One of Windermere’s oldest hotels re-opened last year after a multi-million-pound refurbishment. The Hydro Hotel occupies a superb location, based in Bowness-on-Windermere, just a few minutes walk to the lake.
I don’t particularly like travel, I find it all rather stressful if a long journey is on the cards, which is possibly why I have re discovered my love of the Lake District, within two hours I’m winding through rolling hills and some of the most scenic countryside in Britain.
On this occasion I was visiting the tourist honeypot of Bowness, an old but firm favourite! Sat on glistening Lake Windermere and cloaked in inspiring fells, Bowness is as popular as ever with tourists from across the globe drawn by the various famous attractions (lake steamers, World of Beatrix Potter, gift and tea shops galore).
I was looking forward to visiting the recently refurbished Hydro Hotel, a 19th century building which stands in an elevated position with spectacular views across Lake Windermere. Arriving mid afternoon, my friend and I were welcomed warmly by general manager James, who was more than a little entertaining as he regailed a tale about eating a cheeseburger with Frank Sinatra whilst leading us to our room.
I can certainly see where the money has been spent on the restoration. Our room was bright, airy and very stylish. The soft furnishings infused the room with accents of colour in hues of mustard and teal, and the best bit – the view! The lake view balcony allowing us to sip wine in comfort watching the lake steamers ferry eager tourists back and forth across the water. People watching at its best!
We slipped on the fluffy robes, as is tradition with my weekenders and began the process of readying ourselves to sample the delights of the towns sprinkling of cool bars full of cocktail drinking, afternoon tea taking hipsters. Yes, I’m afraid if you were under the impression that Bowness is still full of beige walking trousers and crampons, you’re in for a surprise!
So to the bar – also a tradition of my weekender trips. The hotel bar is stylish and comfortable with a relaxed vibe. As we perched on the red velvet bar stools we were treated to some theater as a charismatic bar tender fixed us some delicious cocktails. A really pleasant start to Friday evening.
A five minute stroll and we were in the heart of Bowness, the hustle and bustle in clear contrast to the tranquility of the hotel, but great fun. There are plenty of bars and restaurants, trendy boutiques and the obigatory tat shops to wander around. We decided on a drink or two in the cheekily named, Fizzy Tarte, a rather delightful patisserie and cocktail bar that is certainly worth a visit if you’re in this neck of the woods.
Back at the Hydro with our appetites whetted, we headed for the restaurant, 1881 – named after the year the hotel opened. It certainly isn’t fine dining at the Hydro but there is a substantial food offering with plenty of classic pub grub type dishes such as spinach & ricotta ravioli, bbq baby back ribs, steaks, burgers salads and snacks.
It was casual dining in the spacious restaurant and we enjoyed our meals of perfectly grilled steak and tender lamb rump. Just the job after the sugar laced cocktails earlier. The staff were pleasant and attentive and on the whole we really enjoyed our dining experience.
After a restful nights sleep and an invigorating blast in the very powerful shower, we were back in the restaurant enjoying the bountiful breakfast on offer. Cereal, fruit and pastries with fresh juices and toast available alongside the hot buffet selection which I normally find rather lack lustre. However, on this occasion everything was fresh, well cooked and tasty. I was impressed by the quality of the produce on offer, breakfast frankly exceeded my expectations.
All in all our stay at the Hydro was fab. The location makes this hotel a real winner for me, set back from the tourist masses of Bowness but close enough to dive right in to the action – why not take a lake cruise? Windermere Lake Cruises provide a scenic way to cross Lake Windermere taking in views of all the hills, felltops and Islands – providing different return trips to Bowness, Ambleside and Lakeside. I also must add that there is a swimming pool, hot tub and sauna for guests to enjoy, however we didn’t use these facilities on this occasion although I sneaked a peek and it looked rather inviting – but not on a full stomach.
The Hydro is also licensed for weddings and can accommodate up to 200 guests, given its location over looking the lake, I imagine any wedding celebrations would enjoy a spectacular backdrop!
The service and staff were great from check in to check out, always smiling and friendly which makes all the difference. I wouldn’t hestitate to stay here again and you can find some rather reasonable room rates online.
Find the The Hydro Hotel – Helm Road,
LA23 3BA or call to make your reservation on 01539 444455