Built in the 1790s, Storrs Hall is an impressive Georgian mansion on the eastern shore of Lake Windermere. Once the home of John Bolton, a wealthy man from Ulverston who made his fortune from the unpalatable Liverpool slave trade. It is said that a secret tunnel lies beneath the building leading from the cellars to nearby Bowness where contraband in the form of both people and alcohol were once smuggled.
The mansion is set in 17 acres of grounds with a sumptuous formal dining room whose long windows look out on to an elegant terrace and picturesque gardens leading down to the Lake.
In stark contrast to the traditional, austere hall, the current owner, Mark Hindle has just given the mansion’s lakeside boathouse a £500k-plus refurb, creating a luxurious private suite with a whole host of mod cons.
Myself and Mr Welly were invited to experience both the new boathouse accommodation and the Hall’s Terrace restaurant last Sunday. With a ‘soft’ launch two months ago, the boathouse is set to become one of the go-to luxury destinations for treat weekenders and honeymooners to the Lake District. Set in its own vast private jetty and entertaining area complete with hot tub and large outdoor dining table, the scene is definitely set for fabulous parties complete with private chef dining and summer barbecues.
On entering the boathouse , a flight of modern-tiled steps leads upwards to a luxurious, warmly-lit suite.
Immediately to the right of the stairs at the very bottom, you can peer through a glass window at the murky boathouse below – hopefully there will be a gorgeous wooden rowing boat down there for exclusive guest use during the summer months.
Upstairs the decor has been carefully designed to allow for maximum space and comfort. Opting for modern interiors, solid oak beams lead down to walls clad in a rich red, suedette designer paper.
Mood lighting, blinds and music are seamlessly controlled by an ipad and wall switches.
The bespoke American walnut bed and plush sofas face the window and look out on to the stunning view over the lake (unfortunately too dark to see when we arrived but hey the interior view was just as good!)
Considering the perceived smaller space from outside, the bathroom is huge. Streamlined, uber-modern double basins by Keuco create a sweeping conception of extended space whilst the Villeroy and Boch bath takes centre stage in the room with an enormous shower to the left that converts to a steam room at the touch of an electronic button.
After a decadent soak in the tub with a glass of fizz whilst hubby watches TV, we finally drag ourselves away towards the Hall for dinner. The contrast in styles between the two buildings couldn’t be more stark. Just as the glass pyramid of the Louvre in Paris stands defiantly modern against the backdrop of the traditional museum, so the grandiose height and solidness of Storrs Hall seem vast and imposing in comparison with the modern sleek lines and intimate cosiness of its renovated boathouse.
We are greeted by duty manager Alasdair Macleod who invites us for a drink at the bar to the left of the main reception area. Dark and forboding the bar area harks back to an era of dark velvet, gentlemen and air thick with cigar smoke. A decadent, mahogany and glass featured bar-surround adapted and originally acquired from a Blackpool ballroom is both striking and impressive. Seemingly moulded into the room it seems like it has always been a part of its history.
We move through to the restaurant and sit within a narrow terrace resonant of a colonial conservatory. It is of course pitch black but I take a photo the next day and capture the delicate eau de nil fabrics against a dreamy watercolour backdrop of sky and lake.
I choose a starter of Parmesan, Onion Squash, Radish, Ver Jus and Nasturtium. Eating edible vegetation feels quite apt for the hothouse-style terrace we’re sitting in 😉
Mr Welly goes for Celeriac Velouté, Truffle, Garlic with Crispy Mushroom and we both choose the recommended accompanying wines of New Zealand Chenin Blanc and Australian Sauvignon Blanc respectively. My slightly sweet Sauvignon Blanc works well with the strong cheesy dish as it cuts through the flavour and pungent onion perfectly.
For main I choose the Lemon Brill with Capers, Lemon, Parsley, Oxtail and Cavolo Nero.
The rich flavours of surf and turf combined with Italian kale work well with the recommended Gavi, whilst hubby’s choice of Venison, Shallot, Spinach, Butternut and Mushroom are complimented by the punchy Cabernet Merlot. Both dishes are exquisitely delicate with delicious flavours.
The deserts are divine. I go for Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut, Caramel and Praline with the recommended rich, syrupy Pedro Ximenez dark sherry…
…whilst hubby opts for Peanut Butter, Banana, Caramel and Chocoloate. His salted peanut butter is fantastic and pairs superbyly with the slightly fizzy, sweet Moscato d’Asti.
Thoroughly sated, we retire to the drawing room (it’s actually a vast living room overlooking the lake but grandeur seems apt given the extent of fine dining we’ve just experienced). The fire is roaring and a huge Christmas tree takes precedence, beautifully decorated in hues of champagne gold and cream with gorgeous silk ribbons placed evenly throughout.
There we make a concerted effort to eat yet more sweetness in the form of decadent dark chocolate petit fours served within an originally-presented slice of real wood.
Thoroughly sated we sit back entranced by the flickering flames of the huge fire crackling in the grate before deciding sleepily to turn in and make the short journey back across to the lake and the welcoming warm glow of our luxury bolthole for the night.
Good for: Treat dinners and romantic evenings for couples. Despite the expected smaller portions of its fine dining menu, there is plenty of food for hungry eaters as the three courses are interjected with canapés and amuse-bouches.
Not for: Plain eaters and picky eaters.
Food: £££: At £52.00 per person for 3 courses plus canapés, amuse-bouche and petit fours I feel that this price is actually very reasonable for fine dining. The quality of food and service and the culinary effort is high-end.
Accommodation: ££££: The Boathouse costs an average of £400 per night mid-week, hiking up to £600 at the weekend. Includes breakfast. Fabulous private retreat for uber modern luxury if you’ve got the wad to spend…