The Gilpin hotel review – What it’s like to stay at the Lake District spa hotel considered one of the UK’s best

Just look at those hot tubs...

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 4th February 2024

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. 


SOURCE restaurant

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 

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 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. 

Gilpin Spice

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.

Read more

Featured image: The Manc Group