February is always a month when a short break in the countryside seems particularly appealing. Yes, the weather can be unpredictable, but there's nothing quite like the welcome of a cosy country inn with good food and roaring log fires at this time of year. And of course you get to avoid the crowds that often flock to the more scenic parts of the UK during the warmer summer months.
It's been some years since I last stayed in the Lake District, so last week we packed our walking boots, some precautionary wet weather gear and the whippet into the back of the car and headed north to Cumbria.
The Eltermere Inn is located in the pretty village of Elterwater in the Langdale Valley, one of the most beautiful parts of the Lake District and a haven for walkers, as well as those in search of somewhere scenic to stay for a romantic short break. We arrived early and were blessed with fine weather, so there was plenty of time for an easy low level jaunt around the lake before checking in. The hotel is surrounded by some of the finest walking country in the Lake District and there are excellent clearly signposted, well drained routes all around Elterwater. For those who prefer something a little more challenging then the Langdale Pikes are quite literally right on your doorstep.
The Eltermere is an attractive and characterful old house with many interesting Georgian features. A plaque next to the front door indicates that the main house in its present form dates back to 1756, but parts of it appear to be even older. Large windows allow light in and there are several pretty window seats in the rooms at the front of the house from which you can quietly sit and enjoy the tranquility and uninterrupted views out over Elterwater.
The interiors are elegant and thoughtfully designed, evoking the feeling of a tasteful, well-appointed family home, and the colour palettes draw inspiration from the Lakeland landscape outside - warm coppery shades of bracken, country tweeds and sludgy neutrals. There are soft woollen carpets, comfortable fireside chairs, individually chosen artworks and sculptures and generous swathes of curtain.
Soon after checking in we found ourselves next to the cosy inglenook in the bar being welcomed with a pot of tea and a slice of homemade Victoria Sponge. Later on in the evening we returned to the same spot for dinner, lured back by the comforting crackle of the fire. The food at The Eltermere is excellent - hearty, tasty and exactly what we were craving after our walk earlier in the day. The beetroot and apple soup was warming and vibrant - the perfect comfort dish for a cold February evening - and the sausage and mash, always a favourite of mine, was equally enjoyable.
We were travelling with Albert, our dog, on this occasion, something we don't always do as it can obviously be quite restrictive, and so the Eltermere very kindly accommodated us in Stone Arthur - a room located in an old stone cottage adjacent to the main house. This was ideal as it had direct access to the outside, so we were able to easily pop in and out with the dog without disturbing the other guests (or worrying about leaving a trail of muddy paw prints throughout the hotel).
All of the rooms are individually designed and furnished with luxurious fabrics and carefully chosen pieces of furniture - I particularly loved the elegant oak dressing table in ours. Some have roll top baths and many have lake views.
The following morning, set up for the day with an excellent breakfast, we ventured further into the Langdale Pikes. Despite the ominous clouds the rain again held off and we were rewarded with stunningly moody views and magical slivers of light.
The Eltermere is a lovely place to stay in an idyllic and romantic location. In addition to the great food, welcoming fires, elegant interiors and stunning Lakeland views, guests can also enjoy a private jetty for fishing on the lake and the pool and spa facilities at The Langdale nearby. Sadly we didn't manage to fit in a spa session on this occasion, but we left already planning our next visit.
The Eltermere Inn, Elterwater, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9HY
Photography: Design Hunter
Design Hunter was a guest of The Eltermere.