Lake District, United Kingdom

Forest Side

Rates from (ex tax)$197.29

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (GBP189.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

High design heritage

Setting

Green-veiled Grasmere

Famous resident William Wordsworth's 1820 guide first enticed visitors to explore Cumbria’s Lake District, and the alluring Forest Side hotel rekindles the trend today. How so? It began with a thoughtful renovation of a gorgeous Gothic mansion, during which original Victorian fireplaces were saved and once robust gardens were restored. Add to that fluffy Herdwick sheep grazing on the grounds, a former l'Enclume chef in the kitchen, and country-chic interiors without a spot of chintz.

 

Smith Extra

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Facilities

Photos Forest Side facilities

Need to know

Rooms

20.

Check–Out

11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $197.29 (£158), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (GBP189.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

A full-English breakfast is included in the room rate.

Also

In a nod to the estate’s past, the wooden dining-room floorboards were recycled as dining-room tables, Victorian fireplaces were salvaged, and many of the original garden details were uncovered and resurrected.

At the hotel

Forty-three acres of grounds and gardens, and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, work desk, kettle and teas, coffee-making service, custom-crafted beds and Bramley bath products.

Our favourite rooms

Designer James Mackie perfected the contemporary country look throughout, but for a room with a postcard-perfect view, the Superb is, well, just that. Coveting the cushy Wools of Cumbria carpet as you pad around the room? Admire the source as you gaze out at the Herdwick sheep roaming in the meadow.

Packing tips

Bring a composition notebook for writing verse as the Lake poets did.

Also

A room designed for guests with mobility issues and their assistance dogs is available on request. Also, the restaurant, bar and guest lounge are all wheelchair accessible.

Pet‐friendly

Well-behaved pups are are welcome in six designated rooms in the north wing for £20. The dog-loving staff will greet Fido with a bed, food and water bowls, treats and a personalised letter (for literate labs, of course). See more pet-friendly hotels in Lake District.

Children

Welcome, but not overly catered to. It’s best suited for nature-loving over-12s keen on outdoor exploration. However, highchairs, rollaway beds and cots, and WiFi baby-listening are available.

Food and Drink

Photos Forest Side food and drink

Top Table

Opt for a spot in front of the large bay windows for a front-row seat of the the forest bank, garden and surrounding hills.

Dress Code

Aim for a contemporary play on cashmere and tweed

Hotel restaurant

Acclaimed chef and l'Enclume alumnus Kevin Tickle is behind the Michelin-starred restaurant’s inventive fare. Famous for his foraging, Tickle sources as many ingredients from the Victorian walled garden or gathered from the surrounding countryside as possible. The result is a creative and uniquely Cumbrian menu. Loosen belts for one of the tasting menus offered at dinner—the three-course à la carte 'the Reet l'al Un', six-course 'the L'al Un' and ten-course 'the Grand Un'.

 

Hotel bar

Order a signature English martini – gin, chamomile-infused English vermouth and chartreuse – and allow yourself to be sucked into one of the deep velvet couches in front of the wood-burning stove. Afternoon tea with a selection of nibbles and almost-too-pretty-to-eat pastries is served 3pm–4:30 Wednesday to Sunday.

 

Last orders

Breakfast is available 7.30am–10.00 am daily; lunch 12 noon–2pm Wednesday to Sunday; and dinner is served 7pm–9pm nightly. The bar is open all day until 11:30pm.

Location

Photos Forest Side location
Address
Forest Side
Keswick Road
LA22 9RN
Grasmere
United Kingdom

Planes

Manchester and Leeds Bradford Airports are both within two hours drive from the hotel.

Trains

The nearest train station is Oxenholme, approximately 45 minutes away.

Automobiles

If you’re planning to cruise around the surrounding countryside, a car is a must. The drive from London is roughly five hours via the M40 and M6, and onsite parking is free.

Other

There’s no proper helipad, but skilled pilots can land at their own risk in the field below the Forest Side (just mind the deer).

Worth getting out of bed for

One could happily fill the hours ambling the 43 acres of woodland surrounding the Forest Side. Putter around in the kitchen garden and just try to name all 25 of the herbs and 100 plus vegetables planted there. Or search the fellside and spot roe deer and red squirrels.

If venturing off the grounds, the village of Grasmere is just a 20-minute walk along the Old Coffin Trail. Pop by Dove Cottage he former home of poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, for a guided tour and a peek into life at the turn of the 19th century. Afterwards, sample something sweet at Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere GingerbreadTaste for yourself if the spicy-sweet treat created in 1854 is truly the world’s best gingerbread. For a different view of Wordworth’s beloved countryside, set sail with Windmermere Lake Cruises. Lake Windermere a 15-minute drive south of the Forest Side.

Local restaurants

If you liked the ale on tap at the Forest Side, take a trip to the source: Hawkshead Brewery (+44 (0) 1539 825260) in the village of Staveley a 30-minute drive away. Stop in the beer hall for a small-batch IPA or malty red ale paired with a snack from the beer tapas menu, or go in for the table-tipping Brewer’s lunch or herb-crusted confit duck leg. You can also go behind the scenes on a 45-minute brewery tour offered four days a week.

