Perched on the eastern shore of Lake Windermere, this Grade II listed Georgian mansion was built as a private residence in the late 1790s and soon became renowned for its decadent parties and regattas, attended by the likes of William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. Today much of that lakeside grandeur remains: one can even arrive via boat at the four-star hotel’s own private jetty. The Tower Bar, meanwhile, features an antique wood-and-stained-glass bar that was previously part of Blackpool’s Victorian entertainment complex, Winter Gardens.
Renowned for their warm welcome and personal touch, the Baldry family has been opening up their Ullswater home for more than a century. The service is wonderfully old-fashioned – reservations are confirmed in writing and a gong is sounded for dinner at 7pm – but the overall effect is thoughtful, comfy and brilliantly British.
The country idyll extends outside with the family’s working farm and abundant orchards. The family also run four self-catered stone cottages nearby for a more reclusive retreat.
THREE SHIRES INN
So named for its proximity to the border of three old county shires – Cumberland, Westmoreland and Lancashire – this 1872 slate-built inn feels wonderfully remote, while only being a couple of miles northwest of Coniston Water and Lake Windermere.
All 10 rooms offer home comforts like en-suite bathrooms and wifi alongside stunning views over the surrounding fells. And like all good Lakeland inns, the bar is stocked with a host of beers and ales from local micro-breweries, as well as a comprehensive malt whisky and wine menu.
The Lowther family has occupied this site for some 800 years. The current structure was completed in 1806 and occupied until 1936, after which it fell into disrepair, not least thanks to military testing and chicken farming taking place in the gardens. The castle and surrounding 75,000-acre estate are currently six years into a major restoration project.
Orchards, gardens and yew-lined avenues are being replanted to centuries-old designs, the wooden ‘Lost Castle’ playground has added a magical diversion for kids, and the main castle itself can be admired in all its late Georgian glory.
Between 1799 and 1808, the Romantic poet William Wordsworth lived at Dove Cottage with his family and either began or completed many of his most celebrated works here. Today visitors can wander lonely through the house and half-wild garden, or read from the poet’s letter and journals in the adjacent Wordsworth Museum.
The venue is not simply a period piece, however. Residencies for young poets and regular readings by visiting writers ensure that this quaint corner of Grasmere remains a Cumbrian cultural hub.
British architect MH Baillie Scott was only in his early 30s when, in 1898, he began work on Blackwell, a large Arts & Crafts-style holiday home for Sir Edward Holt, son of Mancunian brewer, Joseph Holt. Briefly serving as a school in the aftermath of the Second World War, by 2001 this historic house had been lovingly restored, Grade I listed and opened as a museum. While home to temporary exhibitions and beautiful examples of fin de siècle furniture, the building itself is the true star: ornate stained glass, carved wooden panelling and fireplaces that Baillie Scott envisaged as “a substitute for the sun”.