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“Louvly”
Review of Hillthwaite Hotel

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Hillthwaite Hotel
Ranked #10 of 20 Hotels in Windermere
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 28 October 2011

There's a "Rate us on Tripadvisor" sign prominently displayed on the reception desk at the Hillthwaite. You have to give them credit for recognising the importance of Tripadvisor while also setting themselves up as easy prey for the self-styled "Hotel Inspector" type of guest. We are a family of 4 with two boys aged 6 and 8 and stayed for 5 nights over the half term break. The trip was booked as we hadn't been to the Lake District before and also to spend some quality time together as a family as we had been working very hard recently. Neither the Lake District or the Hillthwaite let us down, we had a truly fantastic time. The scenery is just jaw-droppingly spectacular, especially with the Autumn colours and armed with our "short walks in the Lake District" book we made the most of it. We booked a hotel rather than a holiday let or self-catering because we wanted to be looked after - have someone else do the washing up and making the beds etc. for a change.

From arrival onwards we were very well looked after at the Hillthwaite. The Hotel is in a great position, perched on a hill overlooking the nearby streets and houses down to Lake Windermere in the distance. Anyone walking to the Hotel needs to appreciate it is on a hill and a reasonably steep climb from the road. Anyone booking a "Lake View" room gets a superb vista of the lake and hills but remember that this is a hotel set way back from the lake, not on the shore. I would call the rooms "Panoramic View" rather than Lake View as the lake is some distance away. But to moan about the view is just churlish, it's lovely, or should I say Louvly but more on that later!

The Hotel is perfectly clean and comfortable. The Lounge and reception/bar area are nice spaces to relax in and read a book or chat politely to fellow guests. The decor is best described as "safe" - not bland but not stylish either but then style is very personal isn't it, you can't please everyone all the time. To call it "dated" is too harsh. It's the sort of decor my Mother would like. And that probably best sums up the key issue at the Hillthwaite - who is it set up to cater for? I would suggest retired couples. There were plenty of these type of guests while we were there. Lots of copies of "The Daily Mail" on display and lots of discussions about Strictly Come Dancing! So as a reasonably boisterous family we did feel a bit out of place and had to make an extra effort to ensure the kids kept it down. On two separate occasions we were complimented on how well the boys behaved at dinner so we must have been doing something right. All this adds up to the fact that the Hotel isn't particularly child-friendly but then that's probably music to the ears of those that want a nice break away from noisy families. I think the Hotel needs to be bold enough to suggest that young families are not its target market but in these difficult economic times its difficult to turn away any type of customer. To be fair to the Hillthwaite, all the staff went out of their way to ensure the whole family was well looked after so I wouldn't want to accuse them of being actively child unfriendly. That is definitely not the case, it is more that the main demographic of the guests seems to be retired couples looking for peace and quiet!

This brings me on to the dining experience. Again the comfortable but formal restaurant is very quiet. The decorum was shattered on the first night by one of my kids who announced in too-loud a voice that he "needed to go for a poo". The food is superb and there is a new menu every day. It's perfectly reasonable to ask people to choose their selections in advance , it just adds to the anticipation of the meal. The hotel offers for kids to eat earlier in the day (the formal dining starts at 7pm) but what are we supposed to do with them if they do eat earlier? Let them loose on the poor souls talking about Strictly in the Lounge while we tuck into our 5 course meal? A more workable alternative is needed - perhaps have families in to dine an hour earlier? The Restaurant Manager Marco and his team work very hard. Marco has the strangest accent - part Italian and part Cumbrian hence the spelling in my title. He finishes his sentences with "Louvly" in a broad northern accent which we thought was funny. You can't fault the whole team for being very attentive but I think they do need to work on their communication. Each member of the team clearly has specific roles and if you ask the waiter for a drink there's a look of panic. I should be asking the Pawel, the Food and Beverage Manager! Likewise if I asked Pawel for tomato ketchup then I got the distinct feeling that was beneath him and I should have asked a waiter. On occasion this led to delays or the communication going astray and the requested item turning up late or not at all. But these are minor issues. The food was excellent and we were well looked after. In fact the only major criticism I have of the restaurant is the odd collection of car-boot-sale pottery they have on the plate rail around the wall. Why? It's not even just one collection. Just an assortment of different pots and plates. Bizarre. Get them off the wall and the restaurant is a nice understated pleasant space with the best tables (those paying for the best rooms?) getting the bay windows and the great view.

Our kids loved the swimming pool which is a great facility and the sauna and steam room are very welcome after a long day walking. All in all I would say that the Hillthwaite is a superb well run hotel with just a few very minor niggles. If you are a couple looking for a nice relaxed and quiet break in Windermere then I think you would struggle to do better. I'm going to book my Mother in for a treat for her, she'd love it. And I promise not to bring the kids.....