On the other end of the dining spectrum is The Samling (+44 (0)1539 431922), a Michelin-starred restaurant just a 15‑minute drive south. Indulge in a knock-out tasting menu with an equally spectacular setting.

One hour away, check out the dining room at Hipping Hall one of the Forest Side founder Andrew Wildsmith’s three boutique hotels. Here you’ll feast on rustic classics with a modern twist from Lancashire-native chef Oli Martin.

Reviews

Photos Forest Side reviews

Anonymous review

It was over dinner in Grasmere-set luxury hotel Forest Side, in the Lake District, that the Woody Allen quote ‘If only Dionysus were alive! Where would he eat?’ suddenly came to me. It's always struck me as a curious line – if only because Dionysus would surely be more concerned with where he’d drink, non? But back to Grasmere, and the thought which came to me in the hotel's restaurant – an airy, smart-casual place with a controlled-temperature wine cellar and an open kitchen; for dishes made using produce that’s been foraged, pickled, distilled and hunted locally, or grown in the kitchen garden, even Dionysus would have put down his drink. 

I love the confidence of an open kitchen (pots gently clattering next to diners), but with Cumbrian chef Kevin Tickle in charge – a former employee of Simon Rogan of L'Enclume, no less – such confidence is understandable. Tickle's tasting menus – 10 courses or six, both at the distinctly non-L'Enclume prices of £85 and £65 respectively – are a things of precision and wonder: allium flowers, small wedges of pork and duck, curds, shaved elderflower and black pudding which you virtually inhale. Is the restaurant the best thing about the Forest Side? It's certainly the thing it's best known for, already having earned a Michelin star and inspiring much chatter from besotted locals, but the hotel's otherwise low-key atmosphere is deceptive. As it turns out, you can have chipper staff at posh hotels. The hotel is not a vehicle for the restaurant; rather, they are perfectly paired.

Forest Side is an imposing, slate-built mansion, originally designed for an industrialist in 1853. It sits on the outskirts of Grasmere, a village famed for its rambling opportunities and gingerbread, up a drive lined with Herdwick sheep. Inside, it's standard luxe – which is not to sniff at it – distinctly unthreatening after a six-hour drive, the mood is calm Poirot-on-holiday. A wide, sweeping staircase sits in the middle of the building with large rooms discreetly shoehorned into corners, so as to minimise noise. Our room, a master suite, is a little heavy on the neutral palette but truly, that’s the only thing to take issue with. The bed is very comfortable (thanks to the custom-made, fleece-stuffed Harrison Spinks beds). The bathroom, with its automatic lighting, push buttons and walk-in shower, is the sort of thing you aspire to install in your own home but likely never will. Even the air-conditioning is perfectly pitched; though the au naturel option (open windows) presents a glorious, glass-fronted balcony for optimum views. The eco-meets-heritage look (Lincrusta walls in the stairwell; crushed-velvet sofas; gold pineapples on the mantelpiece; and tables fashioned from reused floorboards) isn't for everyone; but despite its flashy safeness, you won't tire of it over a weekend.

I should know. I arrive in Cumbria with a cold, which put me to bed for 36 hours. As it transpires, there are worse places to be ill. A view of the darkening sky over ‘the lion and the lamb’ rock outcrops over Helm Crag is certainly better than the tip of the Gherkin when you've a slight fever. Too sick to get dressed, we decide to order room service for breakfast the next morning. These menus are usually truncated. Not here. Our poor waiter lugged up tray after tray of heavy pottery: eggs Benedict, grapefruit, eggy bread, duck egg and soldiers, most of it restaurant-hot, and delivered out of hours, too. And, we should add, with the sort of temperament you simply don't get in London – every single member of staff (a mix of locals and Europeans who have all worked with Tickle before) has the sort of cheer, patience and benevolence you dream of. Truly, service like that warrants a gold star.

Still, back to my illness: following an early night and the 10-course menu (stellar: I wasn’t too full, nor wanting for anything), I manage to get up for a walk on the last day. The ever-helpful staff are even moreso when it comes to dishing out printed-out maps. I also make it downstairs for breakfast  – worth it for the crumpets and juice selection alone – and a potter around the garden,  which was damp but flourishing in autumn.

There is more to Forest Side than meets the eye. Granted, landscape-wise, this is quite a meeting: Easdale Tarn rises up behind the gold beech leaves at the back of the mansion; from the back rooms, Helm Crag punches into the sky, and its lion and lamb both rear up over the road – the last thing you see before you draw the blinds. Still, if you are of a Dionysian sensibility and do want a drink, the wines are biodynamic and peerless. One wittily-titled Old Fashioned in the hotel's delightful heritage bar would probably floor any reveller. Even Dionysus…

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith Hotel with us, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Forest Side’s Guestbook below.

We loved

We loved our bedroom, and our gourmet dinner. The food was superb. The hotel was very tastefully decorated. The staff were pleasant and helpful. It was an easy walk into Grasmere.

Don’t expect

All you get here is peace and quiet. Don't expect any lively nightlife.

Rating

Stayed on 28 Nov 2016

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