Stunning views over Lake Windermere are a huge plus point at Holbeck Ghyll, & there’s plenty going on inside this Victorian country house to hold your interest, too. The old-school dining room reeks of tradition, but chef David McLaughlin’s food is bang up-to-date, tempering robust flavours with elegant presentation – perhaps hand-dived scallops with spiced cauliflower, apple & raisin purée, or best end of Cumbrian lamb with black-olive gnocchi & aubergine. A terrace overlooking the lake is ideal for summer alfresco dining, & two cosy lounges (one with a log fire) are perfect for textbook afternoon teas & post-prandial drinks. General manager Andrew McPherson also knows all about organising big weddings – he took care of Madonna’s nuptials at Skibo Castle in Scotland.
A lot of work has clearly gone into this list – not just in sourcing the wines, but also in giving the customer reasons to engage with it. As well as a ‘House Selection’ and ‘Fantastic Finds’ (all accompanied by tasting notes), there is – unusually and commendably – a huge selection of half-bottles. While the focus is decidedly on Europe, the New World selection manages to namecheck a lot of good producers, too.