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Published on Sunday, June 23, 2019

A pocket of sophistication in the wilds




Rachel Roberts stayed at The Linthwaite House Hotel and had a crash course in modern art, thanks to the incredible collection on display in every nook and cranny




First impressions: We arrived in the dark, so the elegance of the well-manicured 14-acre grounds - from the imagination of landscape artist Franchesca Watson - wasn't revealed in its full glory until following morning. More surprises lay in store with the modern sculptures that pop up all over the property. These include a striking piece called 'This is Sit', a crouching male figure with chunks of granite for a head, by artist Angus Taylor. The concierge explained that he signifies the scattered thoughts that many guests arrive with, before leaving with a more harmonious state of mind after a few relaxing days here.
The exterior of Linthwaite House Hotel is mock Tudor - so far, so Lake District - but inside, the place blows its competitors out of the water. Following a year-long refurbishment with a £10 million price tag, the boutique five-star hotel, owned by the Leeu Collection (three other properties are located in South Africa's Franschhoek, with another slated to open in Florence in 2021), combines uber-contemporary style with an impressive and eclectic art collection. It's curated by Leeu Collection owner and Indian entrepreneur Analjit Singh, who regularly drops by to add another piece to the ever-evolving living art gallery. It takes a keen and confident eye to assemble such a diverse array of pieces - from Paula Low's deconstructed sewing machine (Singer, 2010) to Jop Kunneke's bronze bull terrier (Nothing But A Hound Dog) and several hyper-real oil-on-canvas works by American artist Neil Rodger. Singh pulls it off with aplomb.

Location: As a seasoned Lake District visitor, the spectacular view from the terrace overlooking Lake Windermere and the surrounding fells surpasses any others I've seen in the area. It's a perfect spot for a summer wedding reception or an early-evening cocktail or two. The place also has a feeling of being cocooned from the outside world - just what the doctor ordered. If you can bear to tear yourself away from this little patch of paradise, there's a magical tarn (lake) around a 30-minute drive away (ask at reception) which offers a good hour's walk to work off any indulgences, plus the cute village of Coniston with its honesty shop, selling works by local artists, homemade cakes and hand-knitted items. And of course, Beatrix Potter fans will already have Hill Top, Potter's house and National Trust property, on their radar.

Rooms: There are 30 bedrooms in the main hotel and two buildings housing three super-stylish and spacious suites each. We spent two nights in a very comfortable twin room, featuring furniture and decor made by the cream of British artisans, which made for a deeply luxurious but comfortable experience. The soothing muted colour palette added an extra edge of elegance. There are unique artworks in every room too, and if you're tempted to buy any of the pieces throughout the hotel or grounds, simply ask at reception - international art dealer Everard Read is on speed dial if you can't resist a particular painting or sculpture.

Facilities: Fancy a game of croquet? Or a game of giant chess? You can do both in the grounds of the hotel, plus there's a ready supply of Hunter wellies if you get caught out in the rain. You can also take a little meander around the sculpture trail - or catch a lift in one of the hotel's electric buggies if you want to take it easy. The hotel also enjoys its own little tarn and two small boats to take a leisurely glide across the water. Keen anglers can also take advantage of the fly fishing on offer. A conference space is due to open soon; a perfect space for corporate types to breathe in the beauty of the Lakes while coming up with their next masterplan.

Wining and dining: We treated ourselves to dinner in the Stella restaurant; overseen by Sicilian executive chef Gianluca Interrante, who brings Italian flair to locally sourced produce from the Cumbrian region. For a more relaxed vibe, a menu is available in the bar and conservatory, which pays tribute to its South African sister hotels, furnished with rich green velvet and zebra accents. Or you can truly push the boat out with the eight-course tasting menu. The international waiting staff are top-notch and increase the cosmopolitan air of a stay here, too.

Highs: Linthwaite House Hotel is already garnering well-deserved awards, including a HotelsCombined Recognition of Excellence for 2018. The plaudit is given to hotels that consistently achieve the highest standards of customer satisfaction worldwide - and the Linthwaite's award reflects its ranking in the top 3% of accommodation worldwide. Based on our experience, we whole-heartedly agree.

Lows: At a push, the only criticism was that the heating in our bedroom seemed to be dialled up to 'Full Arctic', so it took a while to get comfortable. But it's a teeny tiny quibble and one that was rectified the next morning when we informed the super-helpful housekeeping staff.

Verdict: If you love your walking with a helping of serious, five-star comfort on the side, this is the place to head to. The hotel is a destination in its own right and fully deserves the buzz it has been generating since its reopening late last year.

Rooms start from £285, based on two people sharing on a B&B basis in high season.
Leeucollection.com








 

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