This was a Travelzoo offer we took up, booking in March for the beginning of May. It was a 20th anniversary short break and we had no idea whether the place would live up to its descriptor and our hopes. [tip for those booking a travelzoo offer, print off the page from the net at the time because travelzoo take the pages down when the offer closes]. We stayed 2 nights and included were breakfast and 4 course evening meal both nights
I won't spend much time talking about the lake district because it is what it is. Suffice to say that Grasmere is a small village north of Kendall, it is beautifully located and Grasmere as a lake is charming. The village is unsurprisingly commercialised but for the most part, tastefully.
The Rathay Garden appears quite small from the outside, it isn't a high rise but it does spread itself out through gorgeous gardens which will plainly become better as the year goes on. There's plenty of parking and as the brochure says, park near the reception and drop off the bags first then move the car further back in the grounds. It is situated at the quieter end of the village almost on the way out.
The atmosphere of the place is of course down almost entirely to the staff and the staff at the Rathay that we had any contact with ranged from simply good, to Donna in the reception, a well-deserved excellent. She is a fount of knowledge and can even recite the number code for the wi-fi connection without referring to the paperwork. Before I forget, the connection is good with 4 routers spread throughout to give good coverage. There is also direct connection via rj45 cable in the rooms if you want it.
We were lucky in as much as the room we had was one of the 3 Riverside suites which as the name suggests open on to the river that runs by the hotel. They are quite large rooms, mainly because the river end has a sort of conservatory part with a couple of comfy chairs, table and access via French doors to a pebbled terrace.
The internal fittings are good and the bed is comfy, the usual vanity suite, a flat screen TV on the wall -which worked but had only ten minutes of use- a suite of wardrobes, chairs and another table. The bathroom is excellent, all ultra-modern mixer taps and flip levers, a good sized bath which my wife availed herself of and a large shower cubicle and powerful thermostatically controlled shower which is what I like. The toiletries are of high quality, evident high quality. Even the ubiquitous sowing kit was 'quality', as evidenced by having 4 or 5 different coloured threads but EACH with a needle already threaded. I particularly liked the olive oil based soap. Needless to say the whole place was immaculate.
As promised there waiting in the room for us was a bottle of Roederer Cristal champagne chilling in an ice bucket and alongside it a box of 6 exclusive chocolates in their own Rathay Garden box.
Having changed and been for a gentle stroll around the village we went through to the restaurant for our first 4 course a la carte meal. Met by the maître de and escorted to the table we used for the whole of our stay we had a splendid view of the whole garden. The service was as crisp as everything else in the place but as with all else. friendly not cold. I won't do a blow by blow for each and every course but you can tell this place has a master chef. The flavours, food and presentations were excellent, even the bread was a cut above the average. I particularly enjoyed the way they used the fresh herbs in both mains and desert. The only item which I thought was ordinary was the first pre-starter which was billed as a carrot and celeriac soup I think, but really had no evident celeriac flavour at all. Thankfully that was the one and only disappointment of any kind. We had Tournedos of beef, Canon of Lamb, venison, lobster, crayfish and a host of accompaniments, all served with a variety of lovely vegetables and fresh herbs in fantastic flavour combinations. The deserts were every bit as tasty and imaginatively prepared. The Eton mess was an absolute dream. The cheese board was made up of fine locally sourced cheese, I particularly enjoyed the Grandma Singleton’s and the Crofton.
The little things make the difference as to whether a place deserves its full set of stars and breakfast was where some were in evidence. Even something as ordinary as a grilled tomato was made special, they were so sweet showing high quality produce. The fresh fruit was quite apparently fresh and sliced each morning and the orange juice freshly squeezed.
Another facility we made use of was the spa. I normally don't bother with these but my wife bullied me into accompanying her and I have to say it was worth the visit. It would be fair to say that you wouldn't want too many people in there to make it crowded but we were alone so not a problem. There are two saunas which look as if there were room for about 6 in each, 4 infra-red beds, and two kinds of shower from 'cold mountain mist' to the 'warm summer rain' or something like that. Large shower head and side outlets too. The centrepiece was the hydro pool. I loved this. We went in having done a 5 mile yomp around Rydal Water and Grasmere lake that morning and the hydro pool was just what was required. With those pummel beds and a Jacuzzi portion as well as two different pummel jets it was really relaxing. We sat there and watched through the windows as a mother mallard and her 11 ducklings bimbled about the river; in the other direction the gardens were the view. [Tip. the hydro pool might not be the best place to go if you plan another walk later. I was so relaxed it took me half an hour of walking before I finally woke up]
Having had to query the odd bill at various places in the past I was pleased to see that the only extra that the Rathay added was the 50p for the mountain rescue service, which I was of course only too pleased to accept.
All in all my wife and I immensely enjoyed this 2 day break at this lovely hotel. Thoroughly recommended.
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- Also Known As:
- Rothay Garden Grasmere
- Hotel Rothay Garden
- Rothay Garden Hotel Grasmere, Lake District