THE HOTEL WITH RUSTIC CHARM AND THE FIRST FYR GRILL
The exterior of The North Lakes Hotel and Spa is not particularly striking but step inside the interior will take your breath away.
After a multi-million pound refurbishment programme the hotel has been given a new look and with its wonderful light, welcoming and airy ambience it’s the perfect example of Cumbrian Rustic meets Scandinavian Style.
The interior design was modelled on a Scandinavian Hunting Lodge. Oak exposed beams, slate walls, wooden and tiled floors, baskets of logs and large open fire places blend beautifully with large internal windows and screens that reflect the light. But the clever design feature is the fact that the interior is built on different levels giving it a fabulous spacious feeling.
You are constantly reminded of the stunning Cumbrian countryside by a wonderful collection of artwork and wooden benches in the corridors.
However busy the hotel is you can always find a quiet space and a sinkable sofa or armchair upholstered either in leather or homespun tweed. I counted at least five lounges all spacious and welcoming. And I do mean welcoming with the added touch of a large dog bed for guests with pampered pooches and copious amounts of water in lovely decorated bowls for them.
The Conservatory is a relaxing place so light with comfortable chairs and tables just the place to enjoy a snack, afternoon tea, a light lunch or just a drink at any time of the day. I did love the box of blankets in the conservatory for those who are tempted to sit on the terrace with its message ‘Fair enough to sit out but just a bit chilly’.
The sun terrace is something else with its wooden furniture and large umbrellas just the place to sip something cold and bubbly at any time of day.
We stayed in a four poster suite, which was spacious with a separate sitting area and two T.V.’s one screen to watch from bed and one in the lounge. Bedroom décor is modern and the beds are incredibly comfortable with luxurious feather down pillows.
What really impressed was the recycling bins in each room and the aerated shower heads that reduce water consumption This hotel has many environmental savings that are a joy to read about.
Service at the hotel is excellent and every member of staff is prepared to go that extra mile. They are also very knowledgeable about the area and that’s a great help in itself.
If you are feeling in need of a little pick-me-up then The Spa is the place to head for. It has a 13 metre pool, indoor whirlpool, sauna and steam room as well as an air conditioned gym and if you feel the urge to get really fit there are pre-bookable activity classes. But if you want to be pampered or wind down completely there are some indulgent treatments available.
But the jewel in the crown of the hotel is its new restaurant FYR, Cumbria’s first open fire grill shown in our main picture
Like the hotel the restaurant has many different spaces on different levels suitable for large parties, families or those wanting a quiet corner.
In the FYR (pronounced fire) restaurant you get a real culinary visual experience as well as good food.
The chefs are centre stage in the restaurant, so you can watch them create their masterpieces as you wait or eat, on the fire grill and amazingly each are prepared exactly to the customers specification.
We started our dining experience with olives and sour dough bread whilst we looked at the menu but were spellbound by what was going on at the grill.
For starters I decided to try the taste table loaded with seafood, artisan cured meats and seasoned salads. The taste table is beautifully presented and very tempting. I just plumped for the prawns, lemon and some salad. My prawns were large and succulent and I had barely got back to my seat when a finger bowl appeared – such is the good service in the restaurant.
My partner ordered the ham hock terrine with pickled seasonal vegetables including slightly spiced gherkins and onions and a wonderful pineapple salsa. The accompaniments really complimented the terrine which was smooth and very tasty.
After our starters it was time to watch the gala performance at the FYR grill. My partner chose a FYR signature steak marinated in garlic and herbs. This was cooked to perfection, exactly as he specified it. He definitely agreed that cooking the steak on the FYR grill gave it an added flavour and succulence and not usually a chip eater, he loved the best goosefat chips it came with.
I went for the FYR fish grill comprising of seabass, salmon, king prawns and grilled lemon which came with spinach and fries. All these three fishes demand different cooking timing – and all were cooked perfectly especially the salmon.
There was little room left for a dessert but I had to have my heaven on a plate of artisan ice-cream which was served in a rather unusual glass!
We finished our meal with coffee before sitting outside on the terrace at an amazingly late hour enjoying some perfectly chilled wine – and I must admit we took advantage of those blankets.
The North Lakes Hotel is just off the M6 and five minutes walk from Penrith Station.
For reservations call 01768 865 or visit www.northlakeshotel.com for details of weekend breaks, special offers and events,
Liz Coggins is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers