Sitting on the edge of 43 acres of forest, near the picturesque town of Grasmere, this gorgeous gothic mansion has been painstakingly restored and brought bang up to date with tasteful décor and furnishings throughout.
The hotel has 20 stunning rooms, which are all stylishly decorated and feature small details inspired by the local environment (such as insulation and carpets made using wool from the Herdwick sheep) and coffee table books featuring local landscape photography) - little touches which add a bit of personality to the rooms.
Animal lovers both young and old will love the local wildlife, which includes sheep in the nearby fields and red roe deer, which roam the grounds.
Our room - ' Oak'
During our visit, we stayed in Oak, an absolutely stunning room, named after the trees in the garden, which felt very grand indeed. Soaring high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows with views over the garden and a gorgeous (and extra comfy) 10,000 springs bed made for a very impressive first impression - so good in fact, that my husband exclaimed that it was the best hotel he’s ever stayed in!
The en-suite bathroom was massive and large enough to rival most London living rooms! The best feature was the large, egg shaped bath (great for sinking into after walking in the fells) as well as a rain shower, ensuring guests can relax and unwind in style.
We loved the beautiful bar with its opulent wallpaper and cozy armchairs, which are perfect for sinking into as you enjoy one of bartender Bruno’s expertly prepared cocktails. He even has a selection of cocktail bearing his name, which shows what an integral part he plays in the creation of the cocktails.
The bright and airy dining room, with its fabulous views of the hotel’s garden, is the heart of the hotel, with many guests coming to stay just to enjoy the fabulous cuisine and the natural surroundings. The scrubbed oak tables, olive green leather chairs and votive holders, which feature fresh moss, give a nod to its forest namesake.
Chef Kevin Tickle heads up the helm here, focusing his efforts on extracting flavour from the Cumbrian Landscape, which results in unique taste combinations and a truly memorable dining experience. We've eaten in several Michelin Star restaurants over the years, and the quality of the food here is on par with some of the best restaurants we've dined in.
The Forest Side has three dinner menus for guests to choose from: the 3 course a la carte menu (£50 per person), a 6-course menu (£60 per person) and a 10-course menu (£75 per person).
Cumbrian hospitality at its best
The service at The Forest Side is second to none, and all staff (who are dressed in sharp, olive green equestrian- inspired uniforms) are super-efficient, ensuring that all elements of the dinner were perfectly orchestrated throughout - providing guests with an exceptional dining experience that’s truly memorable.
Before you check out (not that you'll ever want to leave), ensure that you indulge in breakfast, which is superb. The quality of the breakfast offering was second to none and everything was extremely fresh and beautifully prepared. We tried the Eggs Benedict and the scrambled eggs with salmon and the porridge with fresh fruits, all of which were scrumptious.
Prices starting from £349 per night (including breakfast).
Our experience overall
The property: ★★★★★
Food and drink: ★★★★★
Staff attentiveness/friendliness: ★★★★★
During my stay I was hosted by the lovely team at Forest Side Hotel. All words, opinions and photos are my own.