Armathwaite Hall, Lake District

Described by novelist Hugh Walpole as “a house of perfect, irresistible charm”, Armathwaite Hall is a beacon of luxury in the wilds of the Lake District. Hazel Davis checks in.

First impressions

Well, what a welcome. Any hotel that greets its guests with a glass of sherry is fine by me. But it got better. The entrance to Armathwaite Hall is everything you want in a remote Lake District stately home. We could have flown in by helicopter and landed in the helipad but, er, we didn’t have one. So instead we arrived by car, driving down impossibly picturesque windy lanes on a sunny evening before crunching up a drive flanked by neat hedges and Beatrix Potter’s beloved rabbits criss-crossing the road. Guests milled around in the immaculately decorated lounge and study areas (think gloriously polished wooden panels and log fires), all ambiently lit and smelling of fortified wine, flowers and coffee.

Ideal for…

Its remote location, spa and sprawling grounds make it an ideal getaway for swoony-eyed lovers and romantic weddings. Beware, however, that Armathwaite is a family-friendly hotel, meaning this is not the place for those seeking a child-free break.

The room

Deluxe BedroomDeluxe bedroom
Armathwaite Hall


While most of the public areas of this former stately home were splendid, the walk to our room along heavily carpeted corridors featuring sturdy fire doors and industrial-lock windows contrasted sharply with the opulent entrance hall.

The rooms in the refurbished parts of the building proved to be slightly disappointing too. Our twin, with an adjoining room, offered lots of space and privacy and was spotlessly clean, but the décor was distinctly 1980s and 90s. Our king sized bed was large and firm; I excitedly ordered lavender pillows from an extensive pillow menu, which featured different scents and materials and different levels of firmness. 

The view across the grounds to the lake was amazing. There was some consternation on the second night when two families with dogs (it’s a pet-friendly hotel) checked into rooms on the floor below, and spent the whole night shouting, banging doors and scolding their dogs off for barking, but this was hardly the hotel’s fault.

Best room

The best rooms are the ones overlooking beautiful Bassenthwaite Lake. Many have TVs in the bathroom (if you get bored of looking at the lake).

Eating and drinking

Dining options at Armathwaite consisted of the Lake View Restaurant, where smart dress was compulsory, and the less formal and more contemporary Courtyard Bar and Brasserie, offering lighter versions of the main menu.

We dined in the main restaurant, complete with crisp, white table linen, silver cutlery and impeccable, efficient and polite service. We made the most of all courses and enjoyed our duck, ham hock terrine and lamb, retreating upstairs for desserts: a sumptuous strawberry tart and ice-cream pudding from the room service menu.

Breakfast was similarly taken in the Lake View Restaurant and was again a pleasing selection of hot local produce (Cumbrian sausage, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, etc) and standard buffet fare, delivered with world-class attentiveness.


Hydro suiteRelax in the hydrotherapy suite
Armathwaite Hall


We maxed out in the spa, me with an Absolute Pearl Brightening facial and my companion with a Body Stategist and Nutritional Treatment. Though the atmosphere was very different in the spa area itself (less sophisticated), the treatments were both excellent and professional and the benefits lasted several days.

The spa had a 16m (52ft) infinity pool, hydrotherapy pool, sauna, aroma room, steam room and tropical shower as well as an outdoor hot tub (where you can drink champagne under the trees) and fitness gym. It was a little busy and noisy at peak times but the facilities were great.

Room for improvement

The corridors are in need of a make-over; they seemed to cheapen the look of an otherwise stunning location. The walk to the spa area also entailed a rather bleak route through several large, empty conference-style rooms.

Out and about

There was so much to do, whether you wanted to relax by the lake or explore the grounds, where deer freely roamed. On site activities included a falconry centre offering hawk and lemur encounters, archery, clay shooting, quad biking and fishing.


Armathwaite Hall Country House Hotel and Spa
Bassenthwaite Lake
CA12 4RE
Tel: (017687 76551.
Price: Doubles from £155 (two sharing).

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