Ravenstone Manor has plenty to rave about
Last updated at 17:04, Friday, 15 February 2013
OFFERING lake views and gourmet food, Ravenstone Manor makes the ideal base from which to explore Keswick, as FRASER ROBERTSON discovered.
RAVENSTONE Manor sits at the base of Skiddaw and is steeped in history.
Overlooking Bassenthwaite Lake, the 18th century manor house has connections to Greystoke (where the Tarzan story originated) and nestles into the hillside.
Now under the stewardship of Cherin and Kim Marmon-Saxe and Adam and Tina Saxe, the hotel is a welcoming haven, ideal as a base for exploring the fells or the myriad of activities and attractions in the Keswick area.
Indeed, the owners have strived and succeeded since taking over in November 2011 to offer a hotel with the intimate and comfortable personality of a B&B.
From the second myself and my family – wife Pam and daughters Isla and Aisling – arrived, nothing was too much trouble.
A travel cot was swiftly brought to our room and we set about settling in to our spacious family accommodation.
Our room had a stunning view over the lake and fitted us all and our million bags comfortably.
Hungry after a busy day, we had heard good things about the food at Ravenstone and were really looking forward to our meal. While there was plenty to tempt Pam and I, Isla wasn’t sure but she had no cause to worry.
She was asked what she would like (“tuna pasta”) and told it would be no problem. That and her Peppa Pig plate made her feel right at home.
Chef Chris Bridge obviously knows his stuff and we were delighted with our meal. My garlic mussels with prawns and potato was sublime and my main course of pheasant with orange was astounding – a real eye opener of a dish. Pheasant can tend to be dry of not prepared properly but this was succulent and tasty.
Quality dining is patently a major strength of the hotel and something the owners are keen to maintain and develop. Cherin told me: “We wanted to raise the food a couple of levels. Chris puts a different spin on traditional dishes.”
Kim added: “We’re working very hard to make it a happy marriage between fine dining and wholesome local food.”
The menu is changed every three/four weeks and specials change every night. Another focus is making the menu as friendly as possible for guests with special dietary requirements.
Cherin is gluten intolerant and is passionate about offering an inclusive menu, with 90 per cent of the menu being celiac friendly. There are gluten-free options for both breakfast and dinner on a daily basis.
After as good a night’s sleep as we’d had in a while, breakfast was made to order and included full English and vegetarian options, really setting us up to check out what else Keswick had to offer (see right).
The hotel has been under its new management for just over a year and they say it has been a hectic year for them all. What comes across straight away, however, is the care and attention paid to making sure every guest has a fantastic time.
A major refurbishment programme is nearing completion following a grant from Cumbria Tourism.
The hotel has a mixture of rooms, from a classic four-poster room and an elegant four-poster spa room to Osprey rooms with a more contemporary feel. Kim told me what was important to them was “keeping the tradition but also trying to upgrade the areas that are out of date. We want people to feel comfortable and do what they want.”
Kim and Cherin had been looking for a B&B to run in the area and looked at 10 or 11 different places before falling in love with Ravenstone.
It was “perfect and ticked all the boxes” and they set about making a Ravenstone a “home, not a hotel.”
The manor was built in 1769 by the Second Earl of Penrith as the dower house for Lady Charlotte Howard of Greystoke Castle. At one time the family was the biggest land owner in the parish and the grounds reached all the way to the lake.
Individual atmosphere seeps from every corner – starting with the ravens at the bottom of the main staircase, everywhere you turn there is a feature or item of interest.
The spacious guest lounge and cosy bar are full of character and wonderful rooms to relax – and the games room contained a full-size snooker table and table tennis table.
Another interesting feature of the hotel is its spring water, which is carbonated on the premises to drink, and is also said to be very good for the skin.
Kim said repeat guests were very important: “The character of the house brings them back each time. There was a responsibility on us as owners that these repeat guests carried on and I think we’ve been very fortunate that that has been the case. We’ve managed to retain the client base and grow it.”
First published at 17:03, Friday, 15 February 2013
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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