Linthwaite country house hotel perches itself upon high ground looking out over England’s longest `Mere`, Windermere (remember, it`s a `Mere`, not a lake). My visit to Linthwaite coincided with the onset of a late Lake District Autumn, the leaves were just starting to fall and the colours under a low setting sun were straight out of a child’s colouring book. Getting to Linthwaite hotel isn`t too difficult as the main M6 Motorway is roughly 10 Miles away. The drive from the Motorway can be pretty magical if you choose to go via the scenic route and all year round the Lake District offers the visitor some pretty jaw dropping scenery to take in.For those of you wanting an escape from the city or just life in general then you`ve struck gold if you`ve chosen to head over to Linthwaite. Once through the gates you`ll be entering your own little world, travelling back in time in the total comfort of a traditional log fired country house hotel. Staying at the hotel offers romantic seclusion , cosy snuggle ups with afternoon tea on the huge fireside sofas and the joy of the total escapism you experience once you`ve left that busy world behind.
It`s an exciting time at Linthwaite at the moment and during my stay there I could feel the electric atmosphere and the anticipation of revolution as the old moves towards the new. Previous owners Mike and Jean Bevans bought the hotel in 1990 and transformed the place over those 26 years to where it is now. It`s warm and homely at Linthwaite and all the money in the world can never buy that time sculpted environment created year by year with lots of love and care from the owners hearts. Earlier in 2016 the Bevans family decided to retire and a new owner took over ownership of the hotel. Mr. Analjit Singh, one of India`s richest healthcare entrepreneurs and the boss of the South African Leeu collection of hotels is now the proud owner of Linthwaite and boy, are there big plans ahead for the business.
In mid-summer 2017 the hotel is scheduled to close and undergo a new 7 million pound transformation. The 30 guest rooms will stay as they are but 4 luxury `over the water` lakeside lodges will be built taking the guest accommodation up to the pinnacle of high end hospitality. Can you imagine being woken by Birdsong dominating the air around your own private fishing lake? The hotel lounges and conservatories will be extended out and into the stunning gardens overlooking Windermere. Extensive new landscaping will also be carried out as Mr. Singh is very passionate about his love of nature and the countryside.
Moves have already taken place to secure the very best Chef possible to take Linthwaite into new territory. Chef David Aspin is a good old Northern lad through and through, down to earth and a great `craic` out of the kitchen. With his roots firmly set in the North, David travelled the UK to learn his trade from some of the old school masters of Gastronomy. Marco Pierre White (3 star at The Oak room), Gordon Ramsay (3 star at Royal hospital road). L` Ortolan in Shinfield and Paul Heathcote (1 star Heathcote’s in Longridge) set David out with a firm foot in the door and some very classic training. With that kind of background then the future simply has to be bright for any chef.
During my visit to the hotel I certainly made the most of the opportunity to fire many questions at Chef .I listened and travelled back in time when we chatted about the memories of the golden years. Then came the best bit, eating my way through Chefs menus of classic food encompassing his own little twists to mark his own personal stamp on his cuisine. Chef has only been in position for a few weeks now but seems to be settling into Cumbrian life pretty well. Contact has been made with some of the region’s top suppliers of quality produce. Heading up this list is the UK`s number One Gardening consultant and grower Ken Holland from Vallum farm. Kens produce is the best in the business and he sends out huge mixed boxes of mystery produce weekly to the countries high end Chefs. Taking baby steps, establishing new contacts with growers and foragers and settling in over the coming months should hopefully see a totally new and different take on the food at Linthwaite.
The hotel itself would need very little alteration if it were the chosen base of a Jane Eyre/ Pride and Prejudice film set. The lounges have been lovingly sculpted and restored over the last couple of decades as to offer a trip back in time to the country houses of old. Log fires, oil paintings and collectable nic nacs grace the walls and every available space throughout the hotel. There`s a warming and cozy vibe at Linthwaite, it`s an escape from life itself. It`s quiet and so peaceful with the only disturbance coming from the countless songbirds throughout the gardens bushes and trees. Newlyweds, destination foodies, Discreet lovers, families both young and elderly, there`s something at the hotel for every guest.
