News, Culture & Society

Great British Boltholes: A review of the Lake District’s Forest Side Hotel

Great British Boltholes: There’s one way to get rid of the menace of grey squirrels – eat them in croquettes at the Lake District’s Forest Side Hotel

  • The Forest Side Hotel is located in the charming village of Grasmere 
  • It’s also home to Sarah Nelson’s world-famous Grasmere Gingerbread shop
  • The hotel’s chef shows solidarity with red squirrels, cooking their grey cousins 

William Wordsworth declared Grasmere ‘the loveliest spot that man hath ever found’. 

The landscape loved by the romantic poet sits at the heart of the Lake District National Park and is an impressive vista of fells.

The charming village is made up of slate stone buildings. It’s also where peckish tourists can find Sarah Nelson’s world-famous Grasmere Gingerbread shop. 

‘The loveliest spot man hath ever found’: The village of Grasmere pictured above

From here it is easy to locate two of Wordsworth’s homes, Dove Cottage and Allan Bank – the latter was also the home of National Trust co-founder Hardwicke Rawnsley.

Set back from Grasmere is the renovated Victorian mansion Forest Side. Tucked into woodland, it keeps a peaceful vigil over the ‘loveliest spot’. The winding approach to the hotel reveals a kitchen garden, where many of the fruit and vegetables used by the chefs are grown.

The building impresses, but does not impose. It is luxurious without fuss. 

Inside, there are modern and light bedrooms, a bar with a view, and a comfortable lounge with an open fire, where guests can drink before their Michelin-starred meal.

With floor-to-ceiling windows and oak floors, the dining room beckons the outdoors. So too does head chef Kevin Tickle, who served a grey squirrel croquette snack – in solidarity with the native, yet rare, red squirrels residing in the area.

Each bedroom, named after the trees planted in the grounds, is a flourish of subtle and elegantly artistic detail: think deep-pile carpets and intricately patterned wallpaper. 

Every room is beautifully designed – from the master suite to the cosier alternatives.

The beds offer deep comfort for tired and aching muscles after a day walking in the fells.

Cosy: The lounge at Forest Side Hotel with its button back armchairs

Cosy: The lounge at Forest Side Hotel with its button back armchairs 

And the room temperature is perfectly controlled by a high-tech heating system housed in the cellar. But fear not – there is still room there for the hotel’s wine collection, which features English fizz and an array of organic bottles.

The USP: The view. Large sash windows mean guests can’t help but sit and stare at nature.

The rooms: Twenty in three sizes: cosy, superb or master.

The food: The restaurant has a Michelin star, and at dinner there is the choice between The L’al ’Un (six courses at £80pp) or The Grand ’Un (ten courses at £105pp). Local ingredients help make up delights such as golden beetroot with cuckoo flower, smoked yow’s curd and puffy barley, ‘Jazzy Prawn’ and aged shorthorn rib.


The Forest Side Hotel, Grasmere, Cumbria. B&B room rates from £229 per room per night. For more information visit