edwardian house stands to the south of the village in its own grounds.

Appleby Manor Hotel & Garden Spa

Appleby to the east of the Lakes is a very different kind of village, and is dominated by its Norman castle. This was the home of Lady Anne Clifford, a noted seventeenth-century patron of authors and a celebrated diarist in her own right. The annual Appleby Horse Fair has been held every June since the twelfth century when Henry II granted it a charter. Appleby Manor is an early twentieth-century hotel in wooded grounds overlooking the castle.

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