We’ve visited the Lodore Falls Hotel before – perched on the shores of the south end of Derwentwater, it’s one of our favourite places for a picturesque weekend escape. This time, we’ve returned to see a new development which was completed at the end of last year: The Falls Spa. Adjacent to the hotel, just across the stream which runs down from the rushing waterfall behind, the new spa is a tall building, with numerous balconies and large windows overlooking the lake in front of it.
To begin though we head to Mizu, the hotel’s Pan-Asian restaurant (which also opened last year) for lunch, picking at fabulous sushi, crisp shrimp skewers and salty, grilled edamame beans, followed by pad Thai with tender king prawns, and a slow cooked Cumbrian pork belly ramen. From our table, we have a spectacular view up to the waterfall and the woods, and the food is as good as the view.
Our Deluxe Spa Suite is actually in the new building, a couple of floors above the spa. There’s a dedicated entrance for the suites, so we head up to change before we head to the spa itself.
We discover a large, long room with floor-to-ceiling windows at one end, which open onto a balcony overlooking both the outdoor pool below, and the lake in front. It’s a stunning view, and although it’s raining, we can still make out the lake and the shadow of the distant mountains. There’s a two-metre wide bed (super-duper kingsize, perhaps?), a spacious seating area, a luxurious bathroom and all the small luxuries that make a stay extra special – fresh milk, fruit, popcorn, Elemis toiletries, fluffy robes, and a small bottle of prosecco in the fridge.
Saving that for later, we head down to the first floor in the lift, which opens directly into the spa reception. We start with a tour of the thermal suite – which includes a laconium, aroma steam room, herbal sauna, salt steam room, ice fountain and drench showers. Trying everything, I don’t last long in the humid salt steam room, but head instead to the dry heat of the sauna, which suits me much more.
There’s a tempting champagne bar inside the spa here, but we decide to brave the rain (heavier now) and head outside to try the pool. It’s 16 metres long and heated to a gloriously warm temperature after the shock of the cold outside air. We try out the massage jets and the underwater loungers, as well as the overflow hot tub area, and it doesn’t seem to matter that it’s raining. Plenty of people are enjoying glasses of prosecco out here, the rain clearly not dampening their spirits even as it dilutes their drinks.
We’ve taken our time to explore the spa, and there’s just time for a few minutes in the glass-fronted Finnish sauna (which is also outside) before it’s time for my treatment – a fabulous hour-long massage, covering my whole body but with particular focus on the tight knots in my shoulders. By the time it’s over, the knots are completely gone (the first time a massage has ever managed to rid me of them) and I feel energised and refreshed.
We’re dining in the hotel’s two-AA Rosette Lake View restaurant tonight. After a drink in the bar we’re shown through to our table, which, if it were daylight, would undoubtedly have a fabulous view over Derwentwater. As it’s 8pm on a January evening, no such luck.
But the restaurant itself is beautifully decorated – lots of mirrors, heavy fabrics and paintings of the scenery we can’t see outside, and the tables are set with polished cutlery on pristine white tablecloths. We ordered wine while we were in the bar, and no sooner have we sat down than it arrives at our table with a flourish. Quickly after this we’re brought delicate smoked salmon amuse bouche, followed by our starters – butter roasted squab pigeon breast with puy lentils and crisp pancetta for my partner, and a crispy duck egg for me. My duck egg comes with aerated hollandaise, flecked with capers and pieces of tender, slow-cooked ham hock.
To follow, my partner has gone for belly pork (again), this time served with a roasted king scallop, sea buckthorn, glazed artichoke, crackling and choucroute. The strong flavours are well balanced, and he’s only a little bit jealous of my choice – a chargrilled fillet steak, with all the trimmings. It’s a beautiful piece of meat, cooked perfectly, and it’s the highest compliment I can give to a steak to say that it was so good I didn’t even pour any peppercorn sauce on it. It simply didn’t need it. (We dip my chips in the peppercorn sauce instead, which seems a good compromise). Finally, my partner enjoys a creamy hen’s egg custard tart with biscuit ice-cream, while I choose a trio of cheeses with grapes, walnut bread and local chutney.
In the morning the weather has cleared. We have an early breakfast (fruit and pastries from the buffet, followed by a tremendous plate of eggs royale and numerous cups of tea) and on return to our room the view from the balcony has opened up – we can see not only the lake, but the peaks of the surrounding mountains, topped with snow. There are people in the pool below, taking advantage of the beautiful morning. We don’t have time to join them – but there’s always next time.
Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa
Borrowdale Valley, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5UX