Askham near Ullswater. Askham Hall

Named Country House Hotel of the Year in the Good Hotel Guide 2022, this ‘lovely building in a wonderful setting’ also has a Michelin star and four AA rosettes for its restaurant called Allium.

It was also Small Hotel of the Year and Wedding Venue of the Year at the Cumbria Tourism Awards 2022. ‘If you fancy living like a lord,’ said the Good Food Guide a couple of years ago, Askham Hall ‘may just fit the bill’. But as the Good Hotel Guide points out, the Grade I listed property is relaxed and unpretentious, not grand and formal at all.
 
For many years this was the home of the Lowther family after they vacated nearby Lowther Castle in the 1930s. Then in 2013 the building - dating back to medieval times -  was converted from home to hotel and now offers 19 large and individually styled bedrooms, some of them interconnecting.

‘The architecture does all the talking here,’ says Charles Lowther and in the 14th century pele tower, the vaulted ceiling of the Stone Room, the huge fireplace in the Front Hall and the wood panelling in the private dining room there are four obvious examples. 

But for all the history that's embedded in the walls of the pele tower - its six rooms include the Admiral’s Room which was the Duke of Edinburgh’s guest room during his numerous visits - there's a refreshing breeze of informality about the place, exemplified by the vibrant paintings on the walls and the family heirlooms dotted around the building.

An outdoor pool, billiard room and Grade II listed gardens all add to the attraction while guests can also make use of the nearby Health Barn which offers a range of therapeutic and relaxation treatments and workshops.

After dinner you can check out the books in the vaulted Stone Room (the selection includes Gorbachev's memoirs and a great tome on Lowther castle), pour a drink from the honesty bar, kick off your shoes and make yourself at home in front of the huge stone fireplace. 

The Lowthers have been a famous family in Cumbria for over 800 years: soldiers, politicians, industrialists, foresters, landowners and patrons of the arts and sport. Thanks to Charles Lowther, youngest son of the 7th Earl of Lonsdale, and his family, they’re now also very good hoteliers and restaurateurs.

In early 2022 The Times picked Askham Hall as one of 20 ‘best pubs and restaurants for a Michelin-starred mini-break’, its restaurant Allium, said the newspaper, now ‘firmly on the gastronomic map’.

Askham Hall, Askham, Penrith CA10 2PF: 01931 712350, www.askhamhall.co.uk  The hotel is part of the Askham Collection which also includes the Queen’s Head at Askham and the nearby George and Dragon at Clifton, south of Penrith. 

Askham Hall hosts weddings as well. The hotel was Editor’s Choice for weddings in the Good Hotel Guide 2020. A different short film about life and work at Askham Hall is shown every month on the hotel’s Instagram site.

 

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