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In love with the lakes

sunset shot of Lake Windermere from hotel room The four-star Belsfield Hotel, located mere moments from the charming town centre in Bowness-on-Windermere, exudes class, sophistication and historical splendour. From its enviable spot on the banks of Lake Windermere, there can surely be nowhere better to enjoy the rest, relaxation and beauty of the area cocooned in sheer luxury. Whether you're looking for an active honeymoon break filled with hiking and outdoor adventure; or a peaceful, romantic escape, the Hotel offers the perfect base.
County Wedding Magazines' deputy managing editor, Kelly Andrews, paid a visit to find out more.

bar area with lit up marble bar wooden top people sitting at bar FIRST IMPRESSIONS
The Lake District is a long old drive from CWM's Essex HQ, so the eventual sight of The Belsfield's impressive facade, was welcome indeed. The perfect marriage of the historical and ultra-modern immediately had my attention. We were met in the car park by charming hotel porter Sean, who gave us one of the warmest welcomes I've ever received and kindly waited for us to check in before showing us up to our room. He wouldn't hear of us carrying even one item of luggage, so we knew within the first moments of our stay that we were going to be in good hands here. Sean's wasn't the only welcome we received though, as Lake Windermere itself already had this in hand. The moment we set foot inside the reception area, it became immediately obvious to me why its architect chose to construct it from glass, anything else would have been a travesty. My breath was literally taken away. Through the open double doors directly opposite me was one of the most incredible views I've ever witnessed. The vast expanse of the Lake glistening in the late summer sunshine and the rolling hills and peaks partially shrouded in mist. I didn't want to tear my eyes away, so it was fortunate indeed that we'd been treated to one of The Belsfield's showstopping suites complete with Lake view.

large suite with laura ashley wallpaper and furnishings in cream and red HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Mum and I were like kids in a sweet shop once Sean had wished us a pleasant stay, closed the door of our suite behind him and left us, such were the levels of excitement already reached thanks to our stunning surroundings – both inside and out. By the time reception called to ask if everything was ok, we'd already decided we wanted to move in... permanently! While the best way I can think to describe it is a home away from home, that's not entirely accurate as I can only dream that my home was this stylish and luxurious! Indeed, each of the designer rooms features elegant furnishings and delightful fabrics. From the oversized sofa and antiqued chest coffee table, to the oh-so comfortable super king size bed and huge TV, we were hooked. I'd only just managed to tear myself away from the window and that view when it was time to head down for dinner.

hotel on banks of river atop a small hill lake in view on sunny day A TASTE OF THE LAKE DISTRICT
Dining at The Belsfield Restaurant & Brasserie offers a treat for the taste buds. A fine-dining experience sure to delight even the most committed of foodies, the varied and flavour-packed menu includes such seasonal dishes as butternut squash and pine nut pithivier; slow braised shoulder of lamb; and spring pea and goats cheese risotto. Like everything else here, dinner is an experience. The staff excel at making their guests feel welcome and like VIPs. Shown to a table in the box bay window, surely the best seat in the house, we settled into our armchair-like seats looking out at that incredible view as we ate. As is the case throughout the hotel, the muted, neutral tones of the décor in the restaurant play a huge part in its calming vibe and don't compete with the idyllic surroundings, where Mother Nature does all the talking. As the sun set behind the hills and mist rolled in over the Lake we opened our menus and sipped our wine, the stresses of the motorway now a distant memory.

hotel restaurant neutral decor large windows with tables and chairs looking out to lake I opted to start my meal with the crispy pork belly with black pudding and cider cream sauce – so good I ordered it again the following night! This was followed by the main course of Cumberland sausage with whole grain mustard mash, pickled red cabbage and red wine jus. Being a cheese fanatic, I finished with a selection of local and British cheeses, which were paired with artisan biscuits, chutney, celery and grapes. But sweet treats on the menu included glazed lemon tart, date pudding and strawberry and mascarpone cheesecake. Every mouthful was a joy and the service was impeccable.

Located at the heart of the hotel is the glamorous Lounge Bar. With a warm and inviting ambience it also boasts a suite of further immaculately decorated lounges, where you can take your drink and relax overlooking Lake Windermere. That's just what we did as we made the most of the last rays of sunshine dancing on the Lake and enjoying our extremely delicious chocolatinis (vanilla vodka, Baileys and crème de cacao – highly recommended). The smallest of the lounges we found boasted décor that reminded me of a stately home's study. I could imagine Austen's Mr Bennett sitting there reading a book while taking refuge from Mrs Bennett's 'nerves'.

Breakfast too is served in the restaurant. A welcome combination of continental self service and hot food table service, the first meal of the day is just the sort of hearty fare you'd hope to fill up on before heading out for a day exploring. Again it bears repeating how great the staff are. We were looked after by the lovely Dominika, who put a smile on our faces with her friendly manner.

hotel sign in the bushes THE SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE
After a restful night's sleep we headed out of the Hotel via it's rear terrace, which brings you straight out to Bowness' waterfront, where we boarded a steamer for a half-lake cruise. Windermere Lake Cruises offers an extensive programme of options when it comes to cruising the lake, whether you want the scenic option, the full tour or island exploration. There are also combined tickets where you can incorporate another attraction. We opted for the cruise and steam train, which allowed us to see and experience much of the local area in the short amount of time we had. The steamer let us off at the Lakeside Pier and we took The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Heritage Railway to its terminus in Haverthwaite. Here, there's a station tea room and gift shop, which we enjoyed before heading back to make our connection back at the pier.

We returned to Bowness and jumped in the car to Hill Top in Sawrey near Hawkshead, the 17th-century farmhouse once home to Beatrix Potter. It was the house she bought with the royalties from the first of her books, The Tale of Peter Rabbit and is well worth a visit. Not only is the house a time capsule containing many of the author's belongings, the village itself offers a picture-perfect spot for a romantic stroll.

Keen for more of Miss Potter we wended our way back around the Lake to the opposite side and Bowness. A mere five-minute walk from The Belsfield you'll find The World of Beatrix Potter. Primarily a family attraction it's nevertheless well worth a visit for bigger kids for whom the tales of Peter and friends occupy a special place in the heart. These enchanting stories are brought to life in a magical recreation of the characters and their antics as you get to meet many of the famous furry faces we all know and love from our childhoods.

Welcomed back to the hotel by charming manager Mark, who was surprised to hear about all that we'd packed into one day, I realised just how much I appreciated the location. Another string to The Belsfield's bow is its location – right in the centre of Windermere's eastern shore it's at the heart of the action and with so much to see and do within easy reach. So, it's definitely possible to get the most out of your honeymoon here whatever you decide to make of it.

With hearts heavy at the thought of leaving the hotel we'd fallen head over heels in love with, we bundled our luggage into the car the following morning and made for home, having resolved to be back at the first possible opportunity.

BOOK IT
The Belsfield Hotel
Kendal Road, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3EL
01539 442 448 | reservations@thebelsfieldhotel.com | https://thebelsfieldhotel.com

two cocktails on a bar
pork dinner on a plate garnished
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