By Bert Yang
For most people, England is always thought of as London, and maybe at times, Stonehenge. But there is only so much truth in this, and the Lake District is a sight of its own to check out.
Chinese people often talk about the “qi fen”, or the entire atmosphere, when travelling to a specific place. When the right “qi fen” is met, the trip is literally taken to a new level. An ideal hotel and gorgeous scenic spots are fundamental to giving the trip the right “qi fen”.
The Waterhead Boutique Hotel and Dining (Ambleside) by Lake Windermere, is very much a place that gives you the right “qi fen” and brings you back to nature. Located just by the local lake, people feel close to nature, refreshing and relaxing when compared to the hectic lifestyle of a city in China or the UK. You can already see the lake from inside, so even on rather cooler days, you feel you are already “with nature” than separated from it by a building.
Modern and luxurious
The rooms are large, spacious and luxurious without needing to appear grandiose. To many a Chinese, they will feel like they want their bedroom or living room to be like this. I stayed in a more traditional building, where even the window appeared like it was more like a home, than a modern hotel. The view by the window was so pretty that you could “lose yourself” in nature whilst lying in bed. The bathroom was immaculate presented with quality toiletries, the beds were made up of Egyptian cotton.
The little touches that the Waterhead Boutique Hotel, provided, is what makes it stand out as one of the best in the Lake District. The hotel has over 40 types of gin available to try in the bar, and upon entering the room, we were greeted to complimentary bottles of Bedrock London, a premium local gin. Ice, an array of snacks and a selection of fruits were also carefully laid out, a perfect way to sit back, relax and settle in the room.
Gladdens the heart!
“Food is considered as important as heaven to the people,” goes a popular saying in Chinese. The award winning Bar and Grill restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel was most impressive to me and my partner. You can either choose to stay indoors, or go outside and dine “with nature”, seated with your feet in the grass and eyes on the lake. To quote it in another traditional Chinese saying, it “gladdens the heart and pleases the eye”. (My partner was the one who came out with this phrase first upon settling in!)
Apart from afternoon tea, which is a British tradition well known in China, the dinner menu itself shows elements of the local environment, with many dishes originating locally. Even things such as burgers use local ingredients. If anyone still tells you that the food in the UK is not that good, obviously the food here is a visible exception!
Harmony between nature and man
Harmony between nature and man is not only a catchphrase which has emerged in recent years in China; it is part of the Chinese way of thinking for thousands of years. This hotel, or as I would call it, “natural hotel”, fully considers nature. It is a pleasure to hear nature, “live”, when living here, and the hotel has taken much effort to keep nature close by. There is a great variety of vegetation planted and care for the birds, including installing bird boxes. The hotel is located in a place where interacting with nature is so close: my favourite is taking a cruise on the Lake Windermere, and maybe finishing it with a local stroll, either by the lakeside, or visiting a local town. As guests of the hotel, you can also get a 10% discount at the nearby watersports centre at Low Wood Bay. I would recommend that if you make it so far away from China, you might as well as choose to walk the one mile distance, and enjoy, even lose, yourself, in this world of pure nature.
Having taken in nature, both on the move, and in your phone’s camera, you will obviously want to share them with your friends at home, so that your WeChat moments fill up with likes and comments. I benefitted from the free wifi available at the hotel, and was able to have a lazy morning after a day of hiking — they allow people to check out until 11:00. They are also family friendly, always ready with surprises for the children, including a bag of gifts, and menus for the young ones.
One can only wish they stayed here longer, before you board a flight back to Beijing or Shanghai, where the lovely experience of a hotel by the lake in a quiet part of England is only a distant dream of the past.
For hotel information in the Lake District area, go to: englishlakes.co.uk