For talented chefs in London it seems moving north to set up their own new venture is the plat du jour. Jake and Cassie White were head chef and pastry chef at Marcus at The Berkeley before setting up shop at Pentonbridge Inn. Situated in the small hamlet of Penton, just 16 miles north of Carlisle, and only an hour and a half’s drive from Glasgow, the inn has just nine rooms, a cosy bar and a restaurant. It’s the epitome of a boutique country retreat and a world apart from its previous incarnation, The Bridge Inn.
The interiors designed by Busby Webb reflect the Cumbrian landscape, with natural materials such as timber, slate and stone. The extensive use of glass throughout ensures each space is light, bright and airy and makes the most of the stunning views from the pub, whilst the history of the building is retained with the original beams.
The warm welcome that is central to the pub is brought to life through small touches, from the real fires and comfy sofas, to boot-racks and complimentary newspapers. The restaurant dining room features a statement fireplace, an open kitchen and a mixture of banquette and regular seating.
The vibe within the restaurant and bar is that of a modern hunting lodge, featuring vintage paintings paired with contemporary velvet seating. The wood-burning stoves and low lighting make it an ideal spot for a cosy drink, especially on a cold winter’s afternoon.
The nine luxurious bedrooms are split between the main building and the adjacent converted barn. Hints of luxury abound from the stand-alone roll top baths, DAB radios, Egyptian cotton sheets, fresh coffee, fresh flowers and fluffy towels.
Our room was in the recently converted barn just a hop, skip and jump from the main entrance. The steeped roof and Velux windows gave a lovely sense of space but without making the room seem cold. The bathroom was accessed via a sliding wooden door – a nod to its rustic past – and was a bright white chrome and marble space with a large walk-in rain shower. The Noble Isle toiletries smelled heavenly, and matched the lit candle which welcomed us to our home for the night.
Budget or boutique?
Rooms are from £150 per night including breakfast, meaning the price point is more in line with a boutique hotel.
Wining and dining
As you can imagine, the food at the Pentonbridge Inn is something special. Serving a set menu of four courses or a five-course tasting menu, the restaurant is ideal for a more formal dinner whereas the dog-friendly bar is perfect for a relaxed gathering. Here guests can enjoy local ales and a menu of classic pub dishes with a twist for lunch and dinner. An array of snacks and small plates, designed to share, are also available throughout the day.
We tried the seasonal tasting menu, which included fruit, vegetables and herbs from the Victorian walled garden and greenhouses at the nearby Netherby Hall. Local game made an appearance, thanks to the season. Other meat was sourced from Lake District Farmers and Millbank Venison, with fish coming from the Solway Firth.
We were also the first to try the wine pairing, which will go alongside the tasting menu. The wine list was expertly explained by the in-house sommelier and perfectly complemented the remarkable meal. The pudding is a must-have so make sure there’s room!
Worth getting out of bed for
After being set up with an outstanding breakfast – we ordered whisky porridge – take yourself out on a walk and explore the scenic surroundings. Dogs are not only welcome at the Inn, but in the nearby countryside will be in their element.
Our room had little luxuries such as a chunky knit adorned hot water bottle and a Noble Isle candle, which made the room smell heavenly. Our DAB digital radio was also on low, playing classical music. These additions made checking in feel more like coming home.
A wonderful hidden gem with luxurious, cosy rooms reminiscent of a five-star hotel but with homely touches – the attention to detail is first class. The food is out of this world and the service is fantastic. Definitely somewhere that you’d want to return to again and again.
Bed and breakfast is from £150 per room per night. Pentonbridge Inn, Penton, Carlisle CA6 5QB, 01228 586636, pentonbridgeinn.co.uk