From the outside it may look like an everyday guest house in The Lakes, but Rich Neale and his partner find The Cranleigh offers hidden surprises that fulfil the needs of celebrities – and fill your belly too
When a hotel is located minutes from stunning Lake Windermere and has access to new ￡3m spa facilities, the comments from guests checking out come as a surprise.
“That bacon at breakfast,” they read. “The breakfast was amazing,” they continue. “Great rooms, great service, and THAT breakfast.”
The key to these comments is the local produce used in the breakfast. And this sums up the Cranleigh. The family-run hotel has the relaxed and friendly feel of a local guest house, but just round the corner is the luxury and comfort of a stylish getaway – a gem in the heart of the Lakes.
The lounge, dining and reception areas of the main building have been refurbished using contemporary classic design as a theme throughout, with the finest-quality fabrics and furnishing.
The effect is a finish that complemented the Arts & Crafts design of this period property, with the ultimate aim of creating a truly unique Lake District hotel.
At first glance, it may not look like there is much space for the Cranleigh to deliver. But the space has been used to great effect. Each room has been designed to be individual and be a home rather than simply a room. And with names like Getaway and Sanctuary, it’s easy to imagine there isn’t anyone else around.
Separate from the main hotel, the Sanctuary is a converted detached bungalow that has been transformed into its own private retreat featuring high ceilings, natural beams, remote control contemporary log-effect fire and a private hot tub alongside a stunning glass bath.
With prices ranging from ￡250 to ￡400 a night, it is ready-made for a special romantic occasion, an amazing experience the hotel believes is one of the best-kept secrets in the Lakes – though they boast that celebrities do have the inside knowledge and have been known to come along to get away from it all.
Without the wallet of a celebrity but still wanting to treat your partner to a romantic getaway, there are other options which are decadent and stunning. With its private entrance and deck, The Suite 10 also has the feel of tranquility and being away from the hustle and bustle of everyone else. And that feeling certainly continues when you see the size of the air spa bath, which can be enjoyed while watching the TV on the wall next to it.
The bed is soft and welcoming, as are the luxury chocolates. And it’s the little touches that make it extra special – the soft toy puppy just waiting to be hugged on the bed and the under-floor heating in the bathroom meaning you can walk in without being troubled by cold feet.
With a huge TV in the main bedroom which can be used to watch the 200 free DVDs on offer, it is very hard to pull yourself away, but then you would be missing something else the hotel offers. The Cranleigh is one of the few guest houses in the Windermere area offer- ing use of the spa facilities at the nearby Old England Hotel Spa. With a 20m pool offering stunning views of Lake Windermere, the spa – just two minutes’ walk down the road – bills itself as “the finest anywhere in the Lake District”.
If the aroma steam room and Roman spa seem too relaxing – or if the ice room seems too daunting – then it’s definitely worth indulging in a pamper session, with a wide range of luxury treatments.
And if that seems just too relaxing, there’s a gym to get in a few miles on the treadmill – maybe to help work off that Cranleigh breakfast. But why bother with the treadmill when, just outside the door, there is a stunning lake to walk around and huge expanse of country to explore?
The pretty town of Bowness may seem small, but a walk around shows it has plenty to offer. There are shops you would expect to find on any high street sat alongside the unique establishments you expect to find in a place such as the Lakes. And there are a huge array of places to eat and drink, from cosy pubs to be enjoyed as a relaxing venue – maybe in the clothes you have walked in – to restaurants where you can take your special someone for a special night out. Everything is within a couple of minutes’ walk of the hotel and, with all these places so close and in competition, there’s always an offer on to entice in hungry travellers, so eating out doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the bank.
But all that comes after you’ve taken in the countryside. It may be the wettest April on record but, with a complementary Cranleigh umbrella, venturing out isn’t hard – and it’s even easier when you know there’s complimentary drinks and biscuits in front of a roaring fire if you want them on your return and, of course, that bath with Jacuzzi setting.
Whether going for a boat ride, taking out your own speed boat or paddle boat, or simply catching the ferry to the other side of the lake for a nice long walk (if you’ve got your walking boots, there’s the birthplace of Beatrix Potter within strolling distance) there’s something about being in the fresh air which is invigorating and just make you want to try out new things.
It’s a stunning place and, with the Cranleigh on the main road, it’s easy to nip into the car and travel to Ullswater, Derwentwater, Wast Water and Coniston.
Cumbria is also home to many famous mountains, including Skiddaw, Helvellyn, Scafell Pike and the Old Man of Coniston, to name but a few of the many walks to enjoy. Then there’s horse riding, golfing, go-karting – so many experiences within easy reach. The landscape offers so many possibilities for those interested in outdoor activities, from walking and cycling to climbing and watersports.
The owners of the Cranleigh say their aim is to change the perception of the traditional Lake District guest houses. With the individually-styled rooms, amazing bathrooms and, of course, that breakfast, they have created a stylish guest house which combines old and the new, luxurious with relaxed, leaving guests happy and wanting for nothing.
The vision of the owners, it seems, has become a reality.
CRANLEIGH HOTEL FACTFILE
The Cranleigh Hotel is situated two minutes’ walk from Lake Windermere and one minute’s walk to the centre of Bowness-on-Windermere.
Rooms at the Cranleigh range from the “new double” which costs around ￡90-95 with bed and breakfast (not en-suite but a private bathroom adjacent) to the amazingly luxurious “Sanctuary” which costs between ￡250-400 with bed and breakfast. Prices for other rooms include The Suite (￡160-￡195 with B&B) with other luxury and superior rooms around the same price. All rooms come with free use of the luxury spa nearby. Special offers are available on their website.
Tel: 01539 443293 or log on to the website www.thecranleigh.com for more - and click here to see the Cranleigh's rooms!
Published on 05 May 12 by The Journal