There’s no shortage of luxury hotels up in the Lake District, but after another year calmly collecting awards for its shelves, The Gilpin is edging its way into the lead.
Now named the third-best boutique hotel in the entire UK, the intimate hotel is home to plenty of remarkable features – spa suites built on top of natural ponds, a Michelin-star restaurant, lakeside hot tubs, a sublime setting near Lake Windermere, resident llamas and pigs, and loads more to go at.
The Gilpin is actually spread across two sites, about a mile apart.
The first is The Lake House, a traditional country house with just six bedrooms in a fairytale setting beside Knipe Tarn. It feels quintessentially Lake District.
Then a little further up the road you’ll find the larger Gilpin Hotel, home to modern and tranquil spa suites and lodges as well as cosier, more traditional hotel bedrooms.
The Gilpin Hotel is also the proud home of SOURCE, a Michelin-star restaurant, and Gilpin Spice, a more laid-back pan-Asian restaurant (more on those later…)
The top-level customer service here begins before you’re even out of the car, with someone popping up from a cabin in the car park to direct you to your suite.
And that’s just the beginning…
We went to see exactly what it’s like to live the life of luxury with The Gilpin.
The spa suites at The Gilpin
There’s not much that can prepare you for the sheer scale and luxury of the spa suites when you first see them with your own eyes. I could quite easily hit my daily step count just by walking back and forth, taking it all in.
Each one has its own driveway with EV charger, and as you crunch your way up the slate path you’ll be walking alongside your own natural pond and a giant decked terrace.
The decking also hosts your own private hot tub, so roomy you can stretch all the way out, a seating area, and views down into the woods that surround The Gilpin.
Inside to the rooms then – there’s a main living space which is half-taken-up by a spa-level bathroom (gigantic circular tub, rainfall showers, double gold sinks), the rest of the space given over to a corner sofa, kitchenette and floating fireplace. There’s a sizeable double bedroom perched directly over the pond.
And then the piece de resistance – your own in-room spa facilities. I never thought I’d be staying somewhere where I could roll out of bed, make a coffee, and stroll into a state-of-the-art sauna and steam room without setting foot outside the door, but here we are.
Halfway through our first day, we have massages in our own private treatment room without having to do the awkward shuffle back through the hotel in a robe and slippers – bliss.
The world’s best bread at SOURCEWhite pork with braised spelt, chestnut and trufle at SOURCE in the Lake DistrictScallops in charcuterie sauceSOURCE restaurant at The Gilpin in the Lake DistrictA ‘tiramisu’ dessert at SOURCE
As for the on-site restaurants, The Gilpin is home to one of the Lake District’s best, the Michelin-starred SOURCE.
With head chef Ollie Bridgwater in charge of the kitchen, his team create a seasonal fine-dining menu that’s creative and impressive but remarkably laid-back.
You start your evening with a cocktail in the lounge, sinking into plushy sofas by the fireplace, before being taken into the dining room itself.
The staff are personable, approachable and relaxed, explaining each dish (and how to eat it) in plain English.
Standout dishes include their ‘gin and tonic’, a gravity-defying amuse bouche that pops in a burst of refreshing citrus in your mouth; hand-dived scallops swimming in a smoky sauce that has all the heart of an entire charcuterie board; and tiny homemade bread loaves with a glaze of fermented garlic honey.
It’s a restaurant worth travelling for – but luckily for us it’s only a short trot back to our spa suite for a blissful sleep.
The Gilpin’s Lake House
The hydropool looks down the valley. Credit: The Manc GroupThe lakeside hot tub at The Gilpin’s Lake House. Credit: The Manc Group
After breakfast (posh rarebit and poached eggs for me) and a walk down to say hello to the hotel’s pet pot-bellied pigs (Salt, Pepper and Mustard), it was time to make our way down to The Gilpin Lake House.
It’s like stepping inside Jane Austen’s imagination. While parts of the Gilpin Hotel are bang up to date architecturally and decoratively, down at the Lake House things are far more traditional.
And while it’s a luxury hotel it’s a playful and familial one too, with animal statues standing guard in the grounds (watch out for the gorilla in the woods and the goblin by the hot tub) and each room named after a family matriarch (we stayed in Harriet).
Our bedroom has picturesque views of the hotel’s very own lake, where a small jetty holds wooden lounge chairs and a boat house watched over rowing boats for guests to use in warmer months.
The Lake House. Credit: The Manc GroupAfternoon tea at The Lake HouseThe lounge at the Lake House. Credit: The Manc Group
The joy of the Lake House really does lie in its communal spaces. Whether it’s playing board games and browsing walls of books in the lounge or chatting over an afternoon tea in the dining room looking over Knipe Tarn, you can’t go far wrong.
You can book the leisure facilities free of charge so you have them to yourselves for an hour, which we do, spending an afternoon hopping from hot tub to indoor swimming pool to sauna, champagne in hand.
