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Saturday, 23 August 2014

Prepare to fall in love with Aphrodite’s hotel

IF you think about the thousands upon thousands of hotel rooms there must be in the Lake District, there can’t be a more diverse and unusual collection under one roof than the one you will find at Aphrodite’s boutique hotel in Windermere.

Fancy living like Cleopatra for the night? Or James Bond? Or a Bedouin tribesman? Tarzan and Jane or the Flintstones? Rooms reflecting all that and more can be found at the former country house hotel.

It is all part of a unique package that attracts celebrity clientele – owner Will Howarth says two Premier League managers have stayed at the hotel in the past 12 months, while Coronation Street and Hollyoaks stars have also been known to visit.

When celebrities come, they tend to stay in the cabins in the grounds, which include Aphrodite’s log cabin, with private hot tub and log burning stove, and The American Western Pine Cabin, styled on a native American environment with many typical features, including a log-burning stove. Many of the rooms boast hot tubs and open log fires.

From hosting celebrities, the hotel itself is bound for stardom as it is set to feature in Channel Four’s Four in a Bed series, due to be screened in April.

For our short stay, my pregnant wife and I were in the Parisienne Chic suite – no 007-style shenanigans for me – which edged towards the more normal end of the scale but was just as welcoming. In fact, it could be one of the fanciest hotel rooms I have ever stayed in, boasting a sauna, two-person shower and a TV in the spa bath.

The room overlooked the colourful dancing fountain in the grounds.

There are no children or pets allowed at Aphrodite’s, so with our daughter, Isla, at home with Grandma, we set about embracing the cosmopolitan vibe.

After a dip in the well-appointed pool, which was developed around 18 months ago and features a sauna, a steam room, a relaxation pool and an exercise area, we had built up quite an appetite.

A snack menu is available throughout the day but no full evening meals. However, on arriving we were told that a meal could be booked at their sister hotel, the Windermere Boutique Hotel.

The service could not be faulted and the quality of our meal was excellent throughout. From my gorgeously creamy garlic mushrooms to Pam’s cannelloni, there was not a bum note in the meal, which was topped off for me by a glass of sprightly Cabernet Sauvignon.

The next day, breakfast was a relaxed, buffet-style affair – although a cooked option was available to order as well. The hotel’s food policy is to use local producers, with local farms providing bacon, sausages and eggs, local bakers providing bread and supporting local traders as much as possible.

Pam had booked a massage in the beauty treatment centre for later on in the morning.

Michelle and Nicola offer a wide range of treatments and Pam said her massage really relaxed her and she could feel the difference in her aching shoulders for days after.

You can book without being a resident in the hotel and spa days are available where you can use the leisure facilities and try out some of the wide range of rejuvenating and relaxing beauty treatments.

Will and his wife, Lynn, who have been in the trade for more than 30 years, bought the property 10 years ago and have tried to create something unique in the Lakes. Will told me: “We are in a unique position and the rooms always have high occupancy.”

Their experience shows – the standard of service at the hotel was faultless throughout our stay.

Situated on the edge of Windermere, the hotel is ideally placed for visitors to enjoy all that the area has to offer. One of the Lakes “honeypots”, Windermere gets busy, but it has a charm all of its own, with good shopping and a vibrant nightlife to enjoy – as well as being minutes away from the natural splendour and other attraction of the central Lake District.

It is also worth mentioning that the hotel has a strong environmental policy, with a biomass boiler which heats all the hot water using chips from Grizedale Forest.

It also uses renewable shared electricity (from Ecotricity), plus water harvesting system – water from the roof feeds the toilets.

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