The Borrowdale Hotel is situated in the Lake District – a mountainous region in North-West England which also contains the deepest and longest bodies of water in England, respectively Wast Water and Windermere.
The Lake District is popular with tourists, especially those who enjoy long walks through nature. The downside is that it rains there for 200 days of the year – this is caused by moist air from the Atlantic that hits the hills where it is forced to rise, then cools and the moisture condenses to form rain.
Some of the Lake District Hotels are extremely expensive. For example, dinner, bed and breakfast at Holbeck Ghyll starts from £400 per night. I saw an offer from Secret Escapes for tea and scones, dinner, bed and breakfast at the Borrowdale Hotel for £164 and booked one night. We’d never visited the Lake District before and this was a ‘try and see’ visit.
We arrived around 4pm. There was plenty of parking at the front and rear of the hotel. A quiet road separated the hotel from fields and Derwent Water.
Room bells are still on the walls by reception.
Check in was smooth and we were soon in our room. The offer was for a standard room and I’d read that these were quite small – we were pleasantly surprised to find that this wasn’t the case. It wasn’t a suite, but was perfectly fine.
There was complimentary water, tea. coffee and biscuits.
The bathroom was modern and well appointed. The towels were good quality. There was a good selection of toiletries.
The free wifi was good and much better than I’d read in reviews.
There wasn’t a safe in the room – although I still felt comfortable leaving my laptop and iPad there.
We headed to the bar/conservatory area to redeem our afternoon tea voucher. The barman said he would bring everything to our table. I didn’t ask, but I expected a selection of teas. As it was, the tea was just standard black English tea. I’m assuming that you can order a different tea – just remember to do so when you redeem your voucher. There was only one scone each and they weren’t very good.
They use metal pots for tea and hot water. Not surprisingly these are difficult to pick up without burning your fingers.
We had a look at the garden and house.
Our Dinner reservations were for 7pm (dinner service is 6:30 – 9:15pm). The restaurant was behind a previously closed door by reception. The dining room was light and formal with nice flowers.
We ordered a jug of tap water and a bottle of Malbec £25. We weren’t quite sure of the inclusive dinner deal but guessed it was three courses and coffee (£29.95).
We had Pan-Seared Wood Pigeon and Homemade Fishcake to start:
For main a Pan-Roasted Goosnargh Duck Breast and a Grilled Cumbrian Lamb Rump:
A nearby diner had what I think was gammon carved at their table:
For pudding a Sticky toffee pudding and a panna cotta:
All the food was delicious and we were relieved that the scones weren’t an indication of food to come.
Our waitress advised that we should now move to the bar/conservatory for coffee and petit fours. I asked for the bill but was told that it would just be added to my final bill – but that made it difficult to tip, especially as I expected service to continue in the conservatory.
We moved to the conservatory and found a self-service coffee area – just jugs of filter coffee and chocolates. I’m not sure if we could have ordered any specialist coffee from the bar.
We ventured outside as the rain had stopped. The sky was brooding. The sheep bleating. Swarms of midges were biting. We went back inside.
Breakfast is served from 7:30 to 9:30am. That’s a little early for me, although the hotel check out time is 11am and so a 10:30 breakfast finish would impact on this. Our Secret Escapes deal had a so-called ‘late checkout’ included – 12 noon.
There were plenty of pastries and juices. We had a full breakfast and were able to order poached eggs.
It was very good and more generous than our breakfast at The Hotel Portmerion in Wales. Tea was again served in metal pots.
As it was raining (again) we decided to check out early and drive to our next location on the North-East coast.
The only charges were for the wine and a large sambucca that I had in the bar. The credit card machine asked about a gratuity – I’m not sure if they expect you to tip for all the service at that point or if that was just the default setting of the machine. I’d recommend taking a £10 note with you for dinner and give that to the waitress directly.
We enjoyed our stay – it was much better than I expected – well except for the scones. I have a suspicion that many of the hotel practices are for the benefit of the hotel and not the guests. I certainly don’t agree with early breakfasts and 11am checkouts.
I’ve decided that the Lake District isn’t for me. The weather has a huge impact on walking and sightseeing and the midges are annoying. In my view, there is much better value, weather and scenery to be had in Madeira.
The Borrowdale Hotel
Hotel Reception: 017687 77224
Reservations: 0800 840 1244