An amazing find with a secret Shepherd’s Hut, riverside garden and stargazer rooms
Dan Gatehouse might just be the most relaxed hotel operations manager I’ve ever met. He seemed to be everywhere and doing everything on our recent visit to Grasmere’s newest boutique hotel; on reception, springing up behind the bar, showing people round - and always with total confidence and an utterly relaxed air. He’s definitely the kind of person you’d want on your team come the apocalypse - which brings me neatly onto the question of holidaying safely during the current pandemic.
Most definitely a contender for most romantic spot in the Lake District
Victorian House Hotel, opened in the previous Oak Bank Hotel premises in March 2020, and didn’t get much of a run before it had to close again thanks to COVID-19. It’s the Lake District cousin of the five AA star Georgian House Hotel in Pimlico, London, as both are owned by hotelier Serena von der Heyde.
After ‘relaxed’, other words that spring to mind when trying to describe Victorian House Hotel are informal, eclectic and romantic – even though we’d brought our kids along on this particular trip.
The reception area (sanitiser on entry, of course) is more like a welcoming but elegant front room where Dan sits on a low antique chair typing away on his laptop to check guests in. No screens, no desk, no formality, but plenty of room for easy-going social distancing.
The hotel has nineteen bedrooms incorporating a range of ensuite twin and double rooms, as well as two suites and one two-bedroom suite each individually designed to complement the building’s original features.
Rooms have been designed to suit all manner of configurations and needs and has been perfectly set up to welcome outdoor types with features such as a Boot Room, bike washing and storing facilities, and even a warm dog shower for four legged guests.
Leading on from the reception are open-plan guest spaces with cosy nooks, snug sofas, high ceilings and original fireplaces. There’s also a bar where premium local and regional spirits can be mixed with various homemade mixtures, cordials and tinctures. Dan had a hand in choosing the small wine and beer list (including cans from local Fell Brewery) and his enthusiasm for the drink selection is infectious.
The lounge leads onto a bright conservatory, which is dotted with an eclectic mix of furniture and rugs and made a lovely breakfast spot. Beyond that is the hotel’s rear garden, where three or four outdoor tables sit – it made the perfect spot for a family game of cards and a few drinks.
We noticed a sleek wooden hut at the bottom of the garden and asked Dan about it. He grabbed the keys and showed us round. It turned out to be a luxury ‘Shepherd’s Hut’ overlooking the river Rothay rushing by with its own fire pit for cosy evenings. It’s a gorgeous, self-contained double bedroom with it’s own bathroom and most definitely a contender for most romantic spot in the Lake District.
Coronavirus scuppered plans for Victorian House Hotel’s restaurant, so they’re not actually serving food other than breakfast at the moment – and a very decent Cumbrian breakfast it was. So if you know of a talented chef or cooking team looking for a change of scenery, then feel free to point them in this direction - there's an opportunity to be had here.
With Grasmere being in the centre of the Lakes, it’s an ideal base for exploring the area. The land surrounding the hotel (or a short drive or cycle away) is ideal for walks and hikes for all levels. We took one of the easiest and headed up towards Easdale Tarn over babbling brooks and past bemused looking sheep, but there are all sorts of magically named adventures to be had.
Wherever you decide to spend your days around Grasmere, be certain that Dan and his team will be ready to welcome you back at the hotel with a carefully chosen wine list and a comfy spot to sit with a riverside view.
A stay at Victorian House Hotel starts from £165 for bed and breakfast. To book, call 015394 35217 or click here
Victorian House, Broadgate, Grasmere Village, Cumbria LA22 9TA