Start planning your trip to Cumbria with our guide to the best places to eat and drink, and where to lay your head.
Cumbria is teeming with traditional pubs and quirky hotels that are testament to the outgoing and welcoming nature of the locals. Most visitors come to this corner of northwest England for the views and the chance to stroll through the Lake District’s verdant landscapes, marvelling at crystal clear waters. For others the region is all about the gastro pubs offering hearty traditional fare and fruity local ales. Here are our recommendations for accommodation and food and drink.
Where to stay
With views over Windermere, this hotel’s 14 acres of private gardens make it the ideal place for a short break. Accommodation is chic and tasteful, ranging from simple Classic rooms to luxurious suites with features such as hot tubs, freestanding baths and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Rooms from £200
Foodies are sure to love The Samling, recently awarded a Michelin Star for its sumptuous menu (try the pan-fried turbot with squid pearls and sea vegetables and Asian-style broth) while its wine list is in the world’s top 500.
Rooms from £220
For those more used to donning Wellington boots than high heels, then why not try an outdoors overnight experience. Kirklinton Hall is a 17th-century ruined property that is currently being returned to its former glory as a self-sufficient estate. Guests can camp in the grounds and admire the beautiful surroundings of the estate’s historic gardens.
£25 per night for a four-person tent
The opulent Grade I listed Askham, the former home of James Lowther, 7th Earl of Lonsdale, has been turned into a luxurious hotel, complete with spa and outdoor heated swimming pool.
Rooms from £150
The George and Dragon Clifton
This country inn is full of character. It features a wood-panelled bar, wood-burning stoves, and banquette seats and serves home-grown fare with ingredients sourced from nearby Askham Hall.
Rooms from £95
The Fox and Pheasant Inn
Visitors to this 16th-century village inn, situated in the beautiful river setting of Eden Valley on the edge of the Lake District. Dine in the stable barn restaurant and Victorian dining rooms, and commune in the bar with its roaring log fires.
Rooms from £80
This coaching inn is favoured by those exploring the best-preserved parts of Hadrian’s Wall and combines historic charm with 21st century luxury.
Rooms from £70 per night
Where to eat
Plumgarths Farm Shop & Cafe in Kendal
Many places in Cumbria claim to serve the perfect sausage but why not follow in royal footsteps and factor in a visit to Plumgarths, which HRH Prince Charles is known to have visited. Plumgarths also sells variations on the traditional Cumberland sausage, with additions such as chilli or cranberry.
The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop
Grasmere Gingerbread is a Cumbrian delicacy that originated in the lovely Lake District town from which it takes its name back in the 1850s. The recipe – which the current proprietors insist is still in use – was popularised by a local cook, Sarah Nelson, in the 19th century and this is the only place you can buy authentic Grasmere Gingerbread.
This Michelin-starred restaurant sits in an enviable position overlooking Ullswater, which many argue is the most beautiful lake in England. This elegant country house offers lakeside dining in its 2AA Rosette restaurant, serving up such hearty meals as braised pig’s cheek and seared scallops.
Drunken Duck Inn
Nothing sums up Cumbrian hospitality better than a cosy pub and the Drunken Duck in Ambleside is a perfect example. You can book a table in the restaurant and get your fill of pub classics with a local twist – Herdwick lamb shoulder, mash, spring onions and mint jelly anyone? However, by far the best draw is the bar, complete with its oak floorboards and beams, and decorated with fox masks, prints and sketches.
Headed by experimental chef Simon Rogan, you will find this innovative restaurant along a windy ancient road in the medieval riverside village of Cartmel. But be warned, Rogan is so committed to using seasonal ingredients that the menu is dictated by what he can get his hands on, so there’s little (if any) planning ahead.
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