Anthea Gerrie Discovers A Secret Garden By A Famous Lake District Designer At Burn How Garden House Hotel
Burn How Garden House Hotel may not be fashion-forward in its decor, but it has a whole quiver of secret weapons to distinguish it from trendier neighbours in Bowness-on-Windermere, the Lake District’s premier resort. They include an actual secret garden by a famous landscape designer, breakfasts that have won the hotel a coveted Visit England award, and a pair of sumptuous, high-end bungalow apartments hidden behind the run of mid-century cottages with plainer facades that belies the quality of accommodation spread across a whole clutch of different buildings.
For traditionalists, there is the handsome manor house at the end of a long drive, although rooms here are smaller, with showers only. By contrast, our cottage overlooking Burn How Garden House Hotel’s piece de resistance – the garden designed by famous landscape designer Thomas Mawson before part of it was sacrificed by previous owners to make room for the cottages – was surprisingly spacious, bright with contemporary scarlet tree-print wallpaper(other rooms pay homage to nature with bird prints or florals).
All the rooms in this Garden Cottage run open up to private balconies overlooking the lawn and shrubs which won the 2022-23 Windermere in Bloom contest, furnished with chairs and a table on which to balance a cuppa from the tea tray in the bedroom. This sits atop a long wall unit incorporating a desktop and suitcase storage space with an adjacent built-in wardrobe. The en-suite boasts both a bath and over-tub shower and one cottage has an accessible wet room.
Compensation for the lack of garden view in the facing run of cottages designated Family Chalets lies in the size. Each can accommodate a family of four in an even more spacious bedroom, there’s a larger bathroom and outside seating at the front as well as a view of less formal greenery at the back. But Bay and Mews, those high-end apartments designated Junior Suites, are Burn How’s most enticing and up-to-date accommodation, with bedrooms large enough to incorporate elegant seating areas, bathrooms with underfloor heating, and separate tub and shower, not to mention bathrobes and slippers.
The two suites share their own private planted patio, and it’s only a couple of minutes’ stroll across the grounds to the main garden, which is secret inasmuch as it’s enclosed by cottages on one side, woodland on the other and the main reception building containing the large lounge, bar, and dining room and a terrace overlooking the splendid greenery, which includes many mature Japanese maples, on the third side.
That dining room comes into its own in the morning when those award-winning breakfasts comprise a multi-course feast. Where most hotels settle for bowls of fruit salad, here there are rows of every kind of berry in season and freshly-sliced mango as well as the more usual fruit selection.
Cereals too – but leave room for a full Cumbrian grill, the best kipper you will have ever tasted from a nearby Lancashire smokery, or properly-made eggs Benedict and its usual variations which substitute smoked salmon or freshly-cooked spinach for the ham. Good tea, coffee, toast, and condiments, as would be expected – more than enough to tide guests over until teatime, when complimentary cake comes out with the brew every afternoon.
An in-house parking space means there’s no parking hassle when going out to wander the long lakeshore and its park, which hosts a full calendar of activities, but the best thing about Bowness is its proximity to the Windermere car ferry. This offers fast access to the far side of the Lake District’s largest body of water, with charming little villages including Hawkshead and Sawrey and the chance to loiter observing fields of sheep, horses, and churches hidden in valleys, undisturbed by the volume of traffic which builds up on the more densely-populated side of the lake linking Bowness and Windermere with Grasmere and Keswick to the north.
While in-room television screens could be larger and furniture more modern, Burn How Garden House Hotel does score in personal attention over other large Bowness resort hotels which can be busy and impersonal. Unlike most of its neighbours it attracts locals with a thriving book club which puts it at the heart of the Lake District’s literary life – and the charm of that secret garden cannot be overstated.
Tell Me More About Visiting Burn How Garden House Hotel
Burn How Garden House Hotel, Back Belsfield Road, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria LA23 3HH Tel: + 44 15394 46226
Rooms from £145 including breakfast.