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Review: We Discover a Luxurious Retreat on the Shores of Windermere

Review of Langdale Chase Hotel on Windermere in the Lake District
July 2024
Reading time 3 Minutes

The splendid lakeside Langdale Chase on the shores of Windermere has been brought back to its glory days

A two-hour car journey (less for some) and the stunning scenery make the Lake District an ideal breakaway destination, and in our case more specifically, the shores of Lake Windermere.

Surrounded by high peaks, Windermere has provided a playground for generations. Indeed, many of the iconic properties that can be found on the lake’s shore acquired their majesty from wealthy industrialists hailing from Manchester, Liverpool and thereabouts, who looked to the Lake District for peace and relaxation. Today, many of these elegant homes have been re-imagined as luxury hotels of which Langdale Chase, in its commanding position on the lake’s eastern shore and originally built in 1890 for a wealthy Mancunian widow, is a recent and rather excellent example. 

It was a miserable spring day when we headed west for our minibreak, to be greeted at the door by the friendly team at Langdale Chase who ushered us in out of the rain. Formalities quickly over, we headed to our room to unpack and dry off. We walked, but our luggage went by golf buggy to what transpired was a suite with its own private entrance, just a few minutes walk from the main hotel. A short passageway led into an ample-sized sitting room and spacious bedroom with ensuite bathroom, all with great views over the gardens and lake (as with most of the rooms).

The hotel has a pretty unbeatable location right on the lakeside, although the heavy rain meant the opportunity for exploring was rather curtailed. But having noticed the open fire and cosy looking bar as we checked in, we weren’t too disappointed to have to change plans and head indoors. 

With a fire burning in the entrance hall, and rooms leading off offering a glimpse of cosy seating, some wood panelling and lots of contemporary art, it’s clear that the somewhat overbearing original Victorian design of the house has been cleverly tempered by its new owners without taking away its sense of grandeur.

The three of us (office dog in tow too) found a really cosy alcove seat in the bar tucked in beside the crackling fire, and Winston with his treat, and us with ours, quickly relaxed in our quiet corner. The continuing downpour meant there wasn’t a good reason to move so we ordered dinner. The dining room was out of bounds to our four-legged friend, but that was hardly an issue as the menu was well balanced, full of classics with a Langdale twist, and the friendly staff were helpful and efficient.

The menu wasn’t complex but was well delivered and the wine-list extensive enough to give us pause for thought. Delicately presented, not vast in portion size, all four courses (can’t miss the cheese) were declared delicious. 

We learnt a lot about the history of Langdale Chase from the staff, who really seemed to be enjoying their work here, as we dallied in the bar but realising the rain had relented at last we eventually gave up our seats and strolled slowly along the hotel’s long lakeside terrace back to our room.

Waking to a much brighter sky, after a lazy breakfast served in the panoramic Dining Room we headed out for a much-needed walk. Heading up behind Langdale Chase we climbed high above the hotel to enjoy the spectacular view across Windermere to the fells beyond. Back down at lake level we wandered through the hotel’s gardens. Originally designed in 1890 by renowned landscape gardener Thomas Henry Mawson, they are currently being reimagined by internationally recognised garden designer Annie Guilfoyle (garden tours are available to guests on request). The sun managed to make a sudden brief appearance so we headed to The Terrace for a coffee and to watch the boats sail by. The steamer makes a regular appearance, chugging up and down Windermere between Ambleside and Bowness.

Passing on lunch, we’d been invited for afternoon tea. What we hadn’t quite expected was the feast that arrived, with traditional sandwiches, innovative hot savoury nibbles, and exotic, eye-catching cakes in the form of fruit, all taken in front of the roaring fire in the Lounge – quite an event in itself.

Although the hotel are happy to arrange everything from guided walks to mountain climbing and archery and clay pigeon shooting to water sports, the weather, and the fact we were pretty tired, meant we were only too happy to relax, read and enjoy the peace of the hotel in the late afternoon.

We did manage another dinner, which was as delicious as the first, and sat awhile mesmerised by the water slowly drifting past the floor to ceiling windows before heading to bed.

Another night of decent slumber behind us we tucked in to another long, leisurely breakfast, delivered by enthusiastic staff determined to spoil Winston with sausages (he certainly wasn’t complaining). We even snaffled a Sunday paper to read, something that still remains a pleasure. And although we could have stayed for the Langdale Chase Sunday lunch (although I am not sure how we would have fitted it in), which apparently is legendary in these parts, sadly duty called and we took our leave. 

Returning to the lakeside to say a fond farewell we reflected on what is a really fantastic hotel, with a fascinating history. It’s a flagship for the Thwaites group who spent a year remodelling the house into a luxury hotel of the highest standard, and who without question have triumphed with Langdale Chase.

Windermere LA23 1LW
01539 432201

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