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Why you should make a date with The Forest Side in the Lake District, AA’s ‘Hotel of the Year England’

2 months ago

Why you should make a date with The Forest Side in the Lake District, AA’s ‘Hotel of the Year England’

The Forest Side in Grasmere, Lake District really does live up to the awards its won and recognition its gained.

If you’re anything like us, Christmas seems long ago and with a busy start to the New Year you’re already flagging.

You need a break away; not a long holiday that can sometimes be more stressful than it’s restful, but the chance to unwind, relax, and recharge.

And after our amazing ‘escape’ we reckon we’ve found just the place.

The Forest Side Hotel in Grasmere has got to be one of the most luxurious and yet welcoming hotels to head to in the Lake District, for you AND your four-legged buddy.

So if you fancy giving it a go too, here’s why we think you should …

It’s the AA’s ‘Hotel of the Year England’

This is one of the most prestigious awards which only gets handed out to the best, rewarding the people who ‘consistently offer excellence’ to their guests. Alasdair Elwick of Forest Side says: “I’m not going to lie – we’re absolutely buzzing to win the AA Hotel of the Year for England, it’s an absolutely mega-achievement for us all at The Forest Side. We work so hard doing our thing, in our way and how we want to do it, our guests love it, and our honest and genuine approach clearly has been recognised.” And they really do deserve it!

Dog welcoming – not just dog-friendly

If you want to take your dog away you might reckon you’ll have to give the crisp cotton sheets and fine-dining places a miss – but you couldn’t be more wrong. Our VIP – Very Important Pooch – Georgie couldn’t wait to get out of the car and explore as soon as he saw the acres of woodland as we arrived, and that was before he knew just what was in store. Georgie got his very own welcome pack, which included a personalised welcome letter (!), his own comfy dog bed, two dog bowls, and treats to help him settle in. We were told about loads of walks he might like and, while he understandably wasn’t allowed in the restaurant, he was made a fuss of everywhere else.  (Rest assured though, we’re told the rooms are cleaned to such a high standard that if you’re not a dog person you won’t know one’s been staying there!)

Location

The Forest Side Hotel Grasmere Lake District - The guide Liverpool

Sheltering at the bottom of sloping woodland, Forest Side is an impressive Lakeland stone building on the road from Grasmere to Keswick; not far from the busier Ambleside and Windermere but ideal if you want something a bit quieter. It’s idyllically set within 43 acres of woodlands and gorgeous gardens with rare rhododendrons brought back from China and more traditional English blooms. From our room, we had the most stunning views of rolling hills and lakes on one side, and the beautiful countryside on another. We even spotted deer and red squirrels. If we were to choose one word? Magical.

Amazing Rooms

The Forest Side Hotel Grasmere Lake District - The guide Liverpool

We stayed in one of Forest Side’s ‘Superb’ rooms and they totally live up to their name. For those in the know, they’re designed by the renowned James Mackie, they’ve got luxurious wall coverings and fabrics by Zoffany, and ultra comfy Westmorland beds made specially for Forest Side by Harrison Spinks. For us that meant they were elegant and classy and so-o-o comfortable, the sort of rooms that you fall into, feel instantly at home in, and don’t really want to leave.

Fabulous food

With a Michelin-starred chef in Paul Leonard we knew we’d be impressed but I don’t think we realised just how much. A culinary ‘artist’, he creates masterpieces combining really interesting and unusual flavours inspired by his love of the countryside and the freshest, fab ingredients. We had the eight-course taster menu and we have to say it was one of the best dining experiences we’ve ever had, with every dish unique, too beautiful almost to eat – almost! – and everything about it explained so we could savour each mouthful as much as its story.

It included hand-dived scallop, roast chicken, and hen of woods; poached North Sea cod with a sauce made from Solway brown shrimp, and a first of the season’s rhubarb and custard: it was fine-dining but not pretentious, with every mouthful offering comfort and tasting delicious. Even breakfast was a bit (LOT) special with homemade granola, foraged wild mushrooms, smoothies, and fresh farm produce adding a golden touch to all the usual fayre (and our avocado and poached egg on roast was out of this world).

Loads to do around

The Forest Side Hotel Grasmere Lake District - The guide Liverpool

So intimate and peaceful, like we said, The Forest Side is the perfect place if you want to get away from it all, but you don’t have to go too far either for things to do. You’re in Wordsworth country here so you can walk into the centre of Grasmere and visit his home, Dove Cottage; his grave in St Oswald’s Churchyard, and the daffodil garden that inspired the famous poem. And don’t forget to leave without buying some of Sarah Nelson’s famous Grasmere Gingerbread! You’ve also got the impressive walks and scenery of Rydal Water near to. We stayed close to Forest Side on our first day and had a potter around Ambleside and all its quirky indie shops and cafes before we left.

Easy to get there

It’s a straightforward journey up the M6 from Liverpool and providing you don’t choose peak time to set off, it’ll only take you a couple of hours.

The personal touch

It’s not just in the bar of a certain ‘80s sitcom where everybody knows your name. We were hugely impressed to be told after a drink in the gorgeous bar area that there was no need to sign anything, everything was sorted. ‘But you don’t know our name, who we are?’ we said … but they did. There are only 20 rooms and the staff knew all their inhabitants by name. Professional with a capital ‘P’ and yet so friendly (and yes there was a Scouser working there – isn’t there always?!).  

Attention to detail

From the letter to Georgie to the knowing of our names, there was nothing that escaped their attention in helping us to have the best stay. When we arrived there was no queueing in reception, we were taken straight to our room and checked in there so we could start our break from the moment we walked in. In the restaurant, it wasn’t just the wines that they could tell you about it was the beers too, what was in them, where they came from … they know their stuff.  And they know what makes a good break, and they make sure that’s what you have.

One more thing…

When can we go again?

Find out more about offers and breaks at The Forest Side: www.theforestside.com

Get the latest for Liverpool HERE.

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