Room Tip: Note that the rooms with a Lake View are more a "Panoramic View" with the houses and stree...
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  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled with family
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Thank Kevin B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SOUTHLAKER, Manager at Hillthwaite Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 29 October 2011

I would like to thank this member for their comprehensive and constructive review. I have been criticized by my staff for not responding to complimentary reviews but this is not because of being ungrateful or being complacent about them it is just the 'old chestnut ' of time management! However, on this occasion I felt a response was called for because this member has encapsulated perfectly for us just what Trip Advisor should be about, not only mentioning the good points about a hotel but also providing constructive criticisms where it is called for, and this is just what this member has done and how helpful and supportive this has been to us all at the Hillthwaite. As a team we will work on where we didn't come up to the mark but do our best to continue to maintain and even exceed the things we know we do well.

My thanks again to this member on behalf of the Owners, Staff and management, because after a couple of indifferent reviews you begin to doubt yourself but this latest review has gone along way in restoring our self belief again.

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1,280 - 1,286 of 1,492 reviews

Reviewed 23 October 2011

We have just arrived home from our second visit to this hotel. On arrival we were greeted by a lovely lady (Paula I think) who gave us a warm welcome and showed us to or room, which we felt was a little dated (also a dud bulb that had not been replaced) but was clean, tidy, and had all the facilities we expected. The 4 course evening meal was lovely and the staff were very attentive. We folowed this with a couple of drinks in the very comfy lounge (but this also had at least half a dozen dud bulbs that had not been replaced) then off to a good nights sleep in a very comfortable bed.
Breakfast on Saturday was all we expected, with a full range of cerials and fruit. We pigged out on the full English Cumberland breakfast which was delicious.
After a few hours out walking, we arrived back at the hotel mid afternoon and, as per protocol; we booked our evening meal time, along with our choices from the menu.
2 minutes later we were in our room freshening up when the phone rang and we were asked why we had not ordered dinner? After explaining that I had just done this I was then required to go through the whole process again. At this point we felt that something was amiss, which was then evident when dinnertime arrived.
Three courses in twenty minutes with hardly a breath between each, then the dirty plates were left in front of us for half an hour before being removed. The sweets menu was then presented, but after making our choices, too long had passed without us being asked for our order that we decided not to bother and so left.This was clearly a staffing problem, which should not have impacted on the customer, BUT IT DID.
All in all the staff were lovely, very personable, and accommodating, but our one encounter with- what we think was the landlord (a tall grey haired gentleman with spectacles) left us feeling that we had disturbed him from something more important.
This is a good hotel with great staff and is only 1 inch from being a great hotel, I do hope the owners will listen and respond to positive criticisms.

Room Tip: We have only stayed twice and have had good lake views on each occasion so we have nothing else to c...
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  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank mickhall56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SOUTHLAKER, Manager at Hillthwaite Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 24 October 2011

I would like to thank this member for their very constructive comments. We all do our best to achieve 100% efficiency but unfortunately from time to time we do not quite manage it. Your comments regarding food ordering and service have been passed on to the appropriate department and the question of light bulbs is a constant thorn in the side of most hoteliers, it is bit like 'painting the Forth Bridge' however, we will do our very best to be more diligent with our light bulb replacement schedule.

As General Manager, I have to be man enough to stand up and be identified as 'the grey haired man with glasses' I do apologise if I gave the impression of not being attentive to this member's requirements but I can assure them that, that isn't my normal style, as I am sure other and returning guests will confirm and I regret most sincerely that I gave the wrong impression on this occasion.

As far as staffing levels are concerned, yes and unfortunately we have all been under pressure recently due to staff holidays and a couple of key members leaving us for pastures new but we continue to make every effort to ensure that staff shortages do not impact on the guest experience, so I regret that unfortunately this would appear not to have been the case for this member. Regretably in these times of economic pressure it is not possible to employ the spare staff capacity we may have enjoyed at one time but I can assure all past and future guests that we will all redouble our efforts to ensure that we achieve the oustanding levels of service we are rightly proud of and I trust this member will give us the opportunity on some furture occasion to put right what they felt was wrong.

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Reviewed 19 October 2011

We stayed for 5 nights from 3rd Oct 2011, which was a special treat to celebrate my husband's 60th birthday. We booked a classic lake view room with jacuzzi.

From the moment we arrived we encountered badly maintained communal areas and bedrooms, well out-dated fixtures and fittings in the bedrooms (from wall paper, curtains, carpets to furniture itself), a swimming pool that was difficult to swim in because half of the base was only about 1m depth and the other half of the base was about 2.5m depth. So like swimming off a cliff (not shown or mentioned in their glossy webpage). All topped off with staff who did not understand how guests should be treated. There didn't appear to be any real day-to-day management or supervision. We had 3 different rooms during our 5 night stay. The lake view from the rooms is a distant one, over the tops of the local houses and trees.

