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Reviewed July 16, 2018

We just came back from a 2 night stay at Holbeck Ghyll. This was our first visit for 15 years - between 1999 and 2003 we stayed here at least 7 times and always found it to be a real treat, not just the breathtaking location but the accommodation and especially the food which was truly sublime. We were therefore really looking forward to returning.

We have dogs and therefore opted for one of the lodge rooms - in the past we had always stayed in one of these.

On arrival we were greeted by friendly and courteous staff - in fact I would say that during our stay we could not fault the service we received.

On entering the room we were immediately struck by the fact that apart from a flat screen TV the room was exactly as it had been 15 years previously. Same furnishings, wallpaper, carpets etc. The net result being that the room felt tired and somewhat shabby. In the past there used to be a jug of fresh milk in the room fridge (also a bottle of fizz if memory serves me well) but now you get little UHT cartons of milk and coffee in sachets. No different to a Premier Inn in other words. The bed mattress was so old and soft that when you sat on the edge the frame of the four poster dug into your thighs when you tried to stand up.

Not impressed.

OK we thought, let's see what dinner brings.

Since our last visit they have created a new bar area. All perfectly fine and nicely furnished.

We knew to expect a modern/minimalist style of menu. When we used to stay here they had a Michelin star and the menus were never extensive in terms of choice - normally 3 or 4 starters and mains - however always a good choice.

We did struggle to find dishes that we liked the sound of. This was not helped by the fact that some of the stated ingredients were unusual to say the least - 'yuzu' anyone ? How about Minus 8 as an ingredient ?

I went for a chopped beef starter followed by a rabbit main - my wife had crab followed by
halibut.

We were shown into the dining room and were pleased to find that we had been allocated a table in the main window overlooking the lake - always our favourite spot in the past. This was as good as it got however.

First problem. On the table behind us was a family with a small child - probably no more than 5 or 6 years old (the hotel say that only children over 8 years old are allowed in the dining room but this one clearly wasn't). Not the child's fault because she shouldn't have been put in this situation, but she was noisy, wouldn't sit still and generally behaved in a way which was very disruptive. We have nothing against children but there is a time and a place - certainly not when you are having a 'fine' dining experience.

Second problem. There were a lot of flies in the dining room. Yes, it had been a hot day but if the staff had taken care not to leave doors open prior to service this could have been greatly reduced. As it was we spent most of the meal swatting flies away - not pleasant.

OK. Relax.

The amuse bouches come which are OK but nothing special.

Wine is served along with a home made bread roll which again was OK.

Starters arrive. Mine consists of a tablespoon sized portion smothered in what looked like a crumble topping - I think this is what modern chefs refer to as 'soil'. My wife's starter was a similar size.

You don't expect plates heaving with food when it comes to this style of cuisine but the portions really were tiny - a couple of forkfulls and they'd gone.

You would be prepared to forgive the size if the taste is really special. However, my dish tasted of very little and the topping overwhelmed the dish - it was dry and tasteless. My wife's starter was not much better and contained two or three pieces of crab shell.

Not a great start.

Mains arrive. Mine is served on a black, pitted finished stoneware plate. Rather like eating off an upturned Le Creuset casserole lid. Again, lacking in taste and the rough texture of the plate made it almost impossible to eat the carrot puree underneath the rabbit dish. Also, very noisy - all you could hear in the dining room was cutlery scraping on dishes which were all some form of stoneware with a rough finish. What is wrong with porcelain I don't know.

For dessert we had lemon meringue - served with a quenelle of lemon sorbet. At least this tasted lemony but again not mind-blowing.

All in all very disappointing. When you factor in drinks (we had two half bottles of wine at over £30 a pop) you are looking at well over £100 a head. When I'm paying this kind of money for a meal I expect something pretty special and memorable. Certainly this had always been the case on previous visits. What we had however, miniscule portions notwithstanding, was a meal which fundamentally lacked flavour and was really uninspiring. I appreciate that at this level you are in many ways paying for the chefs skill and technical prowess and whilst you could see some evidence of this in the dishes served it does not alter the fact that the food was simply bland and unexciting. Style over substance.

Breakfasts were fine - but then again not much to get wrong with these.

