Villa Fontelunga

The view from our home-away-from-home tucked into the rolling Tuscan hills was hypnotic. Before us, an olive grove flowed down the slope, the intermingled fruit and cypress trees creating a jigsaw of sun-softened green hues before reaching the Val de Chiana and its patchwork of meadows filled with late-summer sunflowers and hay bales. Across the valley, a full moon rose from the hills behind Cortona, the town’s twinkling early-evening lights the support show for the celestial display waiting to unfold. We expected nothing less really, the landscape was perfection.

Senses enlivened and views committed to memory (some settings just can’t be replicated on film), we joined fellow guests for a pre-dinner drink on the patio, the Aperol Spritz the perfect colour match for the last cast of peach emanating from Villa Fontelunga as the day’s light faded. Conversation flowed as cares evaporated, everyone happy to share tips on where to find the best off-the-tourist-radar, family-run restaurants known to showcase the region’s bounty, and which medieval villages have best ignored the march of time. Should you need touring or gastronomic guidance, the Fontelunga guide book, curated and added to by the owners over the years, will ensure every need and curiosity is catered to – restaurant-wise, Osteria della Lodola is one of their personal favourites. My advice – arrive sans plan, let the Fontelunga team guide you and give yourself time to explore.

Villa Fontelunga itself is one of the local treasures, and staying here allows you to become part of its story – which began nearly 20 years ago when Paolo Kastelec and Philip Robinson found the property, empty for over three years yet still majestic in its run-down state. For them it was love at first sight and they set about renovating the villa, the line between hotel and home blurring as the venture developed. Over time the project has grown, with two beautifully appointed, rosemary-surrounded, self-catering cottages – Villa Gallo and Villa Galletto – a short drive away. Designed to feel like a walled garden, these properties have been built using bricks salvaged from an old farmhouse that stood on the sites, a perfect example of Fontelunga’s ability to marry the old and the new. The pastel-palette within is instantly soothing; a dreamy England-meets-Tuscany style that here, in this setting, could not be more perfect. With a series of villas presently under construction, Paolo and Philip’s creative energy and enthusiasm will continue to ensure that authentic accommodation under the Tuscan sun remains available.

At a time when luxury is often affiliated with labels and anonymity, style can sometimes appear unvaried, yet at Villa Fontelunga this dynamic duo have followed their passions and created decor with a unique sense of vogue impossible to pigeon-hole. There’s obviously an art to being this creative though, of having the ability to combine the whimsically eclectic with the traditional to produce a setting that’s both liveable and luxurious, bravely individual yet fashionably sophisticated, and curated in a way that encourages guests to feel right at home. To add to the decadent homeliness of it too, Villa Fortelunga also hosts cooking classes and dinner parties, the women of the local village preparing authentic Italian fare you’ll find impossible to forget.

Whether you see it as a boutique retreat, Tuscan farmhouse, bed and breakfast or luxury hotel, everyone can find their “perfect spot” here. Then again, what else would you expect from the set designer behind iconic filmic work like Four Weddings & A Funeral, Mr Bean and Howard’s End.

Lounge areas have shelves lined with books, magazines and rolled blankets ready for those chillier evenings, and comfy cream sofas are bedecked with lime faux fur cushions and the hotel’s resident canines. Double doors opening to the outside reveal terracotta pots brimming with greenery, a resplendent garden, covered gazebo with atmospheric outdoor fire and soft seating, landscaped pool and jacuzzi (looking over the valley as the water bubbles away is surprisingly meditative) and a distant tennis court through the olive grove. Above the stairwell to the nine bedrooms, a Sistine Chapel-like fresco adorns the roof, the electric blues and cherubic, red-lipped women leading you to the boudoirs, each a one-of-a-kind celebration of precious minerals such as “Ametista” (Amethyst)  and “Tormalina” (Tourmaline). I was in “Oro” (Gold), the bedcovers, bedheads and curtains an opulent yet cosy expression of golden shades and perfectly offset by the white walls, terracotta floors and magical views from the double windows. This was a space I had no desire to leave. Here return visits are inevitable.

To find out more and book a room, click here.

