Broadgate House, Broughton-in-Furness
One for those who aspire to a grand country house hotel but don’t quite have the funds to match, the five bedrooms at this stately Georgian B&B are dressed with antique beds, rocking chairs and chests of drawers and lined with comfortingly chintzy wallpaper. None is en suite but, with access to several private bathrooms, no one has to share unless they opt to (owner Diana only lets out all the rooms if their occupants are well-acquainted enough to share a loo). The other big attraction here is the garden, a huge 300-year-old affair that overlooks an estuary and includes a walled area.
• Broadgate, Thwaites, Millom, 01229 716295, sawdays.co.uk. Doubles from ?90, B&B. Three-course dinners from ?25pp
A bit of a surprise in Bowness-on-Windermere, where the competition tends to do a good trade in scampi and chips and frozen lasagnes – at this pub with rooms you’re more likely to find Morecambe Bay potted shrimp, or wild boar and apple sausages, on the menu. In the summer grab one of the tables in the terraced garden for a meal with a view. On chillier evenings, sit by the fire in the bar and warm up after a blustery boat trip across Windermere with a pint of Coniston Bluebird. Neither are the bedrooms your average pub lodgings. These have properly big beds, bright, patterned wallpapers and some very bling chandeliers; a couple have lake views.
• Helm Road, 01539 444080, theangelinnbowness.com. Doubles from ?70 B&B, main courses around ?15
The name of this simple but cosy farmhouse B&B in the Newlands Valley will ring bells with Beatrix Potter fans; “Little-town” farm features in the Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and its surroundings are said to have inspired the book. Brass bedsteads, embroidered throws and toys (books for adults, games for children) set a homely tone but most guests don’t linger. Instead they come to clamber up Catbells or to tackle one of the other straight-from-the-door walks and, with owner Sarah having trained as a chef, it’s worth ordering one of her packed lunches (?6), even if you started the day with the full Littletown monty. Dinners can also be arranged with a bit of notice.
• 01768 778353, littletownfarm.co.uk. Doubles from ?76, B&B. Two course meals from ?15pp, meat or cheese platters from ?7
On first appearances this is your typical Lake District farm, surrounded by fells and fields on the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake. Step closer, however, and you see that the property’s barn has been re-imagined as a contemporary, three-room B&B. Deep carpets, wooden floors, kingsize beds and a colour scheme that, like the bedrooms’ names, takes its cue from the farm’s creamy Charolais and Limousin cows and Texel sheep, set a cosseting tone. Breakfasts are also a big deal; the owners are passionate about the local Cumbrian produce they serve.
• Bassenthwaite, 01768 776307, sandhillsfarm.co.uk. Doubles from ?70, B&B
Looking out over the Winster Valley, at Windermere’s southern edge, this gastropub with rooms is great if you’re swithering between B&B and self-catering. Its two cottages and five suites are scattered between the pub and its adjacent buildings and each come with kitchens, though most guests don’t use them unless they want a full cooked breakfast, which the pub doesn’t offer. It’s worth upgrading to the Strawberry Bank Suite if you want to sleep in a four-poster and soak in a glossy, free-standing tub. A word of warning; the Masons Arms has just won the Good Pub Guide’s Pub of the Year 2012 for the northwest and gets busy so be prepared for a wait on tables, and food orders, or go early.
• Strawberry Bank, 01539 568486, masonsarmsstrawberrybank.co.uk. Doubles from ?75, room only. Coffee and breakfast bacon muffin starts from around ?7, mains around ?13
In the Eskdale Valley, the vast crenellated pile that is Irton Hall dates back to the 14th century (though much of it was reconfigured in the 19th), and both Oliver Cromwell and Henry VI are down on its roll-call of former guests. The hall is now mostly divided into self-catering apartments but they’ve recently started offering B&B too. Rooms are comfortable, if bland, with their dark leather headboards, built-in wardrobes, suburban bathroom doors and fresh-from-the-hotel-furniture-depot bedside tables, mirrors and desks. They’re good value for the Lakes, though, and with all beds at least kingsize and dressed with thick white linen, it’s hard not to sleep well here. If you don’t want to spend every day hiking up a fell, Muncaster Castle and its quirky owl sanctuary is close by.
• Irton, Holmrook, 0161-976 5440, irtonhall.co.uk. Doubles from ?85, B&B
Not everyone wants to be in a Beatrix Potter-style world of bedside posies, flagstone floors, Farrow & Ball paintwork and artfully mismatched furniture when they come to the Lakes. If you prefer your 17th-century coaching inns to come with an ultra-modern makeover, this seven-bedroom bolthole in the southern Lakes is just the place, all swirly wallpapers, shiny cushions and leather sofas. The food, too, puts a sophisticated, if slightly fussy, spin on gastropub favourites, with dishes such as roast duck breast and confit leg with sweet potato puree, pak choi and sticky honey jus.
• Newton-in-Cartmel, Newby Bridge, 01539 530613, crownathighnewton.co.uk. Doubles from ?79, B&B. Mains around ?14
The bedtime equivalent of comfort food, the eight modern rooms here aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel but simply to provide a decent night’s sleep. And they do. None are especially huge and their boxy wooden furniture and aubergine cushions, chairs and throws aren’t going to appear in World of Interiors anytime soon, but thoughtful add-ons – thick curtains that properly block out Lake District sunrises and fresh milk from a shared fridge, iPod docks, Wi-Fi and homemade gingerbread – raise this above much of the local competition. Set beside Ambleside’s quirky Bridge House, a dolls house-sized former apple store that picturesquely straddles a stream, the other great attraction here is the attached cafe and bakery, the Apple Pie. Rather meanly (especially in high season when the rates soar), breakfast isn’t included in the room prices but guests do, at least, get a 10% discount on the cafe’s menu prices.
• Rydal Road, 01539 433679, roomsattheapplepie.co.uk. Doubles from ?45, B&B
Opened last year on the site of a former youth hostel, The Lodge bills itself as a hotel but it’s better approached instead as a smart, contemporary hostel; there’s just a coffee shop on site, breakfast is continental-only and the decor is functional rather than all-out stylish, with laminate flooring, wall-mounted TVs and headboards that pay direct homage to the Travelodge aesthetic. Be warned that not all rooms have views of the hotel’s sweeping Lakeland setting. It’s not really up to the job, then, if you’re looking for hotel where you can sit by an open fire reading coffee table tomes by Lake District photographers. If you just want a decent bed for the night, though, it’s a good choice and, with 40 beds, it’s popular with groups. For dinner the nearest town is Keswick, around four miles away, or there’s a pub around 15 minutes’ walk away.
• Legburthwaite, St John’s In The Vale, Thirlmere, 0500 600 725, lakedistrictinns.co.uk/lodge.cfm. Doubles from ?60, B&B
Newly revamped, this pretty Victorian B&B fills a handy niche for weekending singles travelling by public transport. Not only are three of its nine rooms singles but, within 20 minutes’ walk or so, you can get to Windermere’s train station, pubs and cafes or Bowness-on-Windermere, where there’s an art-house cinema, more restaurants and shops and boats across to Ambleside; owners Andrew and Louise will fill you in if you’re not sure where to start. You don’t have to be single to stay here, though. Doubles, a four-poster suite and a family room are also part of the package; all are subtly decorated in shades of taupe, grey, moss or violet, with funky wallpapers and plenty of little luxuries, from free Wi-Fi to a library of walking books and maps. Stay for two nights or more and you get access to a swanky pool and spa down in Bowness.
• Lake Road, 01539 443739, lakedistrictguesthouse.com. Doubles from ?70, B&B
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