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The Punch Bowl, Crosthwaite, Lake District
Despite being in the less popular south-eastern fringes of the Lake District, this inn has a keen following, largely due to its food. Once you step inside the long and low cream-washed building, part of it formerly a blacksmith's, it's clear that food - awarded two AA rosettes for its Modern British style - is central. The low-beamed, slate-flagged ground floor houses a series of eating areas, both formal and relaxed, and all charming with their rustic style. Bedrooms also charm in contemporary-country style with soft colours, pretty fabrics, tongue-and-groove panelling and roll-top baths. Guests can take walks from the doorstep or drive the 30 minutes to explore Windermere, then return to pre-dinner drinks on the terrace.
A lovely local walk takes you up the little-visited Whitbarrow Scar with terrific views over Morecambe Bay.
By car: around 1 hour 30 minutes from Manchester, 3 hours 15 minutes from Nottingham and 5 hours from London. Free parking on site.
By train: there are direct lines to Oxenholme Lake District Station from Glasgow Central (1 hour 45 minutes) and London Euston (3 hours). The hotel is around a 20-minute drive from Oxenholme Station. thetrainline.com
Style & Character
Food and wine-lovers will feel at home here, as will those who like to be within reach of the Lake District's beauty spots, but not amongst the crowds. We love having a choice of eating areas: the smart dining-room with white cloths and candles, the cosy snug by the bar, or the more casual spot by the wood-burning stove.
Service & Facilities
Without question, the complimentary tea and homemade scones with jam and cream are a great welcome, and available no matter what time you arrive.
- Wheelchair accessible
- Free Wi-Fi
- Free parking
The bathrooms feature tongue-and-groove panelling, separate shower and roll-top bath, plus many have natural light. Our favourite room is Peake - it may be one of the smallest, but it's very pretty in pale grey and silver and, with two windows, lovely views when you wake.
Noble, Danson, Hebblewhite, Whitlock, Cooper, Birkett, Heelis, Peake, Strickland
Facilities include: ensuite bathroom with power shower and roll top bath, TV, free Wi-Fi
Food & Drink
Depending on your mood, you can choose where to eat: one of the smaller alcoves in the candle-lit dining room for a romantic dinner, the bar or the tables around the woodburning stove for something more lively. It's imperative that you leave room for pudding; anything with made with the local damsons - perhaps a tangy lemon tart - gets a big tick.
Restaurant: two AA Rosettes. Modern British cuisine, locally-sourced produce. Open for lunch and dinner. Diner mains from £17.50.