Lynne Coates visits the Lake District and finds South African influences in a luxurious country house hotel.
Ordinarily you wouldn’t expect to find a naked nymph, lions and monkeys in the gardens of a Lake District hotel, even if they were sculptures. However, Linthwaite House is no ordinary hotel. Its owners have tastefully infused this Cumbrian establishment with strong South African influences, not just in its décor, but also in the surroundings – so much so that at times during our stay, we imagined we were back in Franschhoek in South Africa’s famous winelands.
Not surprisingly, we learned that Analjit Singh, the international entrepreneur and founder of the Leeu Collection of luxury properties in Franschhoek, was so impressed with the Lake District that he decided to buy a hotel there to add to his portfolio.
Having acquired Linthwaite House he set about creating a distinct South African feel, even shipping over massive sculptures, which are mounted in and around the gardens. His love of art, architecture and design is evident in this fusion of African influences with contemporary styling and imaginative landscaping, resulting in an extraordinary, luxurious country house hotel.
We checked in, together with our two dogs, for a weekend break and were shown to our delightful garden suite in a designated dog owners’ zone, before settling down for a cocktail on the elegant decked terrace where we took in the breathtaking views of Windermere with the sun setting on the watery horizon.
The hotel’s restaurant, Stella, has an excellent reputation, and is frequented by locals as well as hotel guests. Using locally sourced organic ingredients, the menu has a distinctly Italian influence, not surprising as the chef is from Italy.
I found it hard to choose from the menu as everything sounded so wonderful. In the end I opted for a starter of bruschetta, with fresh fava beans, goat’s milk cheese and pea shoots, followed by stone bass with tomato and olive broth, fried capers, buttered greens, and zucchini crisps – it tasted as delicious as it sounds – culinary art on a plate!
The wine list was equally impressive, as expected, given the owners connection with Franschhoek. After a superb dinner, accompanied by an excellent bottle of red, we all, including the dogs, enjoyed a good night’s sleep in our deliciously comfortable beds.
The Lake District, now a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, is idyllic for walking, trekking and cycling and Linthwaite is just a short distance from Windermere and its most scenic routes.
Directed by the hotel’s helpful receptionist, we set off for the nearby marina, from where we could follow the footpaths by the side of the lake. The picturesque marina is crammed full of sailing boats.
Walking routes are clearly indicated, leading from the marina into Bowness, and have stunning lakeside views. In summer the town is packed with visiting tourists but out of season it is a delightful place to wander around, with plenty of shops, cafés and restaurants. A major tourist attraction, especially for children, is the World of Beatrix Potter. The author lived in the Lake District, taking inspiration from her surroundings for many of her stories. To make the most of Windermere’s spectacular scenery take a cruise on the lake – it is the largest natural lake in England and small private boats are available for charter, or take a trip on one of the larger cruisers.
If you crave some tranquillity and more peaceful enjoyment of the scenery, Linthwaite has its own lake. A short walk through the woodland gardens and you arrive at a beautiful oasis, complete with ducks and a summerhouse.
The Lake District is perfect for a weekend or short break getaway and Linthwaite House, set in fourteen acres of private gardens and woodland, won’t disappoint as a luxury retreat with the WOW factor.
Rates start from £200 for two people sharing a double room on a B&B basis (low season, November through January). Bookings can be made by phone on 01539 488 600,