Words & Photographs by Angela Terrell 

Rastoke, Croatia

Only half an hour from where the tourists gather at Plitvice Lakes National Park, is the little village of Rastoke. Peaceful, picturesque and nestled amongst the trees, you won’t find yourself tiptoeing around the crowds here.

Over thousands of years, cascades and waterfalls have been carved into the limestone landscape by the Sluničica River. As people settled in the area they built their grain-milling town using the water available around them. History is written on the walls here. Indeed, if you’re arriving from the coast or capital, you’ll likely drive through a number of abandoned villages and homes – all scarred by war, heartbreak and stillness.

Known for its authentic wood-shingled homes and cultural traditions, Rastoke is a place you come to relax after the bustle of Zagreb, the thrills of a Croatian coastal adventures, or the crowds that rightly flock to Split and Dubrovnik. You only need half a day here to soak it in and unwind – preferably in the afternoon so you can watch the town go about its day and settle in for a wonderful local dinner. Try the bread they still make with the local grains and river water – it’s been popular for over a hundred years.

These words and photographs are from Lis Dingjan, the founder of and photographer behind Nowhere & Everywhere, which merges travel and environmentalism. She has visited over 60 countries, actually likes green juices, jumps in every waterfall and thinks we could all spend a little more time on the open road.

Nimb Hotel

Words by Isabelle Hopewell

Synonymous with Hans Christian Anderson, pioneering design, retro flair, galleries to die for (Louisiana Museum of Modern Art springs to mind) and gastronomic haunts that change the way people understand food, Copenhagen is a city like no other. There is so much to lure you to this northern wonderland – and so many reasons to stay – yet a particular gem, a welcoming abode that offers old world luxury with character, is Nimb Hotel. Part fairy-tale, this is where you venture when seeking a decadently blissful Danish escape.

Found in the Tivoli Gardens (the world’s second oldest amusement park – and one hotel guests are given private access to), this domed, light-festooned hotel somehow manages to be simultaneously gallery-esque, vintage and playful. The palatial structure, built in 1909, comes to life the moment you step through its doors; the interiors combining soft lighting, antique furnishing and objet d’art, an abundance of rich wooden detailing, glittering chandeliers, bird motifs, natural tones and flower arrangements more akin to blooming works of art.

In the rooms – of which there are 38, some of which come with their own fireplaces (making a winter visit seem rather delicious) – the focus is on the minute. There are vintage cocktail cabinets filled with Alice in Wonderland-worthy jars of spirits, ornate writing desks and thriving house plants. My four poster bed was at least part cloud, while the tub, which I filled to the brim with bubbles, proved almost impossible to leave. Although, with dinner and drinks calling, I somehow found to will to depart this opulent, comforting space – an homage to the best of Scandi design. It’s worth noting too that spa treatments can be carried out in the bedrooms upon request. To learn more about The Nimb’s other wellness offerings click here.

Food is another area where The Nimb excels. There is an assortment of restaurants and bars on site, meaning all tastes can be catered for – whether it’s fine French fare, cocktails or afternoon teas complete with all the Danish staples that you hanker for. As it was summer, and everything was suitably relaxed, I made for Fru Nimb, renowned for its open sandwiches and view over the Tivoli Gardens – their summer herring, elderflower, horseradish and radish is a thing of beauty. Light-filled and glorious, this restaurant only opened in 2015 and is named for Louise Nimb – restauranteur extraordinaire of the 1800s. Vegetarians will delight in the creations of Gemyse while wine connoisseurs will fall for the wonders of Vinotek – the hotel’s wine cellar. Clearly in this charming, pioneering Copenhagen abode, there is something for everyone.

To find out more about the hotel – or indulge, escape and book a room – click here.

Mountain High

Words & Photographs by Betty Ried 

There’s something otherworldly about the snow-dusted, wildflower-adorned peaks of South Tyrol. Found in Italy’s far north, just shy of the Austrian border, South Tyrol is an area of staggering natural beauty, a place full of the unexpected, a melting pot of cultures, histories and landscapes – and yet, thankfully really, it remains largely unexplored. And, while there is pasta, wine and sun in abundance, you’ll also find dumplings, snow, alpine forests, breathtaking mountain passes and wooden refuges that feel worlds away from the villas of Tuscany or waterways of Venice. This is an entirely different Italy – a place of magic and wonder where travellers can embrace all things adventurous or simply unwind in a singular, spectacular setting.

