It was the quacking that woke me up … and pulling back the curtains I found a handful of ducks chuntering around on the grass outside the bedroom. Looking up, it was the view that really caught my attention. Lake Windermere spread out her long arms to embrace flirty yachts, wooded banks and distant fells.
I’d arrived the previous afternoon and had plenty of time to look round the hotel. It is so wonderfully quirky … in every room, in every corner, hidden in a little nook, are the most wonderful treasures. Coming in through the main entrance, your eye is immediately drawn to a large wooden sculpture of two glowing deer that seem to be anticipating your arrival.
A glint from above and there’s the most magnificent Venetian chandelier; Murano glass glitters with fruit drops that look good enough to eat. This huge piece was apparently shipped over piece by piece by the owner who fell in love with it in Venice and had to have it for this hotel. It is so unexpected and that is what makes this hotel really special …
People often ask me what Quirky Travel is all about; well this place sums it up. It’s friendly, personal, full of unusual pieces, great location, excellent service, comfortable and unpretentious, satisfies the senses and has an inspirational quotient that is hard to put into words. Areas of the hotel have been beautifully redecorated … others have an appealing ‘shabby chic’ look that may well be gone in the next phase of modernisation. Some other things that caught my eye during my stay:
- a huge urn that would have looked at home in an ancient Roman Villa
- a tiny Japanese figure incongruously placed in an enormous fireplace
- a life-size statue holding a lamp with definite Baroque overtones
- an ornately carved wooden chair that should have been in a baronial hall
… and so much more. Jonathan Allan, the friendly and very helpful General Manager, joined me in the Griffin Bar (dedicated to a local writer called Harry Griffin) and shared some wonderful tales of the owner’s mother, Ann Richardson, who had indulged her passion for the unusual and sometimes plain bonkers artefacts. She has bestowed this place with a legacy that ensures it stands out amongst the very many quality establishments in the Lake District with an air of decorous quirkiness …
I’d been invited to one of Beech Hill’s well-known Gourmet & Wine Tasting Nights – and what a fabulous evening it was. We were greeted with dainty canapes and champagne, then led to our table in the main restaurant where Paul Collins, a Sommellier from the hotel’s wine merchants, kept us entertained with tasting notes on each wine. The food was excellent and the drinks beautifully complemented the food. I was VERY glad I was staying overnight and could enjoy it all and not worry about driving home.
After breakfast the next morning I sat in one of the huge sofas as the Royal Windermere Yacht Club put on a great display of racing in front of the huge verandah. It was so relaxing I didn’t really want to move … but I’d arranged to meet Jonathan to have a look at the newest addition to the hotel; High Biggin Luxury Holiday Home. This used to be quirky Mrs Richardson’s home and it’s been beautifully renovated to the highest spec. The views are wonderful and again the unusual touches abound – Venetian masks hanging from mirrors, huge paintings and a little verandah for sunset cocktails … plus a piano just waiting for someone to release their inner Chopin.
Many thanks to the quirkilicious Beech Hill Hotel for a delightful weekend – I look forward to my next visit