Like many people I love a bit of history and the ability to step back in time and imagine what life was like long ago and dare I say it the British do it better than most. If you’re seeking a taste of the Best of British in a luxurious, well preserved, mansion that dates back as far as the 16th century, then look no further than the beautiful Askham Hall Luxury Bed & Breakfast on the edge of the Lake District in Penrith, Cumbria, about 4.5 hours drive from London. This magnificent old property features grand lounges, traditional oak panelling and beams, beautiful turrets, high ceilings, lavish guest rooms with four poster beds and views across the countryside to take your breath away.
Set in a secluded part of the Lake District, just over the hill from Ullswater, Askham Hall currently offers 15 bedrooms, each completely different from the last, with quirks to delight all imaginations. In addition, there are acres of grounds to explore with manicured gardens and topiared bushes that look like they’ve stepped right of the pages of Alice in Wonderland; a restaurant that deserves its own Michelin star; a spa; outdoor pool; library with wonderful honesty bar and a converted ancient oak beamed party barn which is perfect for functions and events. Having said all this there is no pretence or snootiness in this establishment to make you feel unwelcome, instead you are greeted like long-lost friends and met with loving little touches like a welcome card from the staff and there is very much a kick-you-wellies-off-at-the-door kind of homeliness about it all.
Every room at Askham is different and the sizes can vary greatly, but each room has a character of its own and stunning British countryside views. All rooms come with flat screen TVs, free wi-fi, bluetooth radios and telephones and the rooms in the Pele Tower also feature mini bar larders and Nespresso coffee machines. The rooms are divided into 4 categories: Pele Tower Master rooms which are the largest rooms on the property and of high architectural significance. Decorated modestly to best show off their design and features, these rooms have spectacular south facing garden views overlooking the River Lowther, Knipe Scar and the fells beyond and bathrooms with large antique baths for you to soak in – bliss. Pele Tower Superior rooms are more modern and have been decorated in a more quirky way with south facing garden views. Superior rooms are located in the later 16th and 17th century wings of Askham Hall, some with views over the courtyard and old stable block and others with views of the surrounding fields and River Lowther. These rooms ooze character and unique features such as antique fireplaces, oak buttresses in the ceiling and Chinese antique wallpaper which makes a stay in one really special. Finally, the Standard Rooms are small but very comfortable and still benefit from wonderful views and stunning design finishes like 17th century antique fireplaces combined with modern furnishings. Room rates start from as little as £150 per night. Room tip: The quirkiest and most interesting rooms are in the Peel Tower, especially at the top looking out over the front of the property. Note: due to the size of this property some rooms can be right on the limit of the wifi, but then again, who wants to be connected to the outside world when you can get lost in glorious times gone by?
There is an excellent restaurant at Askham Hall, which creates its menus based around what is in season and sources many of its ingredients from their own gardens and surrounding farms and woodland. There is a limited selection of dishes to choose from, usually just 3 choices a night, but each is exquisite in flavour and beautifully presented. The restaurant is open to both guests and non-residents from 7pm-9.30pm and for £50pp you will enjoy delicious nibbles (like a tray of canapés) before your meal, three courses, coffee and after dinner treats (sumptuous homemade chocolates!). In addition to the restaurant there is a Kitchen Garden Café hidden in the beautiful Grade II listed gardens that overlook the River Lowther. The Café (with children’s play area) serves morning coffees, light lunches and afternoon teas and in late spring and summer it also offers delicious freshly cooked pizzas from the outdoor wood-fired.
To ensure your stay is as relaxing and reviving as possible, Askham hall also has its own Spa, which is exclusive to guests only. Spa facilities include an outdoor heated pool (available to use April-October only), a Swedish sauna and a choice of over 25 treatments including: energy healing Reiki, soothing Hopi Candle Therapy, a tension-busting Indian Head Massage and a range of beauty treatments. Spa Tip: Treatments are available in the stylish new treatment room or in the comfort of your own hotel room Tuesdays to Saturdays (including evenings) and booking ahead is essential.
The gardens at Askham Hall, which you can happily get lost in for hours, are full of stunning features, including colourful terraces, unusual species of plants, formal lawns, kitchen gardens, woodland, meadows and ponds. You can also get more in touch with nature by meeting the animals which include shorthorn cattle, rare breed pigs, boer goats, ducks and chickens as well as wild red squirrels, rabbits, badgers and pheasants – hours of fun for children.
Whatever your reason to venture to this part of the world, a stay at Askham Hall will relax and revive you with sumptuous dining, invigorating spa treatments and peaceful meanders through the grounds. In addition, the great service and little touches like homemade cookies and the quirky Zzzz luggage tag on your door will all ensure you will leave with a smile on your face, planning when next to return.
Disclosure: Our property, service and product reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own and are in no way influenced by the sponsor.