While South Tyrol has long been synonymous with wintery escapades – it had 1,200 kilometres of ski slops after all – this alpine wonderland proves glorious year round. With 350 mountains over 3,000 metres, seven nature parks and what feels like only a handful of visitors, how could it not be? Here the setting – think chocolate box villages found amongst soaring, time-ravened peaks, the terrain a collage of greens and greys – comes with a rather liberating sense of space.

With each passing season South Tyrol has been adding attractions to its tourism programme. A cable car takes early-risers skywards to watch the summer sunrise, mountaincarts speed down winding dirt tracks and the Plose Looping will leave you equal parts exhilarated and euphoric. Thanks also to a collection of rustic mountain lodges scattered throughout the region, everything remains accessible; Rossalm will delight youngsters after a morning tramping along the ‘WoodyWalk’, while Maurerberg Lodge, which sits at 2157 metres, serves up typical Tyrollean dishes and views you can get utterly lost in. Here you will also find around 16,000 marked hiking trails, mountain bike routes, spa towns, healing waters and mountain lakes – like Caldaro, Dobbiaco and Carezza – that are among the warmest in the alps, making them ideal destinations for wild swimmers. It’s no surprise to discover that locals have long made a  habit of heading into the wild the moment work finishes. Spend a few days surrounded by such beauty and you’ll find that this local pride is infectious. 

My base for South Tyrollean exploration was the newly-opened My Arbor, a modern and open, nature-inspired boutique abode found on the mountains above Bressanone. Bathed in light, the design is elegant and innovative, full of earthy tones and organic textures that make the space feel like an extension of the surrounding forest. Rooms are expansive, the view impossible to ignore and forest bathing de rigueur – as is lounging by the pool, feeling kinks loosen in the spa, indulging in a restorative multi-course meal, or letting time slip away in a mediative massage. 

Best of all though, South Tyrol is home to the Italy’s most northerly wineries and, thanks in part to the cooler climes, their wines are clean, smooth and distinctive. Known more for their white varieties, entire days can be spent visiting wineries like Novacella, which is found in an old monastery and is famed as much for its library as its coveted tipples. But whatever draws you to this mountain-filled paradise – be it wine, calm or daring do – know that a few days here will leave you breathing deeper and thinking clearer and that you’ll depart utterly in awe of all South Tyrol has to offer.

To learn more about South Tyrol, click here.

Annapurna Mellor

We chat to Lodestars Anthology cover photographer Annapurna Mellor about the joys of photography and travel – to see more of her work be sure to check out our India magazine here

What drew you to photography?

I never studied photography and initially I fell into it. After I graduated from university, I felt quite lost in my life and decided to travel solo around Asia for a year. I first went to Nepal to hike the mountain I was named after, and then continued through India, South East Asia and Mongolia. I started with a small camera which I didn’t know how to use outside of Auto mode, and throughout that year got more and more into shooting. I learnt techniques from other travellers and the photos I was taking got better and better. I had a blog at the time and family and friends back home started telling me I should do it as a career. My dad is actually a travel photographer too, so I think I have a natural eye from him which is perhaps how my images developed very quickly at the beginning. I loved the idea of being able to have a job where I could travel and tell stories of people and places around the world. Finding the incredible work of photographers like Steve McCurry and Alison Wright just inspired me even more. Of course, over the few years since then I have found out that this is a very hard career to make money from, and it isn’t just all about travelling and taking photos, but my love and passion for image making has always carried me through.

How would you describe your style?

I describe myself as a travel photographer because while I shoot a mixture of portraits, street photography and landscapes, I am always trying to portray a sense of place through my images. I want people to look at my photographs and feel like they are in a place; meeting the people,
walking the streets. My work definitely has a documentary angle, as I’ve always been drawn to cultures when I travel and I love capturing people and telling their stories.

