There is simply no better place to enjoy the British Summer than in the English Lake District. When blue skies are the backdrop for mountains and far stretching woodlands and the sun sparkles on the lakes and rivers you truly witness one of the most beautiful places on earth. So there is no better time to book a stay at one of the most luxurious properties on the border of Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales, Hipping Hall.
Found on the outskirts of the quaint village of Kirby Lonsdale, Hipping Hall dates back to the Mediaeval period but it was in the 17th Century that it was brought together by an enterprising Blacksmith and revived most recently in 2017 by owner Andrew Wildsmith who has transformed the property into a destination in itself.
As much as I love to visit the Lake District in Summer, my fiance and I visited Hipping Hall on a rather dreary weekend in Winter, so I got to experience the cosy getaway so many tourists crave at that time of year. Upon arrival we were given a quick tour of the main building where the restaurant and lounge bar as well as 6 bedrooms were located and then were taken across the courtyard to our cottage known as The Stables. All rooms have been conceived by renowned designer James Mackie, and boast feature Farrow & Ball colour shades, stunning Cole & Son wallpaper and warm toned fabrics. The lighting is warm and inviting and we were absolutely thrilled to discover underfloor heating throughout the rooms.
Our cottage had a stunning bathroom with freestanding bath and a waterfall shower, a separate snug/conservatory that was perfect for listening to the rain thrash against whilst snuggled up inside and a gorgeous slate terrace looking out over the grounds and surrounding woods. What was great about the space was that there was plenty of just that, space. I was able to enjoy reading (ok scrolling through Instagram!) in the snug whilst he enjoyed a late night film on the huge TV in the bedroom. But of course the whole point of a getaway with the one you love is to spend time together so we booked ourselves a romantic meal at the property’s 3 AA Rosette restaurant.
Overseen by head chef Peter Howarth, the restaurant produces epic tasting menus that blend Asian flavours with traditional local produce sourced from the three neighbouring counties of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria. It might not sound to everyone’s taste, but trust me just wait until you taste it! Our lovely waitress Georgina sat us down on the most amazing oak table and gave us the menu of what was about to come. The dinner menu consists of either 4 courses for £65 or 8 courses for £100 both with matching wines from well known and small vineyards. We opted for 8 courses with matching wine at £80 per person and were introduced to sommelier Robert who would talk us through the wines we would be enjoying.
We began with ‘snacks’ consisting of mackerel lollipops and bite size cheddar in breadcrumbs with gooseberry followed by prawn toast. No ordinary prawn toast of course, this was not a soggy, overcooked attempt at something resembling Chinese food, this was delicately crisp bread with juicy, fresh prawn paste with black and white sesame seeds. Fabulous! Our first wine to go with the duck course was a 2019 Pinot Noir from South Brook Vineyard which cut through the carrot cooked in shio koji and sesame jelly served with the Gressingham duck breast, leg and gizzard and was very drinkable.
A highlight for me was Cornish Dory with Morecambe potted shrimp, sea vegetables and finger lime that was paired beautifully with a 2021 Christophe Patrice Chablis 1er Cru ‘Montmains’ as well as the mutton course of Eshton Herdwick, turnip, merguez and ‘green sauce’. This dish was so stunning to look at I almost didn’t want to eat it and spoil it but after the first taste I devoured it without a second thought, only pausing to enjoy a sip of Casa Silva Cabernet Sauvignon S38.
My editor Lady Charlotte will attest to the fact that I am not a fan of dessert wine. I’d much rather a glass of prosecco or a small cocktail to wash down my sweet course. However Robert introduced me to a dessert wine which both of us simply adored. So much so we’ve got a few bottles at home now. The fresh tasting ice cold Oliver Zeter Sweetheart Sauvignon Blanc paired perfectly with Shiso granita with mandarin and yoghurt and was a real treat for the senses and I could have enjoyed another glass with the poached quince, chocolate and hay milk ice cream which was simply sublime. We left just enough room to enjoy a local favourite, Manchester tart, which made us feel right at home. A truly wonderful meal.
Full of food and wine and weary from a long drive I simply couldn’t wait for a long soak in the bath and a good night’s sleep. The free standing bath felt absolutely huge and took ages to fill (oh the joy of staying in a hotel and not having to worry about your gas bill!) and the underfloor heating after stepping out of the tub was just pure luxury. To be honest we were too warm at night, not being used to leaving the heating on so we opened a window and welcomed the sound of wind rustling through the trees and hooting owls and sheep, a welcome change from traffic and police sirens in Manchester.
In the morning we enjoyed a coffee on our terrace in the little bit of sun that popped it’s head out and headed to breakfast where we enjoyed a sensational full English with fresh orange juice and black coffee before heading out for a day of spending time with my family in nearby Coniston and Windermere then onto sister hotel The Forest Side in Grasmere. Our stay at Hipping Hall is one we will treasure, not only because of the sense of escape and peace and quiet, but for a truly memorable meal that surprised us with every course.