I could detect Chefs classic training straight away, old school straight through the core. Chefs like that don`t know any different….as it should be. They`re taught to do the basics well and after that, go on to develop their own style. Reduced sticky sauces tasting of the roasted bones are always a big clue to a Chefs background. David Aspin had the classics off perfectly as he demonstrated in some of the dishes off his wedding menu that I sampled for lunch. However once I settled in for the evening Tasting menu then Chef wandered off in a totally different and very modern direction. The highlight of the evening menu had to be the Roasted Langoustine with crispy Pork belly, uncomplicated, well cooked and full of robust flavours….I adore my rich food.
The one thing that jumped right out at me during my two visits to Linthwaite was the absence of a Sommelier or a staff Wine buff. Apparently the staff are all trained on advising the guests but with bottles of wine ranging in price from £ 20.50 to £ 125.00 then I would have expected to speak to a subject matter expert for a bit of guidance. I`m sure that once the curtain is raised and the new Linthwaite is unveiled in late 2017 then the whole experience will have changed dramatically. The restaurant does need a barman / resident sommelier so I’m sure that moving up a few gears will also bring forth these required tweaks to an otherwise well-oiled machine.
The service was very good during my stay, everyone was smiling and I felt the air of staff excitement at what the future plans hold for them all. Anyone into gardening then this place is a dream location, wild and established woodland, a private lake full of big Trout and nature in every direction. There`s no major roads and therefore virtually no traffic .The loudest noise the visitor will ever hear is birdsong…..lots of species ranging from Woodpeckers and Kingfishers to Buzzards and songbirds. It really is a lovely sound to listen to at daybreak.
Starting off the weekends food with Chefs classic Chicken and Prune terrine , very well made and a great demonstration of culinary skills.
Flame grilled Mackerel , Cucumber , Soy and Lime.
Artichoke and Truffle
Seabass , Fennel , Greens
Apple Tarte Tatin
Classic Chocolate Tart
Ok , so now that the ” customer friendly / please everybody” food is over we get down to Chefs Tasting menu and a look at what David is all about.
Pate of Goosenargh Duck and Foie Gras with Pistachio
Portland Crab , Tomato , Avocado , Grapefruit and Melon
Roasted Langoustine , Pork Belly , Girolle , Apple.
Norfolk Quail , Parfait , Mushroom and Chestnut
Wild Sea Bass , Palourde Clams , Romanesco Cauliflower , Shaved Fennel.
Blackberry , Sweet Tapioca , Sheeps Milk , preserved Blackberries
Tiramisu , Chocolate Marquise , Espresso syrup , Caramelised Milk ice cream.
And so to bed – and then back up again. Linthwaite full English Breakfast filled me right up…… Don`t forget lunch is in 3 hours sir.
Breakfast out of the way and without a doubt a bit of a stroll is required. Up through the Linthwaite woods to the small Tarn , the site where the luxury lodges are to be built.
Straight out of a fairy tale book with views to die for. Can you imagine waking up to this ?
A few hours later and back to the restaurant to eat their Sunday lunch. 3 courses with choices of starter , main and pud. £29.50
Selection or Roasted Baby Beetroot , Curd Cheese
Cured Salmon , Apples , Garden produce.
Goosnargh Duck , Vallum vegetables supplied by the legendary Mr Ken Holland.
Selection of Linthwaite ice cream.
Amalfi Lemon Cream , Cumbrian Gin , Verbena and Ginger.
To view more photos from my weekend at Linthwaite please CLICK HERE.
So to round up my weekends thoughts on Linthwaite hotel I would basically sum it up as “a breath of fresh air away from modern day madness”. The tourist heaven of Windermere town centre is literally five minutes away but you would never know that. Views , Nature , silence , romance , great cooking , Molton Brown treats and luxury rooms are what every one of us need now and again as a personal reward .Team that up with lots of Smiles and top shelf hospitality it goes a long way for a guests mind , body and soul and at Linthwaite they`ll get exactly that.
Restaurant address – Linthwaite House Hotel, Crook Rd, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere LA23 3JA Phone – 015394 88600
Bed and Breakfast start at £77 per person sharing a double room.
Dinner Bed and Breakfast start at £120 per person
3 course lunch £24.95
3 course Sunday lunch £29.50
4 courses a la Carte £52
Chefs Tasting menu (7 courses) £
Unstuffy Afternoon Tea £21.00
Champagne Afternoon Tea £29.00