Has your style changed over time?

Yes, to a degree. I only started taking photographs around four years ago and I found very quickly that I mostly connected to photographing people and that is also what my audience responded to. Quickly my portraits have become what I am known for, and they are still my favourite thing to shoot. Overtime, my style has definitely become more refined and I think my skills as a storyteller have improved. In the beginning, I was just shooting things which I thought were beautiful, without much regard for how the images fitted together and how they might make a story. Now it’s one of the main things I think about when I’m shooting.

Has there been a particularly memorable shoot?

I’ve had some amazing opportunities to shoot beautiful places and people all over the world, and different shoots stand out for different reasons. My first big magazine assignment (for National Geographic Traveller) was along the English/Scottish Borders. It was a location totally different for me, and after having spent a few years living in Asia building my portfolio, I was nervous if I could capture the UK in a way which still felt like my style. I took my sister with me as my driver/model and we spent four days driving along the border. It rained constantly, we had to sleep in an unheated barn one night (in early February) due to a lack of any budget, and we ended up in a lot of locations I was supposed to shoot thinking ‘is this it?’. It was a really tough shoot but in the end I think I captured some images which really celebrated the beauty of the place, and it made me realise that sometimes challenging shoots end up being the most rewarding.

You’ve travelled the world taking photographs, do you have a favourite location or subject?

India is my favourite place both to travel and to take photographs. I feel a very strong connection with the country and when I’m there I feel very at home. As a photographer, it’s a paradise. The colours, the faces, the festivals and spirituality. I feel like I could spend a lifetime photographing India and there would still be more to see, more to capture.

Can you tell us about capturing the Lodestars Anthology India cover image?

That photograph was taken at the Pushkar Lake in Pushkar, Rajasthan a few years ago during my second trip to the country. Pushkar is a gorgeous little town between Jaipur and Jodhpur, and I spent almost a month there over the annual Camel Fair, capturing local herders and families on the dunes.

Some days, I would take time off and sit around the lake where it was very peaceful and quiet. Most of the lake is for pilgrims, who bathe in the holy waters, which are said to be tears of Lord Shiva. I was sat on the opposite side one day when all these women in vibrant dress walked past. I loved the contrast of their bright clothes with the white background of Pushkar town and the lake. Little unexpected moments of magic like this often happen in India.

You also run ROAM magazine, can you tell us about this project?

I started ROAM two years ago with my sister Athena. I felt like there was a lack of a platform which focused on storytelling and cultures, and too much travel media was becoming about the traveller not about the place. I wanted to change the conversation about travel, and create a platform to celebrate the work of travellers who seek out deeper cultural connections and off the beaten track places.

We publish photo essays, stories, interviews, guides and features from all over the world. We aim to delve into places a little more off the beaten track, or to highlight cultures you may never have come across. Imagery is a huge focus for us, and we love finding beautiful photography to illustrate the magazine with. We are contributor based, and have published stories from amazing photographers, writers and creatives from around the world. Our aim is eventually to make ROAM into a physical magazine, full of stories and beautiful photography.

What advise do you have for someone looking to begin a photography career?

Firstly, this is a really hard and unpredictable profession and you really need to love it with all your heart to want to pursue it as a career. If you do, then I think it’s really important to develop your own style and unique way of telling stories. This is what will make you stand out from everyone else.

To find out more, take a look at ROAM magazine.

Canoe North Adventures

It feels like a lifetime ago that we created our Canada magazine, but certain memories remain gloriously vivid. Travelling along the Keele River in the Northwest Territories with Canoe North Adventures was an utterly life-changing experience. Not only was it one of those rare chances to venture somewhere truly wild – the sort of place you might assume was impossible to find in our modern world – but it allowed me to meet the most astounding people, hear their stories and physically push myself in the most liberating way. It’s been two years since I ventured north … I think I’m due a return journey.

