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Great British boltholes: A review of Farlam Hall hotel in Cumbria

A great British bolthole so good, the guests bought it! Farlam Hall in Cumbria is owned by a couple who were regulars for over 30 years

  • Farlam Hall was sold to a couple who were regulars – who then let another regular-guest couple run it
  • It dates from the early 19th Century and has ‘space and grace’ with calm decor in creams and blues 
  • Train fans will enjoy the fact that Stephenson’s Rocket was given a test run in Farlam’s grounds in 1829 

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In the 1970s, when the Lake District’s Sharrow Bay was the most famous country house hotel in Britain, owner and chef Francis Coulson was asked where he went to eat when he had a night off. He said Farlam Hall.

That chef’s kiss of a mention put this hotel near Carlisle on the culinary map for the next three decades. Last year, Farlam Hall was sold to an American couple – regular guests for more than 30 years. 

Their estate agent, an unlikely hero, then introduced them to a couple who had tried to buy Farlam a few years earlier. Now Peter and Bb Hall manage it for the new owners.

Space and grace: Last year, Farlam Hall was sold to an American couple – regular guests for more than 30 years

'There¿s a definite serenity to this ivy-clad mansion,' writes Sarah, 'with small streams and glades in the grounds and sheep-dotted landscapes and dense woodlands beyond'

‘There’s a definite serenity to this ivy-clad mansion,’ writes Sarah, ‘with small streams and glades in the grounds and sheep-dotted landscapes and dense woodlands beyond’

North of the Lake District and close to Scotland, this unbranded bit of Cumbria comes with the slightly rakish history all good borderlands have. 

But arrive at Farlam and there’s a definite serenity to this ivy-clad mansion, with small streams and glades in the grounds and sheep-dotted landscapes and dense woodlands beyond.

Farlam Hall dates from the early 19th Century and has space and grace. Guests dine in the high-ceilinged, recently revived restaurant overlooking an ornamental lake and cedar tree. 

One of the oldest UK members of the Relais & Chateaux group, it’s still seriously foodie but in a non-showy way. You won’t find foaming and flaming here, although new chef Steven Pott has a cluster of AA rosettes to his name.

Farlam Hall is one of the oldest members of the Relais & Chateaux group

Farlam Hall is one of the oldest members of the Relais & Chateaux group

In the 1970s, when the Lake District¿s Sharrow Bay was the most famous country house hotel in Britain, owner and chef Francis Coulson was asked where he went to eat when he had a night off. He said Farlam Hall

 In the 1970s, when the Lake District’s Sharrow Bay was the most famous country house hotel in Britain, owner and chef Francis Coulson was asked where he went to eat when he had a night off. He said Farlam Hall

A kitchen garden was put in place during lockdown, keeping up with trends for local sourcing and uncluttered flavours

A kitchen garden was put in place during lockdown, keeping up with trends for local sourcing and uncluttered flavours 

Lockdown saw some gentle but effective updating in the rooms, explains Sarah, with new showers and calmer decor in creams and blues plus deep carpets and wi-fi

Lockdown saw some gentle but effective updating in the rooms, explains Sarah, with new showers and calmer decor in creams and blues plus deep carpets and wi-fi

The USP: This is a country house hotel that doesn’t want to reinvent the experience. Walkers can build up a good appetite – Hadrian’s Wall is nearby – while train fans will enjoy the fact that Stephenson’s Rocket was given a test run in Farlam’s grounds in 1829.

The rooms: Lockdown saw some gentle but effective updating, with new showers and calmer decor in creams and blues plus deep carpets and wi-fi. The old stable blocks are being converted to bring the number of rooms up to 19. With direct access to the gardens, they’ll be family and dog-friendly.

The food: A kitchen garden was put in place during lockdown, keeping up with trends for local sourcing and uncluttered flavours. The menu includes locally caught game but also vegetarian and gluten-free options. Breakfast was superb, with proper Cumberland sausages. 

TRAVEL FACTS 

Farlam Hall, Cumbria. B&B from £169 a night. For more information visit farlamhall.co.uk.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk