Guest blog: A family break in the Lake District
I’ve been lucky enough to have done a fair amount of travelling over the past decade, and have stayed at some truly amazing hotels, but I was surprised to find that Another Place was the first I’ve visited that had me booking our second stay before we’d even left. As a family with young children, I felt like I’d hit the hotel jackpot.
Perhaps it’s because having two children has meant that we have to be more picky about the kind of holiday that we book, and with many hotels being either non child-friendly, or not allowing kids at all, our offerings are more select than they used to be. I have a definite ‘type’ in mind when it comes to choosing a hotel: indie over chain, small over big, a luxury feel with lots of thoughtful touches but with a relaxed vibe, rather than one that is so fancy that it leaves you feeling a little intimidated. But now, add to that mix the ‘child-friendly’ factor and your search results are suddenly cut right down, as lots of places that fit the above criteria will have decided that toddler tantrums throw off their hard-earned groove.
Step in Another Place, The Lake. The sister hotel to The Watergate Bay Hotel in Cornwall, it pretty much ticks every single box for me: small, friendly, boutique vibe. Feels like a luxury hotel, but you won’t get any disapproving glances at your wellies or flip flops. Gorgeous interiors. Swim Club including the treatment rooms and infinity pool. Kids’ Zone. There are a handful of places that fit the bill down in the South of England, but for the Lake District this place is in a league of its own.
Ben, Oscar Wilf and I first visited Another Place in February for two nights, when Wilf was only 5 weeks old, and it holds special memories as our first holiday as a family of four. Our second visit was for three nights in June, for my birthday. Here’s what we got up to…
We arrived on Sunday at lunchtime and as it was a beautiful day we had a picnic down by the lake. There was a huge meadow of buttercups in front of the hotel, so I sat there feeding Wilf feeling blissed out while Ben and Oscar paddled and threw stones in the lake.
I was booked onto a paddleboard lesson in the afternoon. I got kitted out with a wetsuit and headed out onto the lake with an instructor and one other guest. I’ve tried stand up paddle boarding a few times before and I absolutely love it! It feels so freeing to be out on open water, just you, a board, and a paddle and it’s brilliant exercise – my poor tired abs need it after having two kids! We ended up doing a 4 mile round trip; I definitely felt like I’d earned my dinner!
I returned to the hotel to find Ben and Oscar having an absolute ball in the swimming pool whilst Wilf watched on from his pram. The stunning infinity pool is definitely one of my favourite things – plus there is a wooden sunken outdoor hot tub for the grown ups.
We were booked into the main hotel restaurant, the Rampsbeck, for a three course meal that evening. If you’re dining there, the cost is inclusive of a freshly cooked buffet-style kids tea between 5pm and 6pm. We were so impressed with the food on offer and Oscar gave it a big thumbs up. As Oscar had skipped his nap that day and was super worn out, rather than taking him to the Kids’ Zone whilst we had our dinner, we put him to bed in his room and made use of the video monitoring service that the hotel provides on request.
The following morning, after the most delicious breakfast (the DIY home-made waffles were everything), we took Oscar up to the Kids’ Zone for a play. He told us that he didn’t want to go, but once he saw that there was a pirate ship and he had pretty much the whole place to himself, and the attention of two nursery nurses, he barely looked back at me as I said “see you in a bit!”.
After we managed to prise Oscar away from his new best friends in the Kids’ Zone, we headed out to Pooley Bridge to catch the steamboat across the lake. Ben was nearly as excited as Oscar about this, who was hopping about with glee for the whole ride. What is it with toddlers and vehicles? Give him a boat, train, or tractor and he will think Christmas has come early.
After getting off at Howtown, we had a dreamy little picnic on a secluded beach on the lake, then loaded the boys up in their carriers to go for a walk. We had planned to follow a lakeside path, but at one point on the route we saw a branch in the path that led steeply up a hill, and we decided to hike top a few paces to get a better view of the lake over the trees. A few paces turned into a few more, and then a few more, as the view just got more spectacular, and 20 minutes later we were at the top of Hallin fell after a dizzy and very sweaty climb with two sleeping boys on our backs!
We headed for an early tea all together in The Living Space, which is a relaxed, open bar area with plenty of comfortable seating and family games dotted around. This area is dog and child-friendly and it was lovely to have an alternative menu to choose from for a change – more bistro style than gourmet dining.
The following day was my birthday, and the boys piled into bed with us for cuddles and gave me their cards to open. After breakfast I had a treatment booked in the hotel’s spa; a full body massage. The spa was cool, peaceful and relaxing, and without my two gorgeous, busy boys to run around after I had the most blissed out hour in the hands of the Swim Club’s lovely spa therapist. I think I need to start every birthday from now on with a massage.
We had a chilled out day, walking by the lakeside, dipping our toes in the lake, walking around the hotel gardens and taking another dip in the pool. We also headed out for a drive whilst both boys napped, taking in the beautiful vistas of the Lake District. On the way home, we stopped at Aira Force, a National Trust waterfall close by to the hotel, and did the easy circular walk around it.
Ben and I had another delicious three course meal in the main restaurant, Rampsbeck, whilst Wilf slept in the pushchair next to us. This time, we took Oscar up to the Kids’ Zone to play and watch DVDs during our meal, rather than using the video monitor, which he absolutely loved.
We checked out the next morning, after a leisurely breakfast, and headed to Lowther Castle which had been recommended to us by the staff. The spectacular castle ruins is now home to beautiful gardens which sprawl up the walls and through windows, jumanji style. But the highlight is The Lost Castle, the most epic adventure playground I have ever seen! Maybe best enjoyed by slightly older children; I’m definitely returning with the boys when we visit next time.
As you can see, we took the opportunity to head out every day, as Ben and I love to explore, and Ben in particular isn’t great at sitting still for long. But equally, between the spa, swimming pool, water sports, walks right from the hotel door and the many peaceful spots within the hotel to put your feet up with a good book, you could easily arrive and spend a long weekend here without getting back in your car.
So there we are, Another Place The Lake, the first place we loved so much for so many reasons that we booked to go again, and probably the first we’ll be booking for the third time too! I’ve created a short film of our experience and would love for you to take a look.