Lake District, United Kingdom

Forest Side

Rates from (ex tax)$219.72

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 (GBP199.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

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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.

 

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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 $219.72 (£166), 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 (GBP199.00), 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

Up to two well-behaved pups are welcome in each of the six designated rooms in the north wing for £20, which includes dog treats, a bed, blanket and towels. Just let the hotel know when booking. Dogs are not allowed in the lounge areas or restaurants. See more pet-friendly hotels in Lake District.

Children

This boutique getaway is best for adults and older children; it's suited to nature-loving over-12s keen on outdoor exploration. Please note: it's over-eights only in the restaurant. 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
Grasmere
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
Morwenna Ferrier

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

The lovely toiletries in the bathrooms, the views, cooked to order breakfast, cozy bar area and easy walk into Grasmere.

Don’t expect

To get a dinner reservation on the day – book ahead.

Rating

Stayed on 11 Oct 2017

We loved

Amazing Michelin-starred restaurants, superb staff, outstanding wine, easy access to the fells and great walks to burn off all the extra calories. Go on a long walk that takes in Skelwith Bridge and stops at Chesters for amazing salads, flatbreads and cakes!

Don’t expect

Don't expect a bargain – you get what you pay for!

Rating

Stayed on 1 Sep 2017

We loved

Everything – but particularly the food in the restaurant. The local pubs all seemed pretty nice, we enjoyed a pint in most of them. If you want more noise, head to Ambleside. We preferred no noise...

Don’t expect

Much noise from kids, it's nice and quiet.

Rating

Stayed on 28 Aug 2017

We loved

The location, the breakfast the look of the hotel!

Don’t expect

Room service, a quiet room or your rubbish to be taken out of the room each day your bin's emptied!

Rating

Stayed on 16 Aug 2017

We loved

Incredible food, fabulous views from the beautifully updated rooms and professional but very friendly staff. A lovely stay.

Don’t expect

Slightly noisy from floor above. Could hear loud footsteps easily.

Rating

Stayed on 21 Jul 2017

We loved

Beautiful hotel, a tastefully restored country house. The tasting menu at the restaurant was incredible.

Don’t expect

The only issue we experienced was that there was a drain smell in the bathroom. We reported to it to reception but no action was taken unfortunately as there were no workmen working that day.

Rating

Stayed on 1 Jul 2017

We loved

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at The Forest Side. The food was fantastic (which was the prime reason for our stay); the 10/11 course 'Grand Un' Tasting Menu was superb, one of the best we've ever tried. The service was impeccable and although our room was small, it was perfectly fine for one night. The hotel was refurbished recently and so everything feels brand new. You can also explore the hotel's gardens which are their pride and joy – they use the products they grow in it across their menu, in both food and drinks. Before checking in, we spent the afternoon in Windermere but we regretted this once we saw the surrounding area near The Forest Side, it's stunning! Our sat nav took us through a bizarre but spectacular walking path (we THINK cars were permitted). Our advice would be to get out on foot and explore!

Don’t expect

A spa or leisure facilities within the hotel.

Rating

Stayed on 27 May 2017

We loved

Everything! From the moment we arrived to the moment we left. The hotel staff were amazing, providing the understated, unobtrusive service that you receive when people are genuinely pleased to make your stay as memorable as possible. Also the food – you need to go to appreciate how outstanding everything was.

Don’t expect

Lively nights.

Rating

Stayed on 19 May 2017

We loved

The service, the food and the room.

Rating

Stayed on 13 May 2017

We loved

Lovely hotel nestled in the Lakes, easily accessible to the local village of Grasmere (walkable). The hotel staff were really friendly and knowledgeable about the local area, providing helpful hiking maps and routes. The main reason we chose Forest Side was also to be able to eat at the hotel's restaurant - we were not disappointed! We opted for the 10-course tasting with matching wines - highly recommended. Breakfast is also very good with everything made to order. The room itself was nice (we had Wild Cherry) although the view of the carpark left a lot to be desired. For the amount of time we were in the room however it wasn't a major issue. The bathroom was excellent with a great shower and probably the biggest bath we've ever used. Overall a great short stay - would definitely book again. The restaurant in the hotel is excellent, but given the menu only changes with the seasons you will probably only want to eat once. Try the Old Stamp House in nearby Ambleside - also very good!

Don’t expect

Lots of nightlife - you're deep in the lakes. There is a good bar in the hotel however. Depending on your room type, you may, or may not, get a good view. We booked a "superb", but had a glorious view of the carpark.

Rating

Stayed on 17 Apr 2017

We loved

The food – we would recommend the tasting menu with paired drinks. The staff. The attention to detail. Grasmere is a lovely village with lots of independent shops, galleries and cafes.

Don’t expect

Wild party nights! 

Rating

Stayed on 4 Apr 2017

We loved

The bedroom, the bathroom and the fabulous food. The lovely terrace that is ideal for a glass of wine in the sunshine.

Rating

Stayed on 1 Apr 2017

We loved

The food was amazing and service was great! Would highly recommend.

Don’t expect

Wild nightlife.

Rating

Stayed on 11 Mar 2017

We loved

The calm atmosphere and understated luxury. Grasmere has loads of small places to eat drink... and for a few days away you won't need to go anywhere else. The walking is accessible from th ehotel and you can go for easy lake walking or be more adventurous up beyond Easedale Tarn.

Don’t expect

A wild nightlife... but relaxtion and treats galore!

Rating

Stayed on 12 Feb 2017

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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