Forest Side, Grasmere


The clue is in the name for this Victorian gothic mansion surrounded by trees, hills and greenery. Driving in on a winter's night the spectacle of the 4-star hotel on first sight is quite breathtaking. Situated in the heart of Wordsworth country, the Forest Side has a roaring fireplace that delivers an immediate sense of atmosphere as you look out onto grazing cattle.


We took our two children Ryan (13) and Christina (11) and the hotel provided two rooms with an interconnecting door. The lush interiors are designed by James Mackie, offering a timeless feel. We had a cosy and comfortable sleep while the washroom is furnished with a large bath and toiletries by Bramley. A look out onto the stars and a breath of fresh air all helped with a good night's sleep.


The restaurant makes the most of the surroundings, while eating you look out onto birds in flight over the garden and woodlands. The eight-course Michelin-starred tasting menu was excellent and the staff organised a less complicated meal for our children, from the Cumbrian larder. We enjoyed the grilled Shetland mussels and poached North Sea cod followed by a selection of local cheeses. The breakfast crumpets lived up to their outstanding reputation.


The hotel has a passion for cocktails, perhaps the most popular is the coffee infused Cumbrian Express. Equally tasty are the mocktails which offer the fresh flavours of the area. The Grass-mere is perfect if you're on a health kick, made with cucumber, pineapple, sage, lemon and apple.


We drove the 25 minute distance to Keswick to the weekend market, it's a lively place with a varied selection of art, clothes, food, music and toys among the many stalls. Keswick Collectables houses a fine selection of vinyl, although a bit pricey, a bit of haggling is required. The Old Keswickian does a fine pot of tea and portion of chips. The Alhambra cinema is also worth a visit for a step back in time, much better than a multiplex.


There are a number of scenic walks and footpaths here in the heart of the Lake District and around the hotel. The village is a 10 minute stroll away and one of the most popular in Cumbria due to links with William Wordsworth. Grasmere Gingerbread, which is more like a shortbread, is not far behind Kendal Mint Cake in terms of local reputation. Invented in 1854 by cook Sarah Nelson, her trademarked confectionery was baked in her church cottage home. It's now a famous shop attracting visitors from around the globe. If you're in a rush or don't like the look of the queue they also do mail order.

An overnight stay with dining in the Michelin star restaurant from £429 a night. For further information visit