“ Address: Bampton by Penrith / Cumbria / CA10 2RP / Telephone: 01931 713 235 „
Before we start, there were definitely no hawes. Thought it best to get the lame gag out of the way at the start as my wife informed me repeatedly that it wasn't funny and that I should just grow up. It's not easy having been to single-sex Grammar school, a concept sadly wasted on her. I grew up thinking you could only view girls through wire-mesh surrounding a tennis court so I get my titillation where I can.
That out the way, I'll go on to the meat of the matter which is this rather odd hotel. I can't make my mind up really. That's really useful in a review isn't it?
The hotel was booked as it was my wife's birthday and they were selling the rooms of on eBay for £100 per room for b&b and a 2 course dinner. So, we went for the one night.
The hotel is literally on the banks of Haweswater, the highest lake in the Lake District at 200-odd metres. Ok so where's the lake? Well it's in the North Lakes, about 10 miles from Penrith. If you're on the M6, take the turn-off for Shap and it's about 6 miles of winding road later. If you're not on the M6 I can only suggest you're lost. Shap, if it doesn't ring alarm-bells, should. It's quite a godforsaken place where it always rains. If anyone from shap writes to me complaining, then it is because the rain has addled your brain and depression has led to erratic complaining about well known fact. I did a lot of geology around Shap because of its famous granite - it's the very pink one people have for worktops - and ALWAYS spent the time huddled in a corner trying to light a fag in a force 10 gale. The journey from Shap to the hotel takes you down a lot of windy roads where a tom-tom is necessary, though I'm only saying that because I had one. It's well sign-posted really.
I'm only being specific here as a word of warning. Magically - it was snowing when we got there and had during the previous night. The roads approaching the hotel had not been gritted and are ONLY used for hotel traffic and for dog-walkers. Possibly used by people dogging as well though I can't verify that. As a result, the road was close to impassable in our Zafira. This may be because they are crap and a 4x4 would have laughed in my face. i just mention it to illustrate that this hotel is in a remote location so watch out for the weather.
It's a lovely building. It sits right on the side of the lake, perched above some low cliffs. I'd guess it was build in the 20's but I might be well out and has a lot of original features such as stained-glass windows above the ladies and gents. Virginia creeper sticks to the outer walls and it has beautiful french windows that open to the front that match a lot of the indoor glass work. As you go into the foyer, through the double front doors you are presented with a bar to the left and the lounge and dining room to the right. Straight ahead there is a winding wooden staircase of impressive width. In the lounge and bar were roaring fires and the hotel was well heated with lovely old cast iron radiators. Very welcoming. The decor was definitely a bit too dated for my taste with a selection of non-descript wallpaper with far too descript borders. The paintwork was a mixture of neutral and bold which didn't work for me. All in all though, it was in fairly good nick. These old hotels must cost a fortune to run and sometimes they have the slight appearance of non-willful neglect and I suppose this was no exception.
To the front there was a patio with tables and chairs, which, sitting in front of the patio windows, must be a lovely place to spend a summer evening looking out over the lake.
Checking in and the staff in general
The girl/lady who greeted us was very pleasant and booked us in efficiently. I'm glad she was so pleasant as she also served dinner and breakfast and worked the bar. Perhaps she had many identical sisters but I doubt it. She was practically the only staff member we saw and the hotel was non the worse for it to be honest.
There was an old gentleman who seemed to be in charge of the rather fat hotel cat (called Harvey), a slightly younger lady who I once saw carry a napkin, a man in his forties who sat at a computer and a chef whom I glimpsed through the kitchen door. Sounds a bit thin on the ground? Well, maybe. I don't remember ever having to want for anything though so I've no complaints. Everyone was very friendly.
Was big and looked over the lake. Gorgeous. Old-fashioned - yes. But clean and big with a good-sized comfortable bed.
HOWEVER - THERE WAS NO TELLY. NOT ONE. ANYWHERE.
WHAT AM I MEANT TO DO NOW? Was my first thought when the terrible truth dawned on me.
Being a bloke I knew what to do, though the wife took some persuading and bribery. Thank God for cream eggs. Remember- there really are no Hawes. 2 minutes and 33 seconds later I thought WHAT AM I MEANT TO DO NOW? I don't even watch telly! I just needed some noise. I have 3 kids and I can always hear noise. There was a rubbishy little bedside radio with no reception. It was hell! I had to read a newspaper BUT I forgot to get one and I had to drive the 6 miles or so back to Shap through the little windy roads to get one just so I didn't go mad. Sad aren't I?
The en-suite had a shower and basin but no bath - not that that bothered me. The shower was Ok but took time to get warmed up. Much like the missus. Arf Arf. God I'm crap.
Two courses were included. That would have cost £20 otherwise with desserts being an extra £4 a go. Not bad prices given that the food was really good. The menu was limited with 3 starters, 3 mains and 3 puddings but they were decent. I had chicken liver, bacon and mushrooms on seasonal leaves. I was a bit worried about the leaves as I'd noticed some daffodils poking through the lawn in the gardens but luckily it meant seasonal for Northern Italy so I got lettuce stuff. For a main I got slow-roasted belly pork with pork and apricot stuffing on apple mash with a mustard gravy which was exceptionally nice I thought. We both had the crème brulee for pudding which was gorgeous. A really good meal.
BUT. Remember the lady at reception who does everything. Well she serves quick!! Real quick! There were only 6 couples staying there (no kids to be seen by the way - I think they are banned! They watch telly so are considered to be an evil influence over silence) and we were in and out of that dining room within 45 minutes. No time to stop between meals -no siree. Eat and piss off - that's the motto here. It really annoyed me. Why? Because as soon as you're done, you are cast into telly-free hell. What are you meant to do now? Play scrabble. That's what. In front of a fire, which was nice, but playing scrabble non-the-less. In my ideal, I would do rumpy-pumpy, have a nice meal, play scrabble, enjoy conversation over a drink in front of a roaring fire AND THEN WATCH MATCH OF THE DAY!!!!!!!! Why take the end bit away from me!!!!!!
Not the best I've had but the usual fare of bacon, egg, mushroom etc etc etc. Guess who served it! And they need to sort out their coffee. Coffee should be dark and at the very least should actually contain coffee. The overriding taste should be coffee-ish. You can't get coffee out of a caffetiere. They are just devises used to fool gullible French people into thinking they're Italian and have no place in the modern world. A small moan - but I like coffee flavoured coffee.
Some of this sounds like moaning and there were a few things over which I would personally express dislike. Did I mention the television situation? BUT there are many, many people who will love this place. It is blissfully quiet, with reasonable accommodation, good food and very pleasant service. In the summer, with its excellent position on the lake, I should imagine it would be idyllic. It is, I think, well geared to middle-aged walkers and couples who want to get out of the suburbs for a bit of peace and quiet and, if that's the case, you will be well served. For myself, I need a television. I just can't occupy myself that well.
The total for accommodation, 3 course meal and a few drinks was £116, which I think was reasonable value - I was a bit irked that they reduced the tariff for our room by £20 a few hours after I booked and paid by Paypal on eBay. Grrrr! It's now £79 per room per night right up to 13th February.
More info at the website: http://www.haweswaterhotel.com/
Thanks for reading. May also be on Ciao at a later date!
The hotel is the only building in the valley, built in 1937, and is a popular destination for those looking for a reprieve from it all. Enjoy the stunning scenery and catch a glimpse of mother nature's paradise of wild animals.