There is, perhaps, nothing more soothing than the sight and sounds of a gentle river making its unhurried journey along a constant course. At The Trout Hotel, that pleasure is available in abundance, as it occupies an enviable position right on the banks of the serene Derwent, after which the Trout’s AA Rosette-winning restaurant is named.
The Trout’s 49 individually-designed bedrooms each have their own special perks; whether that be stunning river views, your own private balcony or even a cottage suite with its own private garden in which to relax in peace. Rooms here exude a sense of luxury, with comfortable beds and stylish fixtures, as well as modern ensuites – they understand that bedrooms are the foundation of a successful hotel.
Behind its stylish and contemporary furnishings, there’s a sense of living history around the place. The hotel was originally built as a residence for the estate of Lord Egremont in 1670, and remained that way until it became The Lakes Hotel in 1934, which was renamed The Trout in the 1960s.
Its most famous guest has almost certainly been Bing Crosby – American actor, crooner and keen fisherman – who visited Cockermouth in the summer of 1966 to film an episode of The American Sportsman. According to reports at the time, he attracted almost the whole town to come and watch him in the rain, as he spent a barren week reeling in nothing of note before finally the fish came. Before the floods of 2015, which caused some damage, The Trout’s main bar was adorned with images of Bing, along with a copy of the menu that was served to him, over 50 years ago.
History’s not the only thing The Trout has going for it; this Cumbrian retreat offers plenty for visitors today. We spoke to Sue Eccles, the hotel’s Managing Director, to get her views on the hotel, as well as everyday life in Cumbria.
‘Living around here is special,’ Sue says. ‘I love driving through the lakes, and the backdrop of the Fells is just stunning.’ It’s fair to say that working in the gorgeous Georgian town of Cockermouth – one of the UK’s 51 Gem towns, which are recommended for preservation as part of our national heritage – provides a wonderful backdrop to life, whether you work there or are a guest. At the hotel itself, she tells us, guests will be treated to a wonderful mix of pleasures; ‘I’m very proud of our exceptional service at The Trout. We try our best to make sure every stay with us is special, with a fusion of our service, riverside views and our food, which is just delicious.’
Central to their culinary offering is the award-winning Derwent Restaurant, which puts together mouth-watering seasonal menus with an emphasis on locally-sourced produce. Here, dishes combine with stylish modern presentation, prepared superbly by Head Chef Alex Hartley.
Alex has been working at the Trout for 19 years, and is an integral part of a long-standing team at the hotel. Like most people who spend any time in the region, he can’t get enough of Cumbria’s beautiful scenery and calm way of life; ‘I love walking my dog over the Fells,’ he tells us, ‘it’s an absolutely stunning place to live.’
The menu at the Derwent Restaurant boasts a selection of elegant dishes with innovative flavour combinations, which Alex creates from superb local ingredients. The signature dish is a delicious Chateaubriand steak for two people, which is always a hit with diners. Alex loves to cook up this meaty masterclass, but he says that his favourite bit of kitchen tech is a VarioCooking Centre. ‘It’s an oven, tilting pans and a boiler all in one – it means I can speed up my cooking time and have even more dishes on the go at once.’
A stay in The Trout would be the perfect way to experience the Cumbrian lifestyle. From relaxing on your private balcony and watching the river roll by, to learning about the quirky history of the hotel and enjoying a sumptuous dinner at the Derwent Restaurant, this idyllic Cockermouth retreat is a joy.
Crown St, Cockermouth