When travelling through some of the globe’s more remote locations you’re likely to have a moment of clarity. Miles from normality, you feel like you’ve found another world, a place where only your immediate reality matters. For me this happened on the Keele River in the Sahtu Region of the Northwest Territories. I’d been paddling in the bow of a canoe for ten days when, late on a sunny summer evening, the water around me became a reflected mass of rose gold clouds, the perfect mirror of the sky above. With no discernible horizon, it was as if I was travelling through a
dreamscape where down was up and up was down; the surreal setting a reminder that in this world there is true, untameable beauty. And to uncover it, I’d recommend travelling north.

Along the Keele River you’ll encounter the kind of landscape they envisioned when they first thought of the sublime. It’s a setting that makes you feel small, dwarfed by the surroundings. There are mountains chiselled away by wind and rain, the last patches of summer snow clinging to their peaks, and marbled cliff faces seemingly painted into the scene. But rather than feeling overwhelmed, you’re honoured. It is difficult to find something so majestic, so much bigger than yourself. And here it is, not all that far from the Arctic Circle, a region where many landmarks
remain nameless and a canoe is the most desirable form of transportation.

Copes of our Canada magazine are still available to buy here.



Seattle to the Cascades

City Life

According to locals, Seattle doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is remarkable really when you consider it’s perfect mix of nature and urban sophistication. This is an exciting and unpretentious city where you can feast on the spectacularly fresh bounty of the Pacific northwest, be passionate about coffee at Starbucks Reserve Roastery watching coffee mixologists work their magic, awe over Dreamliner production in the world’s largest building at Boeing, chat with producers and artisans at the historic Pike Place Market, admire excitingly curated artworks at the Seattle Art Museum (the building itself a masterpiece), take a day hike through Washington State’s evergreen beauty, explore ways to tackle some of the world’s problems at Bill and Melinda Gates Discovery Centre, spot one of the 75 resident killer whales on a whale watching tour around the San Juan Islands or merely gather and chat at any one of the swanky bars showcasing the best of regional creations.

A Savour Seattle Booze’n Bites tour helps you navigate the myriad choices in this food-centric city which, despite being settled by Methodist teetotallers and once boasting a pontoon in the middle of Puget Sound for clandestine drinking, has a refreshing ‘anything-goes’ attitude. Starting with ginger beer and whisky at Rachel’s, there are blood-orange margaritas with jalapeño infused salt served with slow-roasted sirloin tip tacos to try at San Patricio, vodka and triplesec lemongrass martinis paired with shrimp roll at The Martini Bar, Diller Daiquiris with a hint of cinnamon infused lime juice (slight lightheadedness eased with the accompanying Mufaletta  sandwiches) at The Diller Bar and finally Kilt Lifter beer and pretzels made from brewing by-products at Pike Brewing Co.

Friendly, artistic, dynamic and surrounded by magnificent landscape, a Seattle sojourn should be a definite on your wandering wish-list.

Further Afield 

Everybody loves the chance to unplug and get up close and personal with the real outdoors, the pristine wildernesses where seasons can change every hour and hiking trails meander through an alpine wonderland, but it’s the chance to combine this with a perfect road trip that makes it the ideal release from the madding world.

The Cascade Loop north of Seattle is a wonderful drive taking you from Puget Sound’s glistening waters, through a patchwork of fruit trees growing on Colombia River’s rich river flats (roadside stalls offering the best of their freshly picked sweetness), past Methow Valley farmlands and into charming towns like the Wild West-restored Winthrop (where a round of putt-putt and an ice-cream is perfect after a day of hiking, kayaking or fishing) and Leavenworth, whose Bavarian themed buildings sit perfectly below surrounding snow-capped mountains. Eventually you reach North Cascades National Park, whose beauty is astonishing despite it being remarkably lesser known than other parks.

Less than three hours from Seattle, it contains over 200,000 acres of old growth forest, 500 lakes and ponds, 300 glaciers, endless waterfalls which cascade down mountains even in the height of summer and a multitude of hiking trails. Everywhere the views are magnificent and the names evocative; Diablo Lake, Thunder Knob, Pyramid Peak, Rainy Lake, Cutthroat Lake, Liberty Bell, but if you really feel a vertical challenge is in order, take the Hart’s Pass Rd, rated one of the world’s most dangerous, and enjoy views into the heart of the North Cascades at Slate Peak Lookout.

