A break to Beech Hill Hotel in the Lakes soon revives body and soul, writes Stephen Halliday
Unlike the Prime Minister, who ignored his own advice and preferred Lanzarote to the Lake District, some of us have rallied to the cause of supporting the crucial tourism industry in an area ravaged by Storm Desmond last December.
As we wallowed in the outdoor spa pool at the Beech Hill Hotel on the banks of Lake Windermere, we might easily have imagined we were in the Canaries rather than Cumbria.
Well, maybe not quite, but the short trip down the M6 continues to offer a rewarding and relaxing break in an area which appears to be recovering with resilience and vibrancy from its latest confrontation with severe weather.
The bustling streets and busy cafes encountered in Ambleside, Bowness-on-Windermere and Kendal were testament to that.
We could not have timed our visit any better as it was enveloped by some late spring, early summer sunshine which allowed full appreciation of the prime location enjoyed by the Beech Hill Hotel.
One of the longest-established and most popular hotels on Windermere, the new jewel in its crown is the renovated Lakeview Spa which re-opened in April. Had we not been fortunate enough to experience good weather during our stay, then the Himalayan sauna, aromatic steam room and 40-foot indoor pool would have ticked plenty of boxes in their own right.
But there was no doubt the aforementioned outdoor spa pool, situated in a scented garden offering a breathtaking view across the lake, provides the highlight.
The serenity of the experience is disturbed only by the automated bursts of bubbles and the occasional low flying jets which swoop across Windermere from a nearby RAF base.
Suitably refreshed by the spa, it is time to enjoy the other star turn at Beech Hill. Burlington’s Restaurant has established a well-earned reputation as one of the finest dining experiences in the area and it didn’t disappoint.
Our starters of shelled mussels marinière and char-grilled tuna steak both hit the spot, with approval ratings even higher for the perfectly presented mains of Kentmere Valley lamb rump with fondant potato, samphire and chorizo, and saddleback pork belly with crackling, sweet potato mash, celeriac purée and apple relish. Head chef Lukasz Zebryk, take a bow.
After dinner, the Griffin Bar provides laid-back and comfortable surroundings for the evening. It is named after Harry Griffin, a celebrated writer and rock-climber who combined his love of the Lake District with prolific longevity as an author and journalist.
A regular at the Beech Hill, it is not difficult to imagine how the setting provided him with the inspiration and base to compile the Country Diary column he contributed to the Guardian every fortnight without fail for 53 years until his death in 2004 at the age of 93.
Of the 57 bedrooms at the hotel, which has been a feature on Windermere since the early 1900s, 52 have views over the lake including the functional but comfortable classic room we stayed in. Other rooms offer their own spa baths and patio doors which open onto the garden terrace or decking area.
Unsurprisingly, it is also a popular wedding venue with two well-appointed and lavishly furnished suites.
The hotel has a soothing ambience throughout, created by both its picture-perfect location and staff who manage the pleasing feat of being both attentive and unobtrusive.
One note of caution must be sounded, however. The Beech Hill’s steeply tiered design, which reaches down the bank of Windermere to its own private beach and jetty, is not conducive to anyone with mobility problems. The refurbishments it has made down the years do not include a lift.
But in terms of lifting the spirit, Beech Hill works a treat. As we departed following a magnificent full English breakfast in Burlington’s, we were able to reflect that the Lakes had proved more than a match for Lanzarote.
The Beech Hill Hotel & Spa, Newby Bridge Road, Windermere (0844 502 7587, www.beechhillhotel.co.uk). Rooms including breakfast from £75.90 to £349.80, though check online for offers. Add dinner for £34.95 per adult and £14.95 per child per night.