Despite the grand furnishings and unbeatable location overlooking the largest natural lake in England, the hotel manages to maintain a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Budget or boutique?
With designer bedrooms and an AA-rosette restaurant, the hotel is without a doubt boutique. The Belsfield is a stunning example of Victorian Italianate architecture and if you are lucky enough to nab one of the lake view rooms, as I did, you can wake up to glorious views of Windermere – perfect.
Wining and dining
After a fancy cocktail in the hotel’s drawing room (sweetly furnished in powder blue, as was popular during the Victorian era), I enjoyed a lavish five-course feast at the hotel’s Belsfield Restaurant.
As with much of the hotel, the restaurant offers breathtaking views of the lakes and is kitted out in the finest Laura Ashley décor - including huge chandeliers.
A friendly waitress helped me navigate the menu, which included a lot of hard to deduce – and pronounce – options. Much of the produce is sourced locally and in the end I opted for a delicious seafood starter and gnocchi main, finishing up with pear parfait with almond brittle and pear textures, and although I’m still not sure what pear textures are, it was all scrumptious.
The restaurant, self-described as “a fusion of nouvelle cuisine and traditional British dishes”, offers an extensive wine list, with affordable quality house wines, as well high-end champagnes and wines at eye-watering prices.
For a room with a view, be sure to opt for one of the lake-facing offerings; these bedrooms and suites are well worth the extra money.
The rooms, as with the rest of the hotel, are elegantly furnished with Laura Ashley’s signature designs, with curtains, cushions, sofas and lamps all showcasing the fashion brand’s style.
The rooms have all the amenities you would expect in a luxury hotel, albeit with carefully positioned Laura Ashley catalogues, in case any of the prints take your fancy.
A proper coffee machine, cache of luxury toiletries and handwritten welcome note from staff were a nice touch and the bed perhaps the most comfortable hotel bed I have ever slept in.
Worth getting out of bed for
The Belsfield sits on the eastern shore of Windermere in the picturesque village of Bowness, so going for a stroll in the local area should be high on the list for anyone visiting the area.
I took a short ferry across the lake to visit Hill Top, the beloved farmhouse of Peter Rabbit author Beatrix Potter, who lived and worked here before her death in 1943.
As well as the house, with a gallery featuring thousands of objects bequeathed by Potter, there are also beautiful farmhouse gardens and Hill Top’s hay meadows are well worth a visit.
The friendly restaurant staff were a lovely bonus. The receptionist was also warm and welcoming as was the hotel manager, who made the effort to check everything was going well during my stay. The staff were also happy to cater for my early check out, with a tasty breakfast brought to my room.
Overlooking glorious Windermere, the Belsfield offers fine dining and grand designer rooms and inspires a compelling desire to redecorate your home.
Rooms start from £119 per night for a standard room. Laura Ashley The Belsfield, Kendal Road, Bowness-on-Windermere LA23 3EL (01539 442 448, email: [email protected], www.lauraashleyhotels.com, 08447 368 604)