Think that all hot tubs are created equal? You couldn’t be more wrong. One of The Gilpin Lake House’s tubs is a huge hydro pool with sensational views all the way down the neighbouring valley. The other is a deep cedarwood hot tub right beside the lake, offering complete tranquillity no matter the weather.
And when you’ve had enough of floating about, the short walk around the lake is just taxing enough to justify another cocktail by the fire in the lounge.
What an absolute gem Gilpin Spice is, serving up one of the best Asian meals I’ve had not just in the Lake District, but ever.
The hotel’s more casual restaurant is headed up by chef Tom ‘Westy’ Westerland and a fantastic front of house team.
Dishes here span Korea, Thailand, India, Japan, China, Indonesia and more.
Westy’s fried chicken is a highlight (as you’d hope, if he’s decided to put his name to it on the menu), coated in a glaze of sticky gochujang.
There’s fall-apart slow-cooked ox cheek in a powerful rendang sauce; edamame puri that explode with flavour after you pop them whole into your mouth; and Goan-style tiger king prawns swimming in a comforting coconut sauce.
Even if the rest of The Gilpin is out of your price range (though it’s worth saving for), the Gilpin Spice alone is worth the trip up into Cumbria.
You can find out more about The Gilpin and book your stay here.
The 1975 prove they’re some of the best performers on the planet with homecoming gig at the AO Arena
Last night, The 1975 reminded Manchester and fans all over that they’re some of the very best performers on the planet when it comes to music right now, it’s that simple.
Not hyperbole, just an honest opinion from a fan who’s seen them multiple times now and has only seen them get bigger and better each time, not to mention become more impressive as all-round entertainers.
Managing to get a standing ticket to the first of their two packed-out nights at the AO Arena, almost exactly a year on from seeing them from the seated section in 2023, it’s fair to say that being in amongst it certainly played its part in somehow topping the previous and already unbelievable gig.
Dancing around like prats, shaking our knees and screaming our heads off; jumping up and down, and drinking in every drop of the serotonin-soaked atmosphere, we can’t remember many other shows that have genuinely got better with each second that passed — and it all started with an amazing support act.
The 1975 return to Manchester’s AO Arena and they are ‘still at their verrrrry best’ (Credit: The Manc Group)
Late last year, The Manc Audio had the pleasure of going along to see ever-rising Dirty Hit labelmates, The Japanese House, at New Century Hall where Amber Bain’s vocals nearly had us in tears and Saturday evening was no different.
Even in the space of just a couple of songs — the majority of which 1975 fans know pretty well too given how close the two acts are and certainly more than most supports usually enjoy the pleasure of when playing huge tours like this — we could fully envisage them headlining this arena themselves.
While The Japanese House is technically just Bain and her touring band, the record company’s influences, paired with production from Matty Healy himself and drummer George Daniel means that there are 1975 notes all over their sound, so it’s no surprise the two dovetail so well on a billing.
We were a bit gutted we didn’t get to see him come out and sing his part on ‘Sunshine Baby’ for their final song, but you can’t win ’em all. A very, very special singer-songwriter you should all be paying very close attention to.
You won’t get many better openers than that.
As for the headliners themselves, while much of the set and stage design has remained pretty much the same from last year, the biggest difference right from the off was that Healy was on top form in every sense of the word, having played the previous AO Arena gig hopped up on Lemsip and red wine.
We didn’t think his voice sounded too far from its best in 2023 anyway, but it’s safe to say that everyone benefitted from him looking visibly healthier and perhaps a little less tipsy than last time, and the well-delivered vocals from minute one made the super cinematic opening credits feel even more considered.
And while there were plenty more of those movie-like scripted moments throughout the show and clever uses of the set (we’re not going to spoil too much), this latest iteration of the live set still has the same gorgeous aesthetic but now feels like just the right amount of abstract.
That being said, we don’t think anyone was expecting to see the Marmite frontman suddenly appear from a platform rising out of the ground and start singing the stripped-down version of ‘I Like America’ to a naked waxwork of himself…
Seeing The 1975 is now just as much of a visual experience as it is a musical one.
But this was all part of what made the performance special last time and again last night. It isn’t just the joy of kicking the crowd off with those 80s-infused bangers they’re so good at like ‘Looking For Somebody to Love’ and ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’ — it’s all the other stuff around it.
The fact of the matter is, we have genuinely never seen shows like the kind that The 1975 write; they swing from well-rehearsed and thought-provoking to hugging your mate as you sway together before the whole arena suddenly turns into one big dancefloor and you’re just partying again. It’s seamless.
It might not be Pink doing a dozen backflips as she flies across the air in a harness at Bolton Stadium with loads of pyros and dance routines (though we did get the Love It We Made It choreography, back by popular demand), but these lot have come a long way from just drinking wine and smoking fags as they play the hits. It definitely feels like the rest of the band all had their hero moments this time too.
From saxophonist John Waugh shining in multiple spotlighted moments, Healy introducing bassist Ross MacDonald to the “ladies, especially” and more, they all had their hero moments. A special shout-out to the truly wonderful session player Polly Mooney as well, who took the lead on ‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’ and smashed her ‘About You’ bridge. She’s far from just a backing player, believe us.
