What the papers say...

 

From The Sunday Times


February 28, 2010


Bolt Hole: Randy Pike, the Lake District


Holly Groom






The homely Randy Pike and eggs benedict


What’s the hotel like?

Well, for a start, it’s too homely to be called a hotel. It’s Andy and Chrissy Hill’s home, really; it’s just that they don’t mind if you drop in too. Formerly a hunting lodge on the Wray Castle estate, near Ambleside, Randy Pike is tiny, cosy and satisfyingly difficult to find. It’s almost impossible to get to by public transport, but your hosts will pick you up from the station if you arrive by train, drop you off at their restaurant, the Jumble Room (15 minutes away at Grasmere), or rescue you from a muddy field if your country walk is rained off.

Such devoted service can leave you feeling more like you’re staying with relatives than paying for a holiday (so much so that I nearly rang when I got back to London, to say I’d arrived home safely), but you’re left to explore in peace. You only really see the Hills when they stop by to deliver breakfast or some home-baked brownies — but you may be visited by the family pets, three dogs and three ducks, whenever they fancy popping in.

And the rooms? Bohemian but understated. Pale wood floors, stone-coloured walls and crisp white bed linen mean that the eccentric twists — such as giant Alice in Wonderland-style chairs and multicoloured floral wallpaper — look arty rather than overpowering. Both rooms are ensuite, with cat-swingable freestanding showers, but only one has a bath.

What’s the food like?

The breakfast menu was clearly designed for people planning to walk it off. Options include kedgeree, fruit trifle and scrambled eggs with salmon on home-made bread, and you’re encouraged to have as many of these options as you can physically fit in. There’s a big stack of berry and chocolate muffins, too, but if you can’t manage them on top of everything else, they magically appear in your pack for later in the day.

For dinner, it’s definitely worth making the trip into Grasmere to visit the Hills’ restaurant (015394 35188, thejumbleroom.co.uk; mains from £12.95). The menu has a Thai and Mediterranean theme, which is better than it sounds. You could try sweet potato and coriander ravioli with green curry sauce or double-crusted game pie with roasted root vegetables and damson jelly.

The room is bright and informal, with mismatched glass and china dotted along the windowsills and an old church pew lining one side of the room. Strangely, the most memorable detail is in the lavatory, where Andy has wallpapered every inch with his beloved vintage record sleeves. It’s hard not to like a place that has a Roxy Music montage in the loo.

Who’ll like it?

People who are happy to ruin a healthy walk with a beer and a huge dinner.

Who won’t?

People who don’t dig dogs, ducks or rock fans.


 

Why go? For a wonderfully romantic hideaway deep in the heart of the Lake District...

Randy Pike is a tiny B&B situated near Ambleside at the northernmost end of Lake Windermere. A tastefully converted hunting lodge, owned and run by Cumbrian locals Andy and Chrissy Hills, it’s a special little place in a truly special part of the world.

The three suites are all decorated in a sumptuous, ultra-feminine style, with boldly patterned walls and soft furnishings and swirly Rococo-esque head boards. The comfort factor is high, too – from the super soft king-size four-poster beds, to the flat-screen TVs and pre-loaded iPods. In the same vein, bathrooms have plenty of wow factor with their combination of full-length mirrors, professional GHD hair-straighteners, luscious L’Occitane toiletries and scented candles making it impossible not to feel thoroughly pampered during a stay.

But while the rooms (and the welcome) are fantastic, it’s the setting that’s the undoubted star of the show. With the views of the rolling countryside framed by French windows, walkers simply won’t be able to resist putting on their boots and taking a stroll over to Wray Castle (about half an hour away) or to nearby Blelham Tarn. For a more relaxing day, though, you can always just kick back and enjoy a glass of bubbly from the fridge with just one (or two) home baked white chocolate and raspberry muffins.

Highs: 

- Locally sourced breakfasts brought to your room at a time to suit you

- The owners Andy and Chrissy – a joy to spend time chatting to

- The GHD hair-straighteners and hairdryers

- Stunning scenery

- Bose iPod sound system

Lows: 

- Only three rooms (so book early to avoid disappointment)

Facilities & Important Info at Randy Pike 

Number of rooms: 3

Check-in/check-out times: Flexible

Spa: No

Swimming pool: No

Child-friendly: Children are welcome. But while Randy Pike works well for young children sharing with parents, it’s probably best to leave older kids at home with the grandparents.

Dogs welcome: The owners have dogs of their own – so leave the dog with the kids.

Bar & restaurant: There’s no bar or restaurant at Randy Pike, but a trip to The Jumble Room in Grasmere, also owned by Andy and Chrissy – who will happily drive you there – mixes a lovely intimate dining experience with delicious cuisine (just make sure to leave room for the brown bread ice-cream).

Location: Just west of Windermere, Low Wray is ideally situated for a whole range of outdoor pursuits with magnificent fell views. Ambleside and Hawkshead are just a few minutes’ drive away; Hill Top and the Beatrix Potter Gallery are also a short drive away. Low Wray is close to all central Lakes attractions including several National Trust houses and gardens. 

Nearest train station/airport: Windermere Railway Station is the nearest main line station at around a 10-minute drive away; Newcastle and Manchester airports are both about two hours from the B&B.