Stylist’s deputy editor Susan Riley tests the waters – quite literally – at Cumbria’s Another Place, The Lake
With a childhood spent an hour’s drive from the Lake District, I have seen Cumbria on all its axes. I have school-tripped in Great Langdale; motorbiked across the Honister Pass; boated on Lake Windermere; braced the short, sharp walk up Gummer’s How and eaten so much sticky toffee pudding in Cartmel that my insulin levels are still sky-high.
Now I live south, it irks me how far those lands are. Because I know, even after seeing so much of the world, that there is absolutely no place quite like it.
Others know this too: the locals who will never leave, and the hoteliers moving in to give it their full attention. Like the team behind Cornwall’s Watergate Bay Hotel – proprietors of new and evolving hotel collection Another Place – who have chosen the lapping shores of Ullswater on which to launch their very first property: Another Place, The Lake.
The first thing that strikes you about the hotel is that it’s all-inclusive (no, not like that). Everyone is welcome here: kids, dogs, lazy idlers who just want to find a squishy sofa and eat a comfort lunch of mushroom soup with truffle, and active types who can’t sit still. The latter category will particularly love it, as the first thing you see on checking in is a giant blackboard detailing all manner of pursuits. The day we arrive, there are two sessions of stand-up paddleboarding scheduled; the day after, the same, but with a kayaking lesson and a half-day sailing taster thrown in for good measure. It makes me tired just looking at it. But it’s a great touch. And if you’ve never worn a wetsuit when you arrive, I bet you a giant fishbowl G&T that will have changed by the time you’ve left.
Another Place, The Lake is absolutely right to put the water front and centre of their guests’ experience. They’d be silly not to, what with Ullswater – the second largest lake in the Lake District – right outside, slinking its way around the vista and Ullswater Yacht Club sitting right across the way. It’s what makes the 20-metre swimming pool sing so (its glass walls generously overlook it). And why you’ll come back here time and time again over just another view-less hotel.
It’s mid-September when I visit and still pretty temperate,so embracing my surroundings I find myself wetsuit-ready and pushing a paddleboard away from the shore under the friendly instruction of Adrian, who runs Ullswater Paddleboarding (ullswaterpaddleboarding.co.uk; £40pp for an intro session). I’m not that sporty (although admittedly do snowboard) but it’s reassuringly straightforward and extremely peaceful – especially when surrounded by such incredible scenery. After two hours I’m smug as hell that I haven’t fallen in. I haven’t exactly moved at lightning speed either, but you can’t win them all. My main point is: I’m hooked. Do it and I guarantee you will be too.
Wetsuit off (there has to be a better way to exit those things, no?), and the rest of my afternoon is spent swimming, outdoor hot-tubbing and having an excellent massage (there are two treatment rooms and a manicure station just off the pool). For more outdoor action, get an Ullswater ‘Steamer’ boat round the lake or head out to conquer a segment of the Ullswater Way: a 20-mile walking route that circumnavigates the lake and can be chopped down into very manageable chunks. We pootled round the waterfalls of Aira Force the next afternoon for just over an hour and felt virtuous enough.
The hotel’s 40 rooms are divvied up between the main house – of which bedrooms are surprisingly traditional compared to downstairs – and the new wing, where the more modern family suites and dog-friendly rooms sit. Morning times can be a little louder this side, although I will say that at no point do families overwhelm, thanks to the genius (and so cool that adults will want to play there too) Ofsted-registered kids’ space. Ideal for family get-togethers and group celebrations, it includes a safari tent for teens complete with pool and table tennis tables, and supervised sessions are offered free-of-charge each morning and evening so that parents can relax without the expense of a sitter.
In the evenings, if one of the Lakes’ famous pubs aren’t in your sights, simply head downstairs and unwind. First, with a drink in the library: an adults-only space that could be bettered with its own bar. And then over dinner in the Rampsbeck Restaurant, which focuses on local produce (I’d advise saving the more informal The Living Space for lunch). The night we dined, everyone around us ordered the ribeye steak and chips, so we copied them and didn’t live to regret it. Although I confess we still had room for the chocolate marshmallows found later stashed in our bedroom fridges. And for the DIY waffles the next morning at breakfast, where freshly made batter was poured on hot griddles by whoever fancied a go… It was hard not to. All that paddleboarding and fresh Ullswater air makes you hungry for more.
Doubles (B&) start from £160 and family suites from £270; Escape To The Lake packages (two-night stays with dinner) start at £169 in winter; another.place/the-lake