Two out of the 3 were very poor value for money.

The only really good thing about our stay was the food. Obviously they have employed a good chef and chosen the menu carefully. Quality and presentation of food was good.

Removing the food element, the rest was poor value for money.

We felt so strongly about the state of things at the hotel, that we wrote a very detailed letter to the owners to explain our disappointment. They replied without even acknowledging the main points of our letter and their attitude was 'How dare you'. So a poorly run hotel with owners who are blinkered. What else do I need to say?

  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Snoopysparty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SOUTHLAKER, Manager at Hillthwaite Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 20 October 2011

I was fully anticipating a Trip Advisor posting from this member, and they havn't let me down-maybe because we havn't offered a refund!! I dont usually reply as quickly to a review as this, because I usually give time to give a considered reply, however, in this case an immediate reply is called for. I must first of all point out that the owners replied in detail and personallly to this member. All I am going to do is to reiterate one or two of the salient points from the owner's reply. The first being that in all their fourty years ownership of the Hillthwaite they have never before been subjected to such a lengthy, sustained and unwarranted demolition of everything they have sought to achieve during that time. Second they felt that no matter whatever their management or staff tried to do to make this member's stay enjoyable and value for money one was in their eyes totally inadequate. Finally the owners made the point that it is a sad fact of life that some guests are totally incompatible with the hotel they are staying in, unfortunately in this member's case this is all too true with themselvesand the Hillthwaite, reference to the many glowing reviews about the Hillthwaite showing on Trip Advisor confirms this fact.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 October 2011

Recently stayed for 2 nights and thoroughly enjoyed our stay, staff very friendly throughout the stay, food excellent but not to happy paying an extra £7.50 supplement if you wanted steak, which was only a very average size, every other meal on the menu was included in the price so why not the steak ?

All in all though we did enjoy our stay, many thanks.

  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank James M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 October 2011

This is a simple lovely place to stay with friendly, helpful people and the food was artfully presented and extremely tasty--a first class dinner. The menu changes everyday so there is something new to taste each night. The room was small but we thought of it as cozy. The bed was dreamy comfortable and there were plenty of public game and sitting rooms that made up for the small bedroom.

Room Tip: there are rooms of different sizes.. 24 is a smaller room. There is no fitness center but a small p...
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  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank Margaret R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 September 2011

We stayed at Hillthwaite for our Honeymoon. We stayed for 5 nights & we would have happily stayed longer. We stayed in Exec room 15 with balcony, unfortunately the weather wasn't brilliant so only got to use balcony once. But it was so nice to wake to views of the lake & the mountains. The bed was so comfortable that we slept so well.

The staff were so friendly & made you feel like you were old friends. The restaurant staff were absolutely superb & it was such a shock to come home & not have breakfast & dinner served by them, they were always so cheerful & polite. Marco heads up a fab team.

The food was superb, it was lovely to be treated to such luxury for the week. We can honestly say the food was so tasty & filling & the puddings were divine.

We used the swimming pool & sauna a few times & it was a nice way to unwind & then we would sit in the lounge & read with a cream tea! Perfect way to unwind after a morning sightseeing. We would then go to our room & get ready for a lovely dinner.

We wanted a relaxed honeymoon & we certainly got it.

Thank you to everyone at Hillthwaite. We can't wait to visit again. I would highly recommend to anyone visiting the lakes.

  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank Louise_Matt_B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 September 2011

We have stayed a number of times at the Hilthwaite House Hotel, and each time it has been super. The quality of food is outstanding with a menu to suit. The rooms we have used have been excellent. The hotels location in Windermere is perfect. Windermere itself can get a bit busy, but it is central enough to get out and about the Lake District. All in all its not to be missed if you are thinking of visiting the lakes.

  • Stayed: October 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank Tensixty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hillthwaite Hotel

Address: Thornbarrow Road, Windermere LA23 2DF, England
Phone Number:
Region: United Kingdom > England > Cumbria > Lake District > Windermere
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#9 Romantic Hotel in Windermere
#10 Family Hotel in Windermere
Price Range: £134 - £254 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Hillthwaite Hotel 3*
Number of rooms: 34
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
You will find Hillthwaite House Hotel is the most ideal accommodation for all types of breaks including short breaks or for use as a base for your walking holiday in the Lake District National Park. Impeccable service and comfort, lovely food sourced from local produce, friendly, attentive staff and the many guests that return to us time after time speak for itself. For Lake District Hotels please look no further than Hillthwaite House Hotel. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hillthwaite Hotel Windermere, Lake District
Hillthwaite House Hotel

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