The perfect Lake District wedding

by Craig Nelson

Love the idea of getting married in the Lake District? This essential guide to the region's most romantic wedding venues will ensure finding the perfect place to say "I do" is not a labour of love

We were sipping a coffee on the terrace, taking in the unbroken views of Lake Windermere while watching the sun set over the Lakeland Fells, when we decided to get married at the Beech Hill.

The power of this peaceful scene had quite an effect on my bride-to-be, whose heart was melted by the wow factor.

In truth, this love affair with the Lakes had been building during a whistle-stop tour through this most romantic of regions, hunting for our perfect wedding venue.

Despite initial concerns about organising a wedding so far from our home in Manchester, the quality and choice of hotels on offer, not to mention the amazing scenery, settled our nerves.

The fact that many of the hotels we visited offered better value than the wedding venues back home simply rubber stamped the deal.

But picking the one proved to be difficult.

We set off armed with Cumbria County Council’s essential guide to weddings in the Lakes and plotted a course from the north, in Derwent Water, near Keswick, down through Grasmere, finally ending up in the wedding capital, Lake Windermere.

It took us two days and countless viewings before we finally stumbled across our perfect wedding venue. By that final viewing we were dazed, confused and fit to drop.

Needless to say, the search was worth it, but, hopefully, our guide to the top wedding venues in the Lake District will help save some poor soul from the same agonising labour of love.

Our favourite:
The Beech Hill, Newby Bridge Road, Lake Windermere
Cost - circa £8,000

About half way between Bowness and Newby Bridge, this lovely former manor house does not look much from the road, but boasts one of the best views of any hotel on Lake Windermere.
For us, it had everything:

  • Balcony, gardens and most bedrooms with uninterrupted views of one of the most beautiful lakes in the UK. It even has a path and gardens that wind their way down to a private jetty, where guests can pick up a chartered boat for a drinks reception on the lake.
  • A restaurant with huge windows looking out to the lake, which is an ideal setting for the ceremony, reception and evening do.
  • Fantastic, friendly staff, including wedding planner Donna, who is worth her weight in gold
  • The perfect, relaxed atmosphere - not too posh or too stuffy. Less “stately home”, more “home from home”.
  • A decadent bridal suite, which comes complete with a secret entrance to the hotel’s swimming pool and a private sun terrace, again over-looking the lake, with it’s own hot tub
  • A complimentary night’s stay for the bride and groom on their first wedding anniversary
  • An award-winning kitchen with two AA rosettes - the food at our wedding was exceptional.

Best of the rest
Of course we can only give the ultimate thumbs up to one hotel, but during our search we found a handful that stood out. Here are our other favourites:

Borrowdale Gates Hotel, Grange, Keswick
Cost - circa £8,000

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, this very pretty country house, within a short walk of Derwent Water, is a really nice choice. It’s refined restaurant doubles up as the perfect venue for the ceremony and the chef certainly has skills.

Swan Hotel, Newby Bridge, near Windermere
Cost - circa £12,000

The Swan probably has the best wedding facilities of any hotel in the Lakes that we visited. It has a purpose built wedding area, complete with chapel for the ceremony, function suite for the reception and a very impressive dance floor.

Miller Howe Hotel, Rayrigg Road, Windermere
Cost - circa £15,000

For an intimate wedding, this boutique hotel is first class. Small, yet perfectly formed, it has lovely gardens running down to the lake and a real cosy, yet distinguished air to it.

The Linthwaite House Hotel,Crook Road, Windermere
Cost - £30,000 upwards

Set back high on Cartmel Fell, with panoramic views of Lake Windermere, Linthwaite combines charm and sophistication with a real feeling of exclusivity. The attention to detail really sets this fine hotel apart, with little extras, like its own fishing tarn, that make all the difference.

Armathwaite Hall Country House, Bassenthwaite
Cost - £55,000 upwards

This 18th century country retreat is set in 400 acres of delightful grounds. The view of Bassenthwaite Lake from the hotel’s croquet lawn and sun terrace is always dramatic. Add to that a luxurious spa and your own heli-pad and you have the perfect venue to throw the wedding of the year. Needless to say, exclusivity will set you back £55,000.

The wedding costs are merely an estimated guide for comparison, based on a wedding for around 70 guests. Prices at each venue will vary dramatically depending on the choice of menu, extras and time of year.