Gilpin Hotel & Lake House
The Lake District has been freshly minted as a Unesco World Heritage Site, but in recent years it's the Lakes' restaurants rather than its fells and meres that have been hoovering up the accolades. Gilpin Hotel & Lake House extracts the most from both the natural environment and the natural larder, with a setting in the pastoral southern Lakes, plus two restaurants, one of which boasts a Michelin star.
The lake district
County: Cumbria – beloved of hikers, Beatrix Potter fans and poets, the Lake District is now a foodie mecca, and with good reason.
Getting there: Direct trains from London Euston to Oxenholme Lake District take a little under three hours. Allow at least five hours to drive, though a car's a real bonus in the Lakes.
That restaurant is Hrishi, named for its Indian-born head chef Hrishikesh Desai, whose imaginative, delicious and achingly pretty food puts a subtle subcontinental twist on modern British dishes made with ingredients sourced as locally as possible.
The second – Gilpin Spice, also overseen by Desai – goes even bigger on the Asian influence, with a continent-spanning menu in a relaxed and surprisingly funky space packed with guests and locals alike.
The original Georgian house has 14 rooms, but the five cedar-clad spa lodges are the pick, each set over its own mini lake and looking out over rolling hills. Inside you'll find everything you need to hunker down for a night or several: a hot tub, fire, spacious bathroom and a combined bedroom and living area that converts into a treatment room. The latter's the perfect way to unwind after a big day in the fells – not to mention a big meal. Or, if you're doing the Lakes properly, both.
From £205 per night B&B (summer). Crook Rd, Windermere. thegilpin.co.uk
It's not often in these pages that you'll see us recommend driving all the way across England to go to a service station, but this is one of those times. Run by the Westmorland Family – a group of farming businesses that's spearheaded motorway-junction dining from the Cotswolds to Lanarkshire – Tebay is famous for its steady supply of fresh local food at the gateway to the Lakes. With an onsite butchery that prides itself on its nose-to-tail ethos, a sit-in restaurant and a farm shop selling food from more than 70 local producers including foragers and farmers from the fells, it's well worth a trip en route to the Lakes, or for a final foodie pitstop before the long drive back to London.
Westmorland Place, Orton CA10 3SB; tebayservices.com
The Lakes Distillery
Believe it or not, only one body of water in the Lake District is actually called a lake (the rest are meres, waters or tarns). Beyond this pub quiz-worthy titbit, northern Cumbria's Bassenthwaite Lake is now home to something equally unique: English whisky. Follow the River Derwent upstream a few hundred metres and you'll find the Lakes Distillery.
Founded in 2012, it initially shot to prominence for an excellent gin, utilising locally foraged botanicals, but perhaps most notably for The One – a blend of whiskies taken from around the British Isles. Hiding within one of the restored 19th-century farmhouses, however, is its latest and most ambitious venture. Barrels of single malt whisky are undergoing the slow maturation process before a grand unveiling in late 2018. Watch this space.
Setmurthy, Nr Bassenthwaite Lake, CA13 9SJ; lakesdistillery.com
If you're the sort of person who can't go away without bringing a piece of your holiday back with you, chances are you'll probably quite like Lakeland's gigantic flagship store, which sits on the edge of the quintessential Cumbrian town of Windermere. Not only does it stock pretty much every piece of kitchen gadgetry you'll ever need (and some you didn't know you did), but there's also a kitchen space for product demonstrations and chances to get hands-on with some of the latest gear on the market. And even more interestingly, the shop stocks enough kitchen foil and clingfilm to stretch over the entirety of Lake Windermere, but we don't recommend you try that.
Alexandra Buildings, Thwaites Lane, Windermere LA23 1BQ; lakeland.co.uk/stores/windermere
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