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Discover This Luxury Hotel on the Shores of Lake Windermere

lake Windermere
May 2022
Reading time 5 Minutes

We discover some much-needed luxury on the shores of Lake Windermere

My partner has decided we’re going to walk the Wainwrights. ‘We’, he says. Anyway – to this end, one cold but sunny Friday morning we get to Ambleside early and set off. By mid-afternoon, he’s ticked off eight of Wainwright’s peaks, while I’ve completed two, had a browse around the shops in Ambleside, spent an hour in a bookshop, then had a glass of wine and some lunch. So we’re both happy as we head along the lakeside to our hotel for the weekend.
low wood bay hotel

We’re also ready for a bit of luxury, which means Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa, perched right on the shores of Windermere, is perfect. At the top of the sweeping drive, we’re met by a man who takes our name, shows us where to park and points out which reception we need to head to to check in. We’re in the residents-only Winander Club, which is a separate building just behind (and slightly uphill from) the main hotel. Having checked in we head to the roof terrace to take in the unbeatable views over Windermere. The lake is ever- present here, with every space, from the spa to the bar, designed to make the most of the hotel’s unbeatable position.

On the second floor, our room is spacious and packed with little luxuries. There’s a super-king bed, air conditioning, underfloor heating, fridge, refreshments and fruit, as well as ESPA toiletries and (in addition to the bathroom) a free-standing tub at the foot of the bed, perfectly positioned to make the most of the views out over the fells.

By the time we’ve settled in and cleaned up a bit, the sun is setting over the lake and it seems like the perfect time to enjoy our complimentary arrival Prosecco in the Winander Club’s private bar, one entire wall of which is glass, allowing panoramic views over the main hotel’s rooftops and across the lake, over which the dark orange sun is setting against a pink sky. This place has an exclusive atmosphere, something like a private club, and there’s tea, coffee and water available even when the bar’s not open (which is rare).

For dinner we walk down to the main hotel, which is right on the lakeside and slightly lower down than the Winander Club (so it doesn’t block the views, while enjoying a pretty spectacular outlook itself). In the atrium there’s a firepit, a juice bar and we can see the entrance to the spa and gym area – more of that tomorrow though. The hotel’s Windermere restaurant was under refurbishment when we visited, so we’re booked into Blue Smoke on the Bay, their smart grill restaurant.

low wood bay spa

With a seat just opposite the open kitchen, we can see the flames licking at the grill as the chefs toil away. They cook on an open fire using British hardwoods here, with wood types specifically chosen to enhance the flavours of the food. Cooking times, we are warned, can change depending on the weather and ‘the density of the wood in the oven at that time’.

This sounds right up our street and we’re keen to make the most of the grill/flame concept as we choose from the menu. My Blue Smoke signature hot smoked salmon, cured in rum, chilli and musavado sugar, is served with wood-fired teriyaki tenderstem broccoli and a mango and chilli salsa. It’s punchy and more-ish, with plenty of that fiery, smoky flavour we were promised. Across the table, my partner devours his wood-fired sticky lollipop of smoked and glazed pork with sesame seeds and house slaw.

We don’t often order steak when out and about (if I say so myself, we can cook an excellent steak at home), but in a place like this it would be churlish not to (and I defy any meat eater to sit and watch the chefs searing steaks over the flames without wanting to try one). My steak comes perfectly charred on the outside, packed with wood-fired flavour, yet pink and tender in the middle. On the side, we have confit vine tomatoes, mushrooms, and Blue Smoke seasoned chips (this seasoning alone makes the visit worthwhile), with a pink peppercorn sauce to dip into. Alongside a cool bottle of dry white wine, we could hardly ask for a more enjoyable and satisfying dinner.

Breakfast is taken in the dining room of the Winander Club. This is on the first floor, and like the bar upstairs it has an expanse of glass down one side and great views over Windermere – there can be few more pleasant spots to linger over breakfast. And there’s plenty to keep you lingering, with juices, tea and coffee, toast, pastries, meats, cheeses, yoghurt and fruit on offer, as well as a freshly cooked selection. I choose crushed avocado on toasted rye bread with poached eggs, while my partner goes for a large plate of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon.

lake windermere
low wood bay spa

Having exerted ourselves so thoroughly the day before (bookshops really take it out of me), we’ve agreed that there will be no walking up hills today. Instead, after breakfast we head straight to the spa. This is something of a revelation – having glimpsed the entrance on the way to dinner the previous evening, we’d never have thought there was so much to it. Again, the hotel’s clever use of split levels and building into the hillside comes into its own.

We’re given a friendly introductory tour and then left to our own devices to explore the thermal journey. My favourite is the herbal lounge, where the scent of eucalyptus is heavy in the air and the only seats are huge slatted swinging recliners which hang from the ceiling. There’s a steam room, dry salt sauna and rainfall showers, and from the thermal pools you can look out across the lake (almost level with you here) as you float serenely.

Outside, there’s a large infinity pool, a couple of hot tubs, a sauna and a bar, where the staff will happily serve you a glass of Prosecco so you can sip it in the hot tub overlooking Windermere and the fells beyond. It’s a spectacular spot.

Before we know it (although it has been several hours) it’s time for our treatments. We’ve already been asked about any areas of concern, and what follows is quite the most thorough back and shoulder massage I’ve ever had. My therapist really goes for the knots I’ve built up hunching over my desk, and by the time we make it back to the relaxation lounge I’m glad to sink into a comfortable day bed.

That night, refreshed and ready, we decide to head into Bowness for dinner. First we stumble across a brilliant bar with heated outdoor seating and a great cocktail menu (always take note of the taxi driver’s recommendations, even if the bar is called ‘The Fizzy Tarté’) and then we enjoy a casual dinner in one of the many restaurants that line Bowness’s crooked streets. Back at the Winander Club there’s still time for a nightcap, and we discover that the bar staff there are rather good at cocktails too.

The following day we’re once again off on an adventure (trying to tick off another Wainwright while we’re in the area). I’m sorry to leave Low Wood Bay, particularly in order to drag myself up a hill, but as we reach the top of Loughrigg Fell I’m pretty sure I can see it, hot tubs sparkling on the edge of Windermere in the distance. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but the thought of those hot tubs keeps me going as we set off on the long trek back to the car.

Low Wood Bay, Windermere LA23 1LP

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