It already has a location to die for. Now Chris Burn discovers the Low Wood Bay Resort is getting a restaurant and spa facilities to suit.
Why? Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa in the Lake District is in the final stages of an £19m renovation that has already seen the arrival of a new restaurant with a South American wood-fired grill and will soon result in an expanded luxury spa complete with outdoor heated infinity pool opening this summer. With some uncertainty remaining around the final completion date, it may be worth checking with the hotel on when construction is likely to finish before booking a stay.
Location: Sitting on the banks of Windermere, around a mile outside the picturesque town of Ambleside, the grounds include a private jetty that reaches out into what is the largest natural lake in England and is a great spot for taking pictures. The resort also has its own watersports centre.
Ambience: The friendly and helpful staff contribute to a relaxed atmosphere in the plush surroundings, with families welcome and able to feel at ease.
Accommodation: The hotel has 84 bedrooms, while dogs are welcomed. Extra rooms are in the process of being built as part of the expansion project.
Food and drink: The centrepiece of the hotel is the new Blue Smoke on the Bay restaurant, which is focused around a 3m-long double wood-fired grill, allowing chefs to specialise in steak, meat and fish dishes, while there is an extensive range of cocktails and wines. The delicious Bricklayer rump steak, which is marinated for 24 hours in smoked paprika with garlic and chilli and served with guacamole and crème fraîche, is particularly worth a try.
Afternoon tea is served each day in the Langdale lounge, which also doubles up as the hotel bar, while the Windermere Restaurant offers evening meals that have a more traditional English feel and is also the place where guests go for breakfast.
What to do: The chance to cross 10-and-a-half mile long Windermere should not be missed. Windermere Lake Cruises offers tours running from 45 minutes to three hours, with magnificent views of mountains, secluded bays and wooded islands from the water combined with knowledgeable commentary from friendly guides.
Worth writing home about: While work on the new spa facilities is yet to be fully completed, the health club area has much to recommend it, including a 50ft pool, a Jacuzzi and a sauna. It is also well worth taking the chance to make the most of the resort’s luxury beauty treatments – a 30-minute back, neck and shoulder massage with hot stones is one of several on offer and will ensure that you leave feeling more relaxed than when you arrived.
Concierge tip: Six miles from the resort is the diminutive Grasmere Gingerbread shop, selling unique spicy-sweet treats based on an 1854 recipe invented by Victorian cook Sarah Nelson, who sold gingerbread to visitors and villagers from a tabletop on a tree stump outside her front door. The advent of the steam railways meant tourists were soon flocking to try the treats for themselves from her cottage, which eventually became the shop. Nowadays, the gingerbread remains in considerable demand – meaning the best time to visit is during the week, as at weekends the queue can often stretch down the road.
To book: Low Wood Bay Hotel & Resort (0333 2203 105, Low Wood Bay), Ambleside Road, Windermere, LA23 1LP. Prices start from £158 per night, based on two adults sharing a double room with bed and breakfast.