Take a Dip in the Heated Pool
I don’t care if it’s grey and even a little bit cold outside – heck, even if it’s raining – if there’s a heated pool, I’m taking a dip. And when you get to split your time between the pool and the in-house sauna room, life is pretty good.
Read a Book While Munching on Cookies and Admiring the View
One of the best things about our room at Askham Hall (it was The Old Dressing Room, FYI), was the wonderful view out over the gardens. Classic FM was playing on the radio in the room when we arrived, and homemade cookies had been left out in a little jar so I felt it rude not to sit there and soak in the moment with a good book. It was the most stately I had felt in a long time (read: ever).
Cosy up next to the Crackling Fireplace
Nico, the amazing House Manager at Askham, told us that they light the fire in the lounge every day. At first I wasn’t sure whether to believe him (because although it was unseasonably chilly that day, it wasn’t yet autumn), but sure enough, it was crackling and roaring less than an hour later. The smell was fantastic, the sound so inviting, and it made the lounge even cosier (and more Downton-like) than it had been before.
Dine on the Five-Course Tasting Menu in the Restaurant
The camera on my phone broke after we returned home, which I’m devastated to say means that I lost all of my photos of the amazing five-course meal we enjoyed in the restaurant, apart from this one of the amuse bouche and petit fours that started and ended the meal in style.
What I can tell you, however, is that we dined on everything from grilled scallops in a Bloody Mary consommé, to Cumbrian partridge, west coast John Dory (with the most divine lemon verbena dressing) and Shorthorn beef bavette with triple-cooked chips (a total surprise, and like the most delicious steak-frites you’ll ever eat). Every dish was more superb than the last, and Nico suggested a white wine from the house cellar to accompany the food that was exactly what we had asked for – light, not too dry and perfectly crisp. The service and food was all faultless and it was definitely the best meal I’ve eaten this year, not least because of the wonderfully fresh ingredients from the gardens and the owners’ farm.
Enjoy a Nightcap at the Honesty Bar
Inside what I can only assume used to be the grand stone-clad study of the hall lies the residents bar; an honesty bar stocked with all kinds of premium spirits and mixers so that you can make yourself a cocktail during the day. Unfortunately I was a little too full after all the food, wine and champagne (I know, life is hard, right?), but Scott enjoyed a tot of whisky before we went to bed.
Explore the Grounds
The grounds around Askham Hall are extensive, and in your room you’re given a fun hand-drawn map to guide you around. In addition to the goats, chickens, ducks and pigs that graze on the land, you can also walk through the apple orchard, the topiary garden, a children’s play area and a ‘Land of Giants’ (a wonderful garden behind a secret door that took me back to my childhood when I was obsessed with The Secret Garden). You also get to see all of the fresh ingredients – herbs, fruits, veggies – that are used in the restaurant kitchen.
Take Your Dog with You
Just like our previous accommodation in Cumbria, Askham Hall was dog friendly, and Holly loved running around the gardens and sniffing the gargoyles that flank the main entrance. They had even left a little basket in our room filled with a jar of dog treats and a tennis ball for her to play with (little do they know she’s pretty lazy and only chases the smell of food, not tennis balls – but it’s the thought that counts).
Marvel at the Quirky Antiquities
Because Askham Hall used to be a private house, there are fantastic antiquities, photographs and pieces of family history dotted around the place that belong to the Lowther family (who still own the whole estate). We enjoyed flicking through the old photo albums from decades ago, as well as amusing ourselves with the humourous pictures and book titles in the downstairs bathroom (complete with old fashioned ‘lavvy-style’ toilet with a wooden seat and long chain handle!)
- Askham Hall, Askham, Near Penrith CA10 2PF
- Rooms from £150/night