...What with all this pampering and cosseting and the helicopter landing pad, too, this is one of the most civilised places you could stay in England. Cheap it is not, but we still rate it as above average value for money.
Value for Money 11
Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel, Lake Ullswater, Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 2LZ
Phone: 01768 486301 Fax: 01768 486349
Open: February to early December.
Rooms: 27 all en suite.
Prices: Dinner, Bed and Breakfast: £160 to £225 per person, depending on the room. See the website for full details and special breaks.
Credit cards: all major cards.
This is an institution that has been going for 57 years.
Perhaps the most notable recent change is that the food is far less rich than it used to be - much less use of cream than in the old days (when even the welcoming glass of sherry was cream sherry! - it's amontillado now), but the portions are still pretty Gargantuan and what with the staff urging you to have a little more of each dish, it's not for the faint stomached. Luckily, there are plenty of lovely walks around the hotel to work off the excess fat and as there is not much traffic on the road, you can even run!
The food is substantial, designed to be eaten rather than looked at. Beef, lamb, game and fish feature all the time. A tournedos was correctly cooked to order, although fish has sometimes finished slightly more cooked than necessary, but on the last occasion we were there our pan-fried turbot with a Chardonnay beurre blanc was perfect. There is always a good choice of local cheeses and the desserts are a tour de force made with a deft and light hand.
The wine list is one of the best in the country with wines to suit all pockets, covering all regions, but also with some of the best wines you can find on earth. The prices are not over the top either and the choice is fabulous.