The Beech Hill is simplicity itself to find being on the main road around Windermere. This isn’t to say you’ll suffer from sleepless nights because although the road is busy, the vast majority of the rooms are at the back of the hotel. Indeed I wouldn’t consider booking any of the four rooms that face the road. They’re barely cheaper and to sacrifice the incredible view for maybe a little over a tenner would be criminal.
The entrance to the car park is probably the worst aspect of the Beech Hill. It’s down a steep gradient and when you exit you have to build up sufficient momentum and then stop suddenly to check the passing traffic. I feel sure there must have been a few bumps, scrapes and curses at this junction. The car park itself though seems just about adequate for the number of guests.
The hotel is built on a steep hill, hence the name, and it’s a few flights of stairs to reception and a few more to your room if you’re staying on one of the higher floors. Hence it’s not a hotel for those with mobility issues. There aren’t any lifts, the hotel is stepped and is not a conventional ‘up and down’ building.
At reception you get your first glimpse as to why the Beech Hill is so popular. The view across the lounge and out through the panoramic windows is incredible. Literally miles of the lake is visible as well as numerous peaks beyond. The windows stretch the length of this wonderful , spacious room and numerous comfy seats are available to sit and stare in awe. The lounge also boasts a roaring open fire and the whole atmosphere is 10/10. The bar is situated at the far end and the service was extremely good. You can take your drinks onto an ample sized terrace to get even closer to nature if you prefer.
We stayed in room 42 which is very convenient for all of the facilities being only one floor down from reception. Again the view from our balcony was superb. We overlooked the car park (one floor below) but this is of little consequence. Only the extremely picky would dwell on the tarmac when the view to the fore is so majestic. The gardens are impressive in their own right and they lead down to a private jetty and the shoreline. In the Summer this would be a real bonus for those who want to swim or canoe.
Our room was clean and fresh as were the corridors leading to it. The hotel is undergoing refurbishment and given time any existing faults should be remedied. The bathroom in particular was A1. The water pressure in all taps was great, the tiling to floor and walls expertly done, the lighting top notch and the size just about enough. Piping hot water seemed to be always available.
The main room had almost wall to wall French windows to maximise the view, the bed was large with an extensive range of pillows and the carpet clean. I would have liked a larger television, well positioned though it was and I’d have made small changes to the balcony to improve it. There is no screen between the adjoining balconies and I like my privacy, I don’t like being obligated to make conversation and I’m sure many other guests feel the same. I’d have also liked to have a canopy to ensure being able to sit out with a coffee of cocktail. Nonetheless the balcony was large and would have accommodated half a dozen or more friends easily.
The restaurant is a very good size and once again some tables take full advantage of the view. Being early risers we got plum tables on both mornings of our stay and this made the excellent breakfast even better. The food is high quality and served up in equally high quality crockery and utensils. The whole thing is class and the staff are very attentive. Some guests ordered items not on the buffet menu like poached eggs and smoked haddock (£3.50) and rated these as impressively.
We didn’t eat in the hotel on the evening. Normally we’d book a special all-inclusive rate and get the evening meal at a bargain price. This time such a deal was unavailable and we thought £35 each for the meal, plus drinks, was out of our reach. To be fair, the guests we spoke to who had eaten in the restaurant said it wasn’t that overpriced considering the standard and the location. Each to their own and next time we will try harder to get a deal. The bar menu is fairly limited but room service has a reasonably comprehensive range.
The pool area gets complaints. The changing rooms are tiny, there’s no sauna, steam room or hot tub and loungers are in short supply. But we were just happy to get a Lakeland hotel that had a decent sized pool, they’re relatively thin on the ground. And at the risk of sounding boring, the view from the wall-to-wall windows is the same as from the lounge above.
Possibly because of its location, the internet connection and phone networks aren’t always 100% reliable. Indeed internet is only available in the lounge and I could rarely get a service via O2 on my mobile. Unless you have work that HAS to be done though, who wants to spend a break in the Lakes glued to the screen or texting. The bustling centre of Bowness is a five minute drive away and the ferry to the west side of Windermere even nearer (£4.30 for car and passengers). This is much the quieter side and has some relatively benign walks, the simplest taking you to the bizarre castle of Wray. I say ‘bizarre’ because I’ve rarely seen a castle in such an excellent state of repair. Small wonder, it was only built in 1840!
All in all an excellent hotel, supremely located and comfortable. Not the cheapest but worth the extra outlay. Even on the most hostile of days you wouldn’t feel like climbing the walls when stuck indoors. Relaxing in that lounge with a good book or newspaper would while away many an enjoyable hour.