The sax is such a big part of their sound now.Polly has quickly become a fan favourite.
Playing a little something from every era as we hoped they would, adding in a few older tracks into the setlist compared to the previous tour, there weren’t many moments as happiness-inducing as bouncing around to ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’, ‘The Sound’ and, well, ‘Happiness’. Pure euphoria.
There was also plenty of catharsis in there too, as we also got cult classics like ‘Robbers’ and ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’, as well as probably the saddest and yet still the funkiest slow jam in ‘Somebody Else’.
We have no shame in admitting we welled up during a few, but you’ll just have to see which ones may or may not set you off.
As alluded to, there are plenty of surprises in store over the course of the 26-track and roughly two-and-a-half-hour set, and we also enjoyed the Wilmslow group giving a nod to their old stomping grounds like Satan’s Hollow and Deaf Institute where they headed for the afterparty. They’re local lads as far as we’re concerned.
1975 gigs require non-stop energy and Manchester crowds never disappoint.
For the last two tours or so now, Healy has somewhat flippantly referred to The 1975 as “the best band in the world” up on stage and while being a bit cocky and braggadocious is far from new territory for the self-proclaimed nepo baby, we’re starting to take that claim more seriously each time.
The 34-year-old has been a controversial figure in music for a good long while now and understandably so — he certainly hasn’t always hit the mark as a ‘character’ and sometimes says things we don’t agree with, whether sardonic or not — but what it comes down to is him being a showman first and foremost.
Better still, he took a lot of the recent criticism for his comments and on-stage antics and pivoted to write almost all of it into this new show in a genuinely interesting way. Finding rockstars that have just as much self-awareness as they do self-obsession is pretty rare but, above everything else, the group as a whole have created a truly incredible live experience. On their art alone, they’re up there with the best.
For anyone going along to night two of The 1975’s Manchester homecoming at the AO Arena this Sunday, if the band bring even half of the energy and charisma that they did one night one, you’ll be in for an absolute treat and we’ll jump at every chance we get to see them again – so should you.
This pretty much sums everything up you can expect from The 1975 in Manchester.
Rylan’s documentary on football and homophobia is a powerful watch that everyone should make time for
Former X-Factor contestant turned TV personality and presenter Rylan Clark’s documentary on homophobia in the world of football aired on TNT Sports this past Tuesday night and it’s probably one of the most important watches we’ve seen in a while.
Broadcast directly after the latest round of Champions League fixtures, when viewing figures are at a natural peak, Rylan’s debut as a lead broadcaster in Football, Homophobia And Me has thousands of viewers at home tuning in to take a more serious inside look at the game they love.
Highlighting one of the sport’s biggest and sadly lasting drawbacks, the 45-minute documentary tackles everything from Ryaln’s own experiences of homophobia growing up as a gay football fan, the stories of other LGBTQ+ footballers and fans, as well as the progress of supporter culture up until now.
There are plenty of footy fans trying to make the ground a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
As well as harking back to awful stories of gender-based discrimination from years gone by such as that of Justin Fashanu, Britain’s first openly gay male footballer who sadly took his own life in 1998, to the countless tales of fans being abused for their sexuality or how they identify, it’s a tough watch at times.
Supporting his local team West Ham and having been to games ever since he was a kid, the 35-year-old explains how he always felt that sense of unease and being made to not feel entirely welcome inside football stadiums.
Detailing the Catch-22 of being ‘too gay’ to be allowed to football with others and being mocked for enjoying other passions like dancing, his early days as a footy fan culminated in an ambulance rushing him to hospital after his skull was fractured by a bunch of boys who repeatedly kicked and stamped on him for his sexuality.
"My skull was fractured in a couple of places. I was told that my head was repeatedly kicked and stamped on."@Rylan: Homophobia, Football and Me 🏳️🌈⚽️
Interviewing the first openly gay football manager in the grassroots game and LGBTQ-friendly supporters’ organisations like his club’s Pride of Irons groups; retired gay footballers like ex-Aston Villa and West Ham midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, just to name a few, it gives a real perspective from those who have lived it first-hand.
Rylan and several of those he speaks to also call out empty virtue signalling in football without any real support, the likes of Jordan Henderson for contradicting his position as a Rainbow Laces ambassador by moving to Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is outlawed and punishable by death, as well questioning why there is a difference in attitudes towards gay footballers in the women’s game.
As he himself puts it, we sincerely hope for the day “doing documentaries like this” and there is no need for players to make “coming out videos on social media”.
Rylan’s Football, Homophobia And Me documentary is an essential watch not only for anyone who wants to help cut out discrimination in the beautiful game and leave it in a better place but for anyone who needs a reminder of how much work there still is to do.
"I feel really comfortable in my work and in my private life as well. But it's just a shame that guys don't feel the same way." – Bay FC player, @jbeattie91@Rylan: Homophobia, Football and Me 🏳️🌈 ⚽️