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The Spice of Life

Travel editor Demelza Rayner heads to the Lake District and discovers a first-class retreat for newlyweds seeking a serene post-wedding getaway

The Spice of Life: Image 1 Driving along picturesque country roads, verges bursting with wildflowers every colour of the rainbow, it was hard to believe that mere minutes before we'd been suffering the tedium of the M6. But with uninterrupted countryside as far as the eye could see, sunlight streaming through the woodland trees and lambs gamboling happily in the fields, it's fair to say that my husband and I had a spring in our step when we eventually pulled into the driveway of The Lake House. This stylish six-bedroom retreat belongs to The Gilpin, a luxury family-owned and run hotel in the heart of the Lake District that's a hotspot for honeymooners.

AND SO TO BED
With a warm welcome we were introduced to Gertie, our room for the night, with its lovely views down the valley from one window and across the fruit and vegetable garden from the other. While we were certainly in the mood to celebrate time away from children is like gold dust we left the champagne chilling while we went to explore. At first sight The Lake House appears to be a spacious home-from home with its comfy sofas, plentiful reading material and informal bar. But with a swimming pool and sauna on the lower floor, two private hot tubs and its own lake, there's so much more to it than meets the eye.

BOBBING ALONG
Wandering down to the water's edge we spotted two wooden rowing boats. Free for guests to use, we hopped straight in ands pent a blissful half-hour a float, admiring our stunning surroundings. Word has it that only two people have ever fallen in the water, so I was delighted to return to dry land without doubling the tally! With time on our side we had hours before dinner we took a stroll around the lake by foot. It only takes about 20 minutes if you don't stop en-route and leads through bluebell-carpeted woodland where we spotted a couple of squirrels leaping between the branches. With every step I could feel daily stresses ebbing away. Part of the beauty of The Lake House is that, even when all six rooms are filled, there are enough private seating areas, screened by foliage, that you feel like you have the whole place to yourselves. The hot tubs too are artfully placed one overlooking the picturesque landscape beyond and the other in a prime position near to the lake.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
While there are no restaurants at The Lake House, a short complimentary transfer takes you to The Gilpin Hotel, home to one-Michelin-starred Hrishi and our dining spot for the first night Gilpin Spice. Sat in the Chinese room, with its vibrant red walls, oriental decorations and comfy cushion-covered bench seats, it's clear that Gilpin Spice isn't your usual hotel restaurant. Loved by locals and guests alike, the menu is based around the concept of sharing plates, creating an informal dining experience using fragrant herbs and spices to elevate the dishes. After a great night's sleep we headed down to breakfast, served in The Lake House overlooking the gardens. Despite having eaten my fill the night before, I wolfed down creamy scrambled egg, locally smoked salmon and slices of freshly baked bread. With a free morning, we decided to explore the local area, driving past Lake Windemere to Grasmere, before heading back on ourselves to complete one of the lovely White Moss Walks around Rydal Water.

TIME TO RELAX
On our return to The Lake House we decided to indulge in an afternoon's spa trail, starting out with an aromatherapy consultation to select the essential oils that would be used in a later treatment. The swimming pool was available for our private use so, after a few lengths in the water followed by a salt scrub pre-treatment, we headed outside to the sun loungers to make the most of the sunshine. Gently roused from our reverie by the therapists, we were shown to the treatment room a stylish wooden structure on stilts overlooking the lake with twin beds ideal for couples' treatments. The next half-hour passed in a bit of a blur as any aches and pains were gently massaged away using the essential oils that had been mixed following our earlier consultation bliss! Next stop was The Boat House, where a light afternoon tea was served with bitesize scones, delicious strawberry jam and clotted cream could this day get any better? The answer to this question was are sounding 'yes' as, glass of champagne in hand, we finished the trail in the hot tub overlooking the lake I never wanted to leave! In fact, I would have happily stayed in that moment for the rest of the day if a dinner reservation at Hrishi wasn't calling!

WINE AND DINE
The setting for The Gilpin's Michelin-starred restaurant is rather more refined than Gilpin Spice but the layout of three individual rooms and cosy décor works perfectly to create an intimate and relaxing space in which to enjoy the chef Hrishikesh Desai's creations. We opted for the tasting menu, based around his recent TV appearance on The Great British Menu and were rewarded with plate after plate of beautifully crafted gastronomy, from a light ceviche of cured hand-dived scallops to a rich parfait of duck liver with English rhubarb.

HOMEWARD BOUND
After another tasty breakfast this time a fabulous full English we headed for home feeling energised and relaxed after a truly wonderful weekend. With its first-class restaurants, welcoming staff and scenic setting, The Lake House at The Gilpin artfully works its magic on all of its guests and we were certainly caught in its spell.

BOOK IT! The Gilpin, www.thegilpin.co.uk