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Broadoaks Boutique Country House, Windermere

Sowerby & Luff write…

As we drove up the crunchy gravel drive towards Broadoaks we were immediately struck by the quaint charm of the building – constructed of local flint and sporting a tall, elegant fountain in the front drive – the lawns and hedges as neatly trimmed as a footballer’s wife.

Co-owner Jo Harbottle told us that she has set out to create a hotel in which “Country House meets Boutique”, and at first sight she appears to be walking that tightrope with considerable aplomb. Duty manager Joe Nichols described the philosophy of the place to us as “laid back luxury for aspirational couples.”

Broadoaks was built in the 1830s and features an impressive music room designed by none other than William Morris. The Music Room is a quite delightful place – its ceiling encircled by hand-painted plaster friezes and lovingly distressed by a century of Havana cigar smoke.

In its literature Broadoaks proudly boasts “that it was the first house in Windermere to have electricity, and is now the last to have wi-fi in the bedrooms.” But it assures us that this is a work in progress,

Our bedroom boasted a flat screen TV in the bathroom, and you’d have to be very dull indeed not to find that a little bit sexy. Mind you, at times the seemingly 19th century plumbing was so noisy that it was almost impossible to hear the telly. But isn’t that all part of the fun when Country House meets Boutique?

We were a tiny bit disappointed that none of the rooms at Broadoaks directly overlook Lake Windermere, but the view from our bedroom was none-the-less spectacular – a plunging, tree lined gorge with miniature white water rapids at the bottom.

Pre-dinner canapés in the Music Room were fleetingly delicious – tuna with horse radish and black caviar and rare roast beef slivers with mustard, accompanied by a quirky mix tape of musical delights: Dean Martin followed by Judy Garland who then seemed to hand over to Don Draper’s Groovy Christmas Hits from the 1950’s.

The closest thing to local ale in the bar is a pressure keg of Tetley Yorkshire Bitter and Peroni lager on draught. But then, not everyone is looking for real ale these days. Wine prices start from around £20 for a bottle of Merlot to an eye-watering £280 for a bottle of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse De LaLande 1985.

The menu at Broadoaks is ambitious for such a small hotel. We thoroughly enjoyed the asparagus with soft poached quail eggs and croutons, and the grilled goats cheese on a crispy crumpet with beetroot. As a main course we chose Beef Wellington and Rack of Lamb with dauphinoise potatoes and a suggestion of grilled halloumi. The lamb was cooked to perfection, the Beef Wellington rather less so.

The staff at Broadoaks are professional, friendly and eager to please, and the attention to minute detail is meticulous throughout. The flowers, ornaments, cutlery, glasses and crockery are all tastefully sourced and thoughtfully placed throughout the hotel. Everything seems to be of the highest possible quality and design.

In all, Broadoaks is a quirky, enthralling and enjoyable place to stay, and very different from the kind of hotel you might normally expect to find in the Lake District. 7/10

Official Broadoaks Web Site