“Take me to The Lakes where all the poets went to die’’ sings Taylor Swift as she pays homage to her latest love. This recently released song is a tribute to the North of England’s jewel in the crown, The Lake District, a place the American singer has spent exploring with her long time British beau Joe Alwyn. The lyrics of The Lakes tell us that “those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry’’ and “I want to watch wisteria grow right over my bare feet.’’
Zoom back to 1799 and poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy expressed similar emotions about their home in Grasmere, where they enjoyed “plain living, but high thinking.’’ So, where better to base yourself for a family friendly trip with a sprinkle of romance thrown in, than in Wordsworth’s “home’’ village and the newly renovated The Victorian House Hotel.
Located in the heart of the English Lake District in the idyllic village of Grasmere. The Victorian House Hotel offers home-style comforts for families in one of the world’s most spectacular heritage sites. With its focus on doing ‘simple things beautifully’ like delicious home cooked breakfasts, cosy individual rooms and understated (yet, impeccable) service, this hotel provides a central base to explore the delights of the Lakes as well as the quaint local shops, galleries and museums.
Victorian House: The Rooms
London hotelier Serena Van der Heyde has brought London chic to The Lakes with a complete renovation of the traditional stone building. Known for her special style of mixing vintage furniture with luxury mod cons, Serena has used her experience running The Georgian House Hotel in Pimlico, to create the perfect oasis in the North.
The hotel which dates back to 1872 has a main part with each room different and furnished with period furniture to capture the gothic romanticism of the landscape which you can admire from your bedroom window.
Family friendly rooms are catered for in an annexe and there are star gazing and dog friendly rooms for those who want something a little different. A shepherd’s hut at the bottom of the garden is perfect for those looking for solace and its doors open to the River Rothay which runs through the village.
All the rooms adhere to strict Covid-19 cleaning measures and the staff go out of their way to keep everything spotless, but without too much fuss to ensure minimal disruption to your stay. The family rooms are spacious, with a separate bedroom and ensuite for mum and dad and all the digital technology the children can want for in their space.
Luxury toiletries and first class coffee and tea making facilities are on tap and parking is right outside the door, with the rooms overlooking a pleasant garden.
GOOD TO KNOW: You can avoid the hustle and bustle of the main street and instead make your way through the village along the riverside path at the bottom of the hotel’s garden.
Victorian House: Food & Drink
To cope with the pandemic, timed slots are given for meals. The well stocked breakfast menu features local delicacies such as Cumberland sausage and is served in the attractive Garden Room. Tier restrictions allowing, you can retire here at night too and indulge in one of the hotel’s famous cocktails which include freshly foraged herbs.
There is no restaurant on site, but the hotel has teamed up with nearby The Yan Bistro and you can order dinner from there and have it brought to the Garden Room. And it is well worth the splurge, with tasty starters including beetroot and horseradish cured salmon, ham hock scotch egg and home-made hummus. There are a range of mains from Sri Lankan spiced daal, to pork belly or sharing platters of meat, fish or a vegetarian option. The puddings are to die for, with especially the dark chocolate mousse with a salted sticky toffee crumb.
GOOD TO KNOW: Grasmere maybe a small village, but it is home to a wide selection of restaurants and tea rooms, catering to everyone’s taste.
Victorian House: The Great Outdoors
One of the main attractions of staying in Grasmere is its accessibility to the hills which have earned the Lake District UNSECO world heritage status.
A few hundred yards up from the hotel lies the pathway to the iconic fell, Helm Crag. Known locally as The Lion and The Lamb, it was one of famous Lake District author and walker Alfred Wainwright’s favourites, his verdict being “The virtues of Helm Crag have not been lauded enough. It gives an exhilarating little climb, a brief essay in real mountaineering’’
It’s a great way to enjoy a few hours and takes you through some stunning scenery and when you finally reach the top, the view is very inspiring!
GOOD TO KNOW: The paths are well maintained, but there is quite a lot of scrambling to be done as you get higher on the fell, so good gear is a must.
Grasmere, Lake Distrist: What to See & Do
Wordsworth’s poetry is everywhere in Grasmere, from the church and graveyard, where he and his family are buried to Dove Cottage where he lived between 1799 and 1808.
Now run by The Wordsworth Trust, 2020 marked the 250th anniversary of Wordsworth’s birth and the cottage and museum is undergoing a £6.2 m revamp.
The cottage where Wordsworth wrote his famous daffodil poem has been restored to how it would have looked like when he lived there, to make it look less like a museum. Paint scratches were used to source or make furniture which fitted in with his time and the garden and orchard is full of Wordsworth quotes to complement the flowers.
A viewing platform and museum full of artefacts is due to open in spring 2021 in dedication to the place Wordsworth wrote in a letter to Lady Beaumont in 1805 “I think these years have been the very happiest of my life’’.
GOOD TO KNOW: By the churchyard is a lovely daffodil garden, a nod to Wordsworth’s poem and created by fund raisers from across the world, who sponsored a paving stone with their name on. Next to the garden is the famous Grasmere gingerbread shop, a delicacy with the texture of a cake, but looks like a biscuit and is very yummy!
Victorian House, Broadgate, Grasmere Village, Cumbria LA22 9TA
Bookings for The Victorian House Hotel are available via www.victorianhousehotel.co.uk with prices starting from £112 per night (and, free cancelltion until selected dates to cpmly with Covid-19)
You can browse the menu at The Yan Restaurant at Broadrayne Farm at www.theyan.co.uk
Embrace the life of William and Dorothy Wordsworth at Dove Cottage, visit www.wordsworth.org.uk