Sharrow Bay Hotel

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Address: Lake Ullswater, Penrith, CA10 2LZ, England

Star rating:
5 star hotel

4.6

The original country-house escape in the Lakes is still going strong.

Sharrow Bay is a Lakes landmark and remains one of the best-known names in the North. It started as a family business and was a exceptionally tight-run ship, although inevitable changes have crept in since it was acquired by the von Essen group of hotels.

It knows its market well and still commands a loyal following amongst a mature, well-heeled, food-loving clientele.

But, for me, it's a little too traditional, too reliant on its past and crying out for a touch of tasteful refurbishment in the bedrooms.

Location
4.6
90%
Eating/drinking
4.6
90%
Leisure facilities
n/a
90%
Service
4.8
90%
Value for money
4.5
90%
Bedrooms
4.2
90%
Public areas
4.4
90%

Location

An idyllic setting on the eastern shore of Ullswater with superb lake views. It's beautifully tranquil yet just about 20 minutes by car to Penrith and M6 connections.

Bedrooms

Rooms are the bugbear with critical-minded guests. The 24 rooms are split between the main house, off-site Bank House (chauffeur service for dinner), The Garden Rooms and the Edwardian Lodge, the latter two both set in the hotel grounds away from the main house.

I've stayed in the main hotel. The room had lake views and some nice touches, such as sherry upon arrival and Culpeper toiletries. But the decor is outdated, the floral theme very old fashioned and the rather unsightly chip in the shocking-blue bathroom suite just shoddy.

Public areas

The two key areas are both popular for pre-dinner aperitifs or post-prandial digestifs.

The Conservatory is light and spacious with a trolley of aged brandies and armagnac, but I preferred the Lounge with its brooding lake views, mood lighting and a more cosy ambience.

Eating and drinking

Dining is the hotel's raison d'etre. The £75 dinner menu covers six courses and reflects the confidence of the kitchen. My shoulder of herdwick lamb was tender and succulent, while the Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding a house speciality (ready-made puds available to buy as a souvenir). The wine list is extensive, although I would have liked to see more local cheese on the cheese board.

Breakfast is an equally grand affair, served in the Lakeside Dining Room for Ullswater views with your morning coffee. The Cumbria breakfast is tasty and imaginative with the saltiness of local bacon contrasted with the sweetness of baked apple slices.

Leisure facilities

There's a private jetty for boat trips and transfers - ask the concierge.

Service

The fact that Sharrow Bay has been Michelin starred for 15 years attests to the high standards of service with black-suited waiters attending professionally to the smooth running of the restaurant.

Who stays there

An older clientele. The dining room is the domain of retired captains of industry and management consultants blowing a bonus.

Price advice

Check the booking tool above to find good-value packages midweek and low season.

Bank House is available for private hire.

Amenities

  • High-Speed Internet
  • Parking
  • Restaurant
  • Room Service

Recommended for

  • Couples
  • Foodies
  • Mature travellers
  • Seasoned travellers
  • Great views / scenery
  • Relaxation
  • Special occasions
  • History

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent service
  • Attention to detail
  • Rooms outdated
  • TV signal and WiFi access variable at best
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