Windows on the wild
“I’m really interested in the interface between indoors and outdoors,” explains Will Ashworth, Another Place CEO. “And especially by this concept which we call ‘active relaxation’: a hotel experience which also immerses you in nature, landscape and the outdoors.
“This is the idea which underpins Watergate Bay Hotel. We’d always wanted to try to replicate it elsewhere, but had never found quite the right location. Then we came across this place: an old country hotel, surrounded by eighteen acres of lakeside grounds, right in the heart of the Lake District. Instinctively we knew it was perfect. The hard part was figuring out how to make the hotel we had in our heads a reality.”
To bring his vision to life, Will turned to Household, the innovative L.A. and London-based design practice who had previously helped shape the look and feel of Watergate Bay, and whose impressive roster includes brands such as Harrod’s, Soho House and Christian Louboutin.
“As at Watergate, we knew the location had to inform the design,” says Will. “We wanted to make the Lakeland landscapes an integral part of the experience. The idea was to create a lifestyle hotel that echoed the ethos of Watergate, but with its own unique sense of place, rooted here in the Lake District.”
For Household, a major part of the brief was to preserve the character of the original late 19th century building, while simultaneously creating a modern structure fit for the 21st century.
From the outset, the decision was made to celebrate this clash of old and new, rather than conceal it. Using open-plan interiors and clever connecting spaces, the design team created a sense of flow between the old and new parts of the building.
Expansive areas of glass were used to frame the views – notably in the Swim Club, with a 20m glass wall pool that creates the feeling of swimming into the hills – while the palette subtly reflected the Lakeland surroundings: field greens, slate greys, bracken reds.
Bespoke furniture was also sourced from local makers, reflecting the Lake District’s long connection with the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th /early 20th century.
The aim, in Household’s words, was a hotel that felt “like a best friend’s holiday house” – a laid-back, stylish retreat that showcased the ‘active relaxation’ lifestyle. They even reused familiar design elements from Watergate Bay (such as the striking zig-zag floor in The Living Space), allowing the new hotel to feel both subtly familiar and intriguingly new.
“Household understood exactly what we wanted to achieve,” Will continues. “The flow between inside and outside, the celebration of craftsmanship, the combination of rusticity and luxury, the passion for the outdoors. I think they did a fantastic job.”