The Samling

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Address: Ambleside Road, Windermere, LA23 1LR, United Kingdom

Star rating:
5 star hotel

4.6

The premier Lakes destination hotel for the new-money crowd.

The word samling means 'gathering' in Norwegian but, if you're booking into this luxury bolthole on the northeastern shore of Windermere, then you're more likley trying to escape the boardroom or extended family gathering.

Plenty of people were trying to do so when I was there but with guests arriving to a small desk in the entrance hall (no reception) and the cars of new arrivals stacking up around the sculpture-dominated rotunda outside the front door, it turned into quite a gathering. The harrassed maitre d' was positively sweating in his shiny shoes, trying to valet park cars and dispatch luggage.

Once registered and retreated to cottages in the grounds, a new gathering was on the cards as people tried to bag the al-fresco hottub for dusk over Windermere with a glass of champagne in hand, 'natch.

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

Location

It's a sharp turn off the main A591 between Windermere and Ambleside, although the helicopter pad is the only way to arrive for many patrons.

If you are driving, beware the steepest driveway entrance in the Lakes and tricky parking for check in (before moving your car to your cottage). I stalled and rolled backwards - twice.

Bedrooms

The 11 small but perfectly formed rooms, all tastefully decorated with neutral fabrics, slate bathrooms and Culpeper toiletries, are divided between five in the main house and six more rustic cottages. Personally, I preferred the latter for more of a sense of privacy and tranquility.

Barker Brow is a junior suite with a split-level lounge, while The Bothay is the flagship suite with a patio, African-themed decor and a rainshower bath alleged to have once belonded to Winston Churchill. Maybe he didn't fancy rubbing shoulders in the hottub.

Some of the rooms are named after the local Borrowdale dialect for counting sheep - don't ask.

Public areas

I liked best of all the sunny terrace outside the main entrance hall for afternoon tea with Windermere glistening in the late-afternoon sun beyond the grounds.

Eating and drinking

The intimate 22-cover restaurant is Michelin starred under the auspices of head chef Nigel Mendham. Foodies, consider splashing out on the Gourmand menu with acompanying wines sepcially chosen by the sommelier to accompany the dishes - £105 per person.

The majorty of guests take breakfast in their room, many in their bed, and there's no charge for this service. A house rule and a nice little touch of indulgence.

Leisure facilities

This is not a spa break but there are 67 acres of grounds and gardens to explore to walk off a dark-chocolate Bllod Orange. Look out for the trail of artworks - they're a metaphor or something.

Service

Professional and slick, especially at dinner, while more relaxed during the daytime. But it felt a bit too cool for its own good at times.

Who stays there

Unlike the more, ahem, mature clientele at sister Lakeland property Sharrow Bay, also part of the von Essen Private Collection, The Samling attracts the younger, new-money entrepreneur.com set. Special occasions, corporate events and a frisson of Hollywood glitterati filming nearby take up the slack.

Price advice

The GM informed me that around 10 per cent of business is exclusive use. If you're splashing the cash, then budget for £6000 per night for b&b and a seven-course Gourman dinner. A snip!

Amenities

Recommended for

  • Business travellers
  • Couples
  • Families with teenagers
  • Foodies
  • Celebrity spotting
  • Great views / scenery
  • People watching
  • Trendiness
  • Chilling out

Pros & Cons

  • Those views
  • A frisson of film-star glamour
  • Tricky access and parking
  • A little stuffy at times
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