In the old days it was simply Gilpin Lodge, now the Cunliffe family's swanky Edwardian retreat high above Lake Windermere occupies two premises within walking distance of each other – the original hotel and, a mile away, the intimate Lake House, set in its own private grounds (complete with hot tubs and a boat house) from where a complimentary chauffeur service will take you to Gilpin’s two restaurants.
Head to Hrishi for a taste of Hrishikesh Desai’s Michelin-starred food and declared by some as ‘the best restaurant in the Lake District”. Seasonal British ingredients meet Asian flavours in a succession of clever riffs with exotic overtones – think ceviche of Kyle of Lochalsh scallops with carrot and cumin purée, toasted hazelnuts, Xérès vinegar and orange dressing, chilli-glazed poached lobster with claw fritters, avocado mousse, confit lime and grapefruit, tobiko caviar and ‘panch phoran’ mango chutney or loin of spring lamb and pancetta-wrapped confit shoulder with baby aubergine, asparagus, torched cucumber and masala sauce.
Desserts such as peanut butter semifreddo with salted caramel, candied peanuts, hot fudge and banana ice cream are out of the same mould: “amazing, innovative food for the price.”
Vegans get their own plant-based menus (with matching wine suggestions), Sunday lunch sees roast chicken or beef with all the traditional trimmings while the Cumbrian afternoon tea brings finger butties in place of crustless sandwiches alongside the sweet treats.
The chic setting, meanwhile, is a world away from chintzy Lakeland rivals, while there’s a smart lounge bar staffed by bartenders who know how to rustle up a classic cocktail.
For something less formal, try Gilpin Spice with its fired-up open kitchen delivering tapas-style pan-Asian dishes inspired by the spice trail: Thai-style octopus, Szechuan chicken pancake, Malaysia laksa or Delhi-style chicken tikka, say. Two tasting menus (one vegetarian) take the indecision out of ordering.