All in all really disappointing. Holbeck Ghyll is an expensive place to stay by any measure and when you're paying the best part of £400 a night on a dinner/bed/breakfast basis you have every right to expect something truly special.

It seemed to us that this hotel is trading on past reputation. It needs some serious investment to bring the lodge rooms up to scratch - money has been spent on the main hotel at least but outside there are areas which look shabby or unfinished. As other reviewers have mentioned there are plenty of other hotels locally which have got their acts together and provide serious competition - just look a what is being spent on Low Wood Bay (smack in front of Holbeck Ghyll) and you'll see what we mean.

It will be a while before we return I'm afraid.

Room Tip: No comment
  • Stayed: July 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
9  Thank Tim K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 15, 2018 via mobile

What a wonderful start to our very first trip to the Lake District. We stayed at the venue for 2 nights.
This is a beautiful hotel, set in well-kept grounds.
I loved the little touches, like a small box of truffles & a card awaiting the birthday boy in our fab room.
Plus the Damson Gin, left for us, was rather nice!
The food is delicious (& the chef appreciates useful feedback) - both the Afternoon Tea & Tasting menu are worth a try. The ajoining Spa, whilst small, is still functional - the staff were helpful, when a item ran out during a shower. There’s an outside hot tub, an inside sauna & steam room - so bring your cossie!
However, the main asset to this hotel is definitely all the wonderful staff. They were some of the warmest & friendliest that I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.
Plus they were very professional, with nothing being too much trouble (even setting up a TV in a side room, so guests could be watch the England-v-Croatia semi final together, whilst still being served drinks & food)!
Such a great place to stay - go on, treat yourself!

Stayed: July 2018, travelled as a couple
1  Thank LollyGobbleChocBun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nigel W, Guest Relations Manager at Holbeck Ghyll Country House, responded to this reviewResponded July 31, 2018

Many thanks for your lovely review. We are delighted you chose us to celebrate your partners recent birthday with us.Thank you so much for your fantastic comments on our team. We are all so delighted to receive such positive comments, it makes our job so worthwhile!
We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Kind regards,
Nigel Williamson
Guest Relations Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 15, 2018

Had 3 course lunch. Impeccable service and outstanding food. Perfect portions beautifully presented. Chef did amazing things to tiny tomatoes and it just went up from there. And there is a world class view of Lake Windermere.

Did not stay in the hotel

Stayed: July 2018, travelled with family
1  Thank elliek134
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nigel W, Guest Relations Manager at Holbeck Ghyll Country House, responded to this reviewResponded July 31, 2018

Thank you so much for your wonderful review. We are delighted you so enjoyed your lunch and our enviable location.
We hope to see you again soon.
Kind regards,
Nigel Williamson
Guest Relations Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 13, 2018 via mobile

The hotel has a great location. Rooms are spacious and very comfortable. We found staff to be attentive and helpful to any request. Neither of our rooms had chests of drawers for clothing. This didn’t concern us due to length of stay but might others.
Food was excellent. Short menu but extremely well done. Wine list a bit limited and priced high which is par for the course in a lot of hotels nowadays.
We did use a lot of amenities however what did were fine.
Our highlight was definitely the food.

Stayed: July 2018, travelled with family
Thank PhilWG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nigel W, Public Relations Manager at Holbeck Ghyll Country House, responded to this reviewResponded July 15, 2018

Dear PhilWG,
Many thanks for taking the time to review us. I am delighted you enjoyed our food and services. I am a little puzzled with your comment regarding the chest of drawers as the room does have one.
We do hope to welcome you back in the near future.
Kindest regards;

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 10, 2018

Stayed here with my boyfriend for a Wedding recently and it was just amazing! Couldn't fault the Hotel for anything. Our room (Benjamen Bunny) was divine! The view was so beautiful, we even had breakfast delivered so we could enjoy the view. The staff were all very friendly and so helpful. The guest reservation manager (didn't catch her name) was fanatastic! The hotel even let us get ready in the Spa as we were too early to check in. Overall, such a lovely stay!!!

  • Stayed: July 2018, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Thank Katherine W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nigel W, Public Relations Manager at Holbeck Ghyll Country House, responded to this reviewResponded July 15, 2018

We are delighted you enjoyed your recent stay with us. The lodges do have spectacular views. I will pass your lovely comments on to all the staff.
We do hope to see you again soon.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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