Five-star feast in lovely Lakeland

The Grotto, close to the shores of Ullswater, would make a decent cruise liner. The five-star feast includes heated indoor pool, gym and two acres of land. Handcarved oak abounds. Six en-suites are underfloor-heated wet rooms. If only it were on the edge of the lovely Lake District. Oh wait, it is.

Cruise-ship comfort in Cumbria

Ullswater’s just around the corner. If you could transport it there, The Grotto would make a decent cruise liner. This is spectacular – a five-star feast that boggles the mind and bewitches the senses. It’s a grand design in every sense: in fact, could Kevin McCloud be lurking here armed with an engaging monologue?

If he is, you might never find him. There’s an acre of Cumbria here plus accommodation for up to 18 in six en-suite bedrooms. The living room is the size of a church and the luxury features appear like a set of tick boxes: yes, there’s a pool; and of course there’s a gym.

The Grotto does all of this without ever straying offside into footballers’ wives territory. It’s just very, very comfortable. En-suites are underfloor-heated wet rooms. The gym comes with rowing machine, bikes and multigym. The indoor pool is heated and huge. Handcarved oak abounds. Is there a helipad? No. We’ll get onto them.

From the living room you can gaze at the gardens through the huge arched floor-to-ceiling window. Even the dining room has a lounge area – and a monster balcony that drinks in the fellside views. The kitchen’s bespoke and the beds invite deep, dreamy sleep. If only it were on the edge of the lovely Lake District. Oh wait, it is.

Pool, gardens and grounds

The Grotto pinches a whole acre of Cumbria. It’s yours to explore. For the kids to play hide-and-seek, for you to enjoy the sweet thwack of leather on willow, or the clack of a croquet mallet.

The great outdoors is just that here. From the dining room, open up the doors to the balcony and sit out in the clear Cumbrian air with a G&T, drinking in the views. Let the kids loose to find the swings and the football nets.

Flanked by columns and accessed from a balcony, the indoor heated pool is big and breathtaking and in this area you’ll also find the Jacuzzi and a seating area. Heated to 24 degrees and spanning eight metres by four, the pool is the perfect way to lose a few hours, with inflatables provided for the kids.

Living spacesLiving spacesLiving spacesLiving spaces

Living spaces

Imagine the largest, grandest living area. Now double it. The first floor comprises two large open-plan lounges with dining areas. You’ll find two large TVs, one of which is a flat-screen with DVD player and games console; the other a large curved TV; both showing Freeview.

Large glazed doorways lead out onto the very large decking area providing views to the distant Pennine range and the property’s two acres of cut grass used for football and other games, as well as small swings and a climbing frame. The overhanging oak staircase somehow enhances the sense of being on a cruise. Head out to the starboard deck to take in the rising or setting sun, for an al-fresco breakfast or evening night-cap.

If you can tear yourself away, get stuck into the gym: keep in shape on the treadmill, bike and multigym as you keep up with the world on the flat-screen TV, or break off to tap into the fast Wi-Fi that whizzes around the place.

Cooking and dining

Cooking’s a pleasure in the handmade, bespoke kitchen fully equipped for you to cook up a curry, or anything else that tickles your tastebuds. Slip out a Sauvignon from the wine chiller, while the two double ovens do double duty, then load up the dishwasher afterwards. Job done.

If you’d rather we did the job while you get acquainted with a nicely chilled aperitif, or just get nicely chilled, we can recommend Choice Catering. Serving anything from cold buffets to canapes, including a cheese tower served with crackers, celery and chutney, Debbie’s a dream for one-off celebrations.

You’ll eat in the living-dining area, with the cavernous sense of scale adding atmosphere to any occasion. For an al-fresco alternative, pop out through the double doors to the first-floor deck and feast in the fresh Lakeland air.

Change the scene at The Gate Inn, serving potted local rabbit, pickled vegetables, wild-nettle soup and seared red mullet with real ale – to rave reviews. For an oriental option, try the Platinum Chinese or, for pizza and pasta, pop down to the Villa Bianca Restaurant in Penrith.


The Grotto sleeps up to 20 in seven en-suite bedrooms, three sofa beds, and a pull-out bed. Exquisite rooms come fitted in bamboo with spots on the ceiling and wood on the floor. Drift off to the large flat-screen TVs and wake before feeling the warmth of the en-suite underfloor-heated wet rooms with walk-in showers.

On the ground floor, bedroom 1, 2, and 3 comprise large double beds, whilst bedroom 4 has a super king & single sofa bed, flat-screen TVs showing Freeview, and en-suites with walk-in showers. Bedrooms and en-suites also feature underfloor heating.

On the first floor, you’ll find Bedroom 5 with its king-size bed, pull-out single bed and en-suite wet room.

And finally, on the second floor are Bedrooms 6, the master suite and 7 with its 3 single beds and 3 pull-out singles. Both have en-suite wet rooms. Step outside of these bedrooms for a balcony with seating, over looking the lounge/dining areas and with onward views of the garden and fields.

Among the thick rugs, the fitted wood, the spa-like bathrooms, the skylights and the spotlights, luxury is as deep as your sleep here. In this relaxed rural setting, only the breeze through the boughs delays your dreams.

What people say

What people say

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"With regards to feedback we had an absolutely great time. The children especially loved the swimming pool and the owners had put a lot of thought into providing inflatable toys, swimming nappies, etc to make this fun for all. The welcome gifts we received was a lovely touch and again the children loved the little toy dogs for each of them." - (Christmas 2015)
"We had a very enjoyable stay at Hillside House thank you. We were extremely impressed with both the size of the interior and the very high specifications of the design and the fittings. the accommodation went way beyond our expectations." - (February 2016)
"Great house in a lovely rural location, very accommodating to our needs." - Sarah
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A big, beautiful landscape

In a big, beautiful landscape, climb high to Aira Force falls. Go back in time to the romantic ruins of Lowther Castle, or come right up to date with zorb football and sumo wrestling at Cumbrian Adventures. Kids can horse around at Happy Hooves Riding Centre or paint pots and discover tunnels at the Rheged Centre.