This area is magical, the real-time panoramas better than any technological imagery available, and after a few days of hiking I thought I’d seen it all. My last night revealed yet another treasure though as the waxing moon and setting sun sat in the sky together, the scattered clouds over blue skies releasing gossamer raindrops that glowed golden in the sun’s rays, every season appearing to hint of its existence at the same time. Life’s natural bounty really.

Words & photographs by Angela Terrell 

The India Magazine

Our India magazine is now available through our online store (you can nab a copy here) and will be with stockists in the next few days (UK) and weeks (rest of the world we’re afraid).

In the mean time, here is a sneak peak of the new issue, featuring the Editor’s Letter from Liz and the images of a few of our contributors. Embrace the wanderlust!

Creating these magazines is joyous, a chance to see the world in extraordinary detail and share the work of contributors driven by awe, curiosity and a need to create. The process is both inspiring and unpredictable, with each issue taking on a life of its own, but I can’t think of any as delightfully eccentric or lively as India.

Or as demanding for that matter – for how do you capture a country this diverse? I considered producing two magazines – North and South – or focusing on a single state, yet ultimately decided not to meddle with the Lodestars’ status quo. We would, as always, offer vignettes, snapshots of India’s attractions, culture and communities, its myriad of ever-shifting personalities. For even if our focus had been narrowed, you simply can’t do India’s immensity justice.

Understandably, selecting this issue’s featured locations proved challenging. Our best hope was to offer a geographical spread, a window into worlds which, whilst they might seem remote, are still kith and kin to Mother India. But I also made some personal choices. For me it was vital that Darjeeling be featured. The gateway to the Himalayas, this is an India far removed from the sun-baked Rajasthan I’d explored – a place where great snows fall and time seems to slow. My grandfather, Alan, spent his childhood in Darjeeling, on Nagri Farm, a working tea plantation to this day, where he remained until Partition, a time of heartbreak and violence seared into his memory yet rarely discussed. You can only imagine the horror and pain this period caused for Indians. Alan had grown up looking at the mountains, too young to be aware of the political and social ramifications of his family’s presence, yet absolutely alive to the magnificence of the world around him.

I wasn’t sure how appropriate it was to share this story, especially when on the ground, but what’s surprising about India is how open everyone is when it comes to discussing history and how willing people are to share their stories and listen to those of others.

This country is generous to travellers. It is bewitching, tumultuous, electrifying, maddening and addictive. You will adore or despair of it, whatever emotion it draws out guaranteed to be extreme. Travelling here you nd that life’s nuances, its highs and lows, are on full display. There will be moments when it all feels too much, when your mind yearns for calm, but then you’ll see something that takes your breath away. India will sweep you up, envelop you, and leave you enraptured. Then you depart and all those experiences seem like a distant dream, so at odds with the ordinariness of your everyday. People ask me what I thought of India and I have to take a moment to remind myself I was even there. And then it all comes flooding back.

Alive as it is, this issue is slightly different. We’ve published something particularly photo-heavy; a magazine that will take you on a journey you feel rather than understand – one I hope allows you to respond to its pages the way you would to scenes on the ground. You’ll find within images of Holi in Varanasi, a lesser-known Goa, reclaimed fortresses, architectural marvels, beaches by the Arabian Sea, cosmopolitan madness, rural artisans, temple-dotted mountains and wilderness.

I feel even now, trying to describe a magazine that describes an impossible country, I’m failing somewhat, because India is beyond words. It is changing, harrowing, rousing, radiant and unparalleled. It is all things at once – constantly, unendingly – and more than I could ever say.


Songlines of the Here + Now

Words & Photographs by Tanya Houghton

Songlines; ancient Aboriginal maps passed on through song, story or dance. When sung, they describe landmarks along a journey, enabling the user to navigate their way across vast distances of the Australian landscape. In doing so, they keep the sacred land alive.

I have always been in awe of the vast range of ancient landscapes within Australia and the comparisons between stories of the past and the present, the indigenous and the modern and the connections formed to those landscapes. It was upon learning about Aboriginal Songlines that the idea to take on a project going walkabout alone across the Australian landscape was affirmed.

