“ Address: Ullswater / Penrith / Cumbria, CA11 0PB / United Kingdom „
Glenridding Hotel is situated in the village of Glenridding (not a huge amount of imagination there) close to Ullswater Lake in the northern part of the Lake District. I arrived via train, where I got off at Penrith and took a cab which took about 25-30 minutes and costs £30-35. There is parking here if you wish to drive, and the hotel is a good walking base for the area and Ullswater Steamers. The hotel's main claim to fame is that it is the place where Donald Campbell stayed during his world water speed record attempt on Ullswater. The decision to stay here was that of a friend of mine. She had stayed here a number of times in the past and on the occasion of a milestone birthday, a number of us were invited to join her. Even better was that she was paying for us on a B&B basis. I imagine she may have got some sort of group rate, but I noticed on their website that they offered half board for £55, but I think this is an off-peak offer as I believe our rooms were £130 a night for a twin room.
Check in was efficient, and informative. I was given a tad too much information about restaurant opening times and swimming pool locations for me to take in, in one go however. I had room 45, a twin that I was sharing, which was up a few small sets of stairs on a kind of mezzanine level.
The room was modestly sized, with the bathroom on the left as you went in. The loo was behind the door and there was a shower over the bath. One set of towels were in the bathroom, the others in the wardrobe. There were complimentary soaps, shower gel, shampoo and body lotion. Hot water took about 30 seconds to come through if you were first in, in the morning.
Next to the bathroom wad a built in wardrobe with plenty of space and then the room opened up. The two twin beds were next to each other, with a small cabinet with tea and coffee making facilities on the left and a desk with mirror and hairdryer to the right. Opposite was an armchair and a flat screen TV.
TV signal was good but I think it was just the main channels, but we didn't watch much. The room was very warm even though the heating was off, and we needed the window open at night, even though the outside temperature wasn't particularly warm. The room overlooked the street, but it isn't a busy or noisy road as Glenridding is just a small village. However the pub was beneath us, and it did get a bit lively come midnight Saturday.
Breakfast was served in the main restaurant by reception. Here you are seated by the staff and can help yourself to the buffet which included fruit salads, yoghurt, juice, cereal and croissants. Fresh coffee or tea can be brought over, as will toast. There are various cooked options including kippers, smoked salmon and three fry ups: The veggie platter with egg (fried unless specified), fried bread, hash brown, mushrooms, baked beans and tomato. I had this every morning and thought it modestly sized and not as filling as some I have had. There is also the basic Lakeland fry up, and the Helvellyn Challenge which was the Lakeland with beans, fried bread and black pudding. I don't think anyone who had it found it a challenge to finish!
We didn't eat in dinner in the main restaurant. We considered it for our friend's birthday meal, but were made to feel that it might not be for us, as the manager said we may find the a la carte too formal (we were there to walk, of course we were casually dressed, but we were hardly going to turn up in muddy jeans and T-shirts for dinner) and if we wanted to be "boisterous" we may prefer to book the Ratchers Restaurant downstairs. We decided to go downstairs, so we didn't have to worry if one of us laughed too loud or sang happy birthday above a whisper (a party of 14 will never be quiet).
The Ratchers bar and separate restaurant is very much a walkers pub. The menu is the same in the pub, as the restaurant. It is very informal and usually full of walkers, rucksacks and wet dogs. A round of three drinks (two spirits and mixers, and a half a lager) was £8.70 which is reasonable as there is only one other pub in the village. They do a good range of meals, with main courses from about £10. They also have an extensive pizza menu. You can have waitress service in the restaurant, or just go up to the bar to order in the bar area. Unfortunately it wasn't particularly smooth service when we dined there 'properly' but overall we had a nice time and the food was nice.
The hotel also has a library/sun room which overlooks the back of the hotel and the lake. This has a pool table and a selection of books guests can borrow. There is also more information on Donald Campbell and his water-speed record here, if you are interested. There is a pool for residents too, with a small 'bubble' corner and a wooden sauna. Changing rooms are available in the pool part, where there is also a small lounge area, as well as showers and towels. The pool isn't big, and there was never anyone else around when my friend and I went down. It was pleasant enough to swim a few lengths in-between bobbing about and chatting.
Overall, we all really enjoyed our stay here as the hotel in nice, well-maintained and clean, with great facilities. We did feel a little disappointed with how we were shunted into the more casual restaurant from the a la carte restaurant, as if we weren't good enough to dine there, which did upset our host. If I was going to return to the Lakes, I would probably explore a different area, but if I came to this part, I would definitely consider coming here if I could get a good price, but more than likely would choose a smaller, bed and breakfast affair.