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Forest Side Hotel


here’s so much to love and admire at the new Forest Side hotel in the Lake District that it’s difficult to know where to start. Perhaps the most obvious is the

hotel’s location. An acorn’s throw from the picturesque village of Grasmere, yet distant enough to be secluded, tucked away on the forest slope within its privately owned 40 acres of woodland, overlooking the charming Rydal water and the dramatic mountains beyond. Tis former hunting lodge was already trading as a hotel when purchased by local hotelier Andrew Wildsmith. Seeing its potential, Wildsmith shut its doors to embark on an 18 month refurbishment programme, a full and sympathetic restoration giving full consideration to its surroundings and to the environmental responsibilities that today’s hospitality operators should adhere to. It reopened in February this year and whilst there has been no fanfare, the hotel is slowly gaining the recognition that it richly deserves with plaudits from the likes of Fiona Duncan, the Sunday Telegraph’s hotel critic, scoring 9/10 for the food in this ‘stellar hotel’ and awards from Cumbria Life, ‘Best Newcomer’ and ‘Restaurant of the Year’, and from Tatler magazine, awarding it ‘Best-kept Secret’ in the Tatler Restaurant Awards. It is a small hotel with just 20 bedrooms,

although the rooms are spacious and individual with superb walk-in showers (10/10 for their simplicity of use), large baths and the most comfortable beds. Te mattresses are bespoke and made from the wool of local Herdwick

26 GS Magazine

sheep. Herdwick wool is used a lot in this property, it soundproofs and insulates the walls and is the dominant material in all of the hotel’s beautifully designed carpets. It even features in some of the staff uniforms who dress ‘country casual’ in attractive tweed waistcoats, jeans and fitted white shirts. Te case goods and furniture in the bedrooms have been well chosen. Most pieces, supplied by Gloucester based Scumble Goosie, are in French Colonial style and have been ‘aged’ to give an impression that they have been a part of the house for a long time. Each room has character but the upper floor rooms also benefit from the most commanding views. An accessibility room has been designed with great

attention and empathy. Tis ground floor room has a number of subtle differences to the other bedrooms; wider door frames, larger shower and loo facilities and so on but it is every bit as charming and comfortable. Tere is a smaller, interconnecting room; ideal for a carer or as a separate children’s room for families who are staying. Te public areas are warm and beautifully

decorated. In the central hall and stairs a deeply embossed and patterned Lincrusta wallpaper has been applied and painted (unfortunately, not pictured - see Tis expensive and grand textured wall covering has an interesting history. It was invented by Frederick Walton, the man who earlier

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