Over the course of the summer, I set off to explore the deep-rooted connections of Australians’ to the landscape they call home. Weaving my way across the country, I spent five weeks working out of a make shift studio in the back of my car and spent my nights camping in a tent, in the country’s national parks.

Covering a total of 10,500 km, I collected scattered stories and imprinted memories strewn over the landscape. I gained a deeper understanding of the Country’s past and of the Aboriginals’ deep-rooted connection to the land that has been their home for thousands of years. What emerged were two conflicting devotions to the Landscape. That of the Aboriginals’ sacred connection and that of the newer generations commercialisation of space through modern land tourism. Despite the tenuous past of the nation, there is a shared love of the land, both past and present.

Giving no weight to any one persons, physical representations of individuals I encountered were removed. The stories that were shared are represented through the landscape in which they were created. The resulting body of work is a collection of landscapes and still-lifes, stories and natural interventions that explore human experience through listening to the language of the Australian landscape.

Songlines of the Here+Now, will be exhibited at The Argentea Gallery in Birmingham 13th September – 27th October 2018. To learn more about Tanya’s work, click here

Another Place, The Lake

Words & Photographs by Renae Smith

Around 20 minutes after leaving the train station I felt our taxi turn down a long driveway. My husband and I were in the heart of the Lake District and my eyes were instantly drawn to the blue waters of Ullswater – until we came to a complete stop in front of the doors to Another Place, The Lake.

With a few guests to check in before us we took a seat, admiring the central part of the original Georgian house. We’d passed by a collection of wellington boots by the entrance, ranging in size and shades of mud, and I spotted a bundle of wood in the corner of the library room, hinting at the presence of a fireplace, and a restaurant off to the right. As couples, a young family and dogs filtered through, it felt less like the reception area of a hotel and more like a large family house full of warmth and charm.

A smiling face caught my eye from behind the reception desk and as we were shown to our room in the hotel’s new extension, passing the Living Space and a casual restaurant/bar area and terrace, followed by the pool, sauna and treatment rooms. With the team from the Watergate Bay Hotel behind its creation, there are significant similarities in design and overall feel throughout – however, its place amongst the vast national parkland on the second largest lake in England ensures Another Place, The Lake stands on its own.

I lingered by the entrance to the indoor pool, struck by the view through the wall to ceiling windows. With a complete rundown of the hotel facilities and outdoor activities – from canoeing and paddle boarding, to tramping along the area’s many trails – I could foresee the challenge of indecision about what to do beyond the itinerary we had already booked in. Why do holidays never come with quite enough time?!

Our room was light and welcoming, with a view out over the lake and on to the snow-capped mountains in the distance (it had been an unseasonably long winter). I opened the balcony door and welcomed the crisp air into my lungs, the weight of the city now far behind me.

The next morning, the cloud that had rolled in over the lake in the early hours having long since burnt off, we went for breakfast at the Rampsbeck Restaurant, and it felt like the sun and the blue skies were competing for brightness.

As my husband had a paddle boarding lesson arranged, I opted for indulgence and made my way towards the treatment rooms for a pedicure. Although, having passed the Library with the sun streaming in, the thought of grabbing a book and curling up on one of the couches in front of the fire for the day certainly appealed.

With my feet thoroughly pampered I was tempted to give in to my relaxed state and head back to the room as I still had some time before my husband was to return, but then I remembered the three-course dinner we had planned that evening, so instead grabbed a map and selected a hiking trail. The map had a great selection of walks ranging in length and difficulty, but with limited time I decided on a short amble, saving a longer trek for the both of us to do the next day.

On my walk back to the hotel I spotted my husband’s paddle boarding group out on the water and decided to watch them come in from the terrace while I enjoyed something to eat from the Living Space menu. I felt deliciously calm and thought about when we would return; it was easy to imagine spending many types of holidays here throughout the year, each of the season’s offering up a different backdrop and range of adventrues.

Whatever the reason for making a trip to Another Place, The Lakes, you are assured of a view that will overtake the desire to curl back under the covers, no matter the weather.