I have just got back from the most splendid, relaxing Winter weekend away in Bowness-on-Windermere. Mummy and I enjoyed a much deserved weekend away by The Lakes, staying in the wonderful Macdonald Old England Hotel and Spa, Windermere.
I’d driven through Windermere before in the past, but not stopped, so didn’t realise that we were just moments away from the most stunning quintessentially English little town on the lake – Bowness. We wanted somewhere with a stunning view of the lake, but also within walking distance to some shops and restaurants. This is exactly what we got with Bowness.
The hotel was an impressive old building, with its own moorings and aspect over the lake. It had a suitably grand entrance-way, dining room and bar for afternoon tea over-looking the stunning views. We happily sat in the lounge bar, by the window, for hours watching the boats come and go – absolute bliss. We had a double twin executive room, which was extremely spacious and comfortable with a seating area and large bathroom (with bath and double-shower). Unfortunately it didn’t have the dream view over the lakes, that we would have liked, but hey, you can’t have everything! (and we hardly spent any time in the room really).
The hotel has its own spa facilities, free for guests to use. It was lovely to have an early evening swim in their pool overlooking the lake, which wasn’t too busy. However, I would say the pool is crying-out for a jacuzzi (which would have been the perfect addition to our relaxing experience) and the pool area could have been a few degrees warmer to lounge around in. They do have a sauna, steam room, ice room and experience shower though, which is pretty cool. You can also opt to have a spa treatment – we wanted a facial and massage, but unfortunately there wasn’t anyone in on the day we chose (typical!) so I’m not able to review that option.
What we did
Luckily, on the Saturday, the weather was on our side. It was very cold, crisp and sunny (no sign of rain or snow). So after a large breakfast at the hotel, we made our way straight to the pier at Bowness. At this time of year, the boats across Lake Windermere, are scheduled every hour from about 9am – 4pm. But as we found out, on the weekends or if particularly busy, they throw on a few more, so they were running regularly and we didn’t have to wait around at all.
We opted for a trip from Bowness to Ambleside, getting off for a stroll around the shops and an incredibly large mint hot chocolate, before heading back a couple of hours later. It’s approx 35 minutes each way and although cold, we managed to sit on top desk and watch the calm waters and stunning lake houses pass us by.
I have to mention a gorgeous little cafe right by the pier in Ambleside. I was too excited by their lovely veranda with fairylights, cushions and blankets, to notice what it was called. But you can’t miss it and well worth popping-in for a tea and cake by the lake.
On the Sunday, we jumped a bus (the 599 for anyone interested) which cost us £2 each way, into Windermere. It’s about 1.5 miles down the road, so on a nice day, it would make a nice (uphill) walk. But as it was threatening to hail and snow, we thought the bus was a more pleasant option. As it was Sunday, the town was very sleepy and mostly shut. So we enjoyed a cup of tea and a brief stroll before heading back to Bowness for a light lunch, then back to the hotel for another swim.
What we ate
There certainly wasn’t a shortage of places to eat in Bowness-on-Windermere! A fab mix of local pubs, British food, steak houses, Italian cafes, tapas and Chinese restaurants. It really does seem to cater for every taste and every budget. We munched our way through the weekend, but one of the highlights was a gorgeous little Italian restaurant, tucked-away, behind the shops in Bowness – Villa Positano. Blink and you’ll miss it!
The place is authentic, tiny and warm. We were greeted with Italian welcomes and an impressive menu and specials board. A welcome relief from the cold evening. I started with Bruschetta and enjoyed a main of Penne with wild mushrooms and courgette. Mmmm….
So Monday morning, we had a last lie-in, watching the news on telly in bed. Strolled down for breakfast, then waved our goodbyes to our new favourite town on The Lakes. We can’t wait to go back in the Spring and I would recommend a visit to Bowness-on-Windermere without a doubt!
Where else in The Lakes should we visit?