We’ve stayed in a lot of hotels since N was small and we started doing mini breaks. We tend to stay in hotels rather than guest houses or B&Bs because they’re a lot more likely to be easy to book online, we feel more comfortable relaxing back in the room during the day, and the facilities are often better.
Our latest stay was a bit of luxury at Low Wood Bay resort and spa. It ended up being more expensive than I anticipated (watch out for booking.com who seemed to charge me VAT on top, which meant my discount and more was lost), but for a one off 3 nights was worth it. Low Wood Bay is right on Lake Windermere between Bowness on Windermere and Ambleside. It wasn’t the walking distance to Bowness as I’d expected (unless you’re a bit of a hiker) but was only a short car journey to either place.
Low Wood Bay Hotel
Low Wood Bay is fair sized complex. The front of the building is right on the main road, with Lake Windermere and marina across a small lawn area which is accessible for hotel guests. The rear has the car park, the Winander Club building (more exclusive accommodation), and more rooms around a courtyard.
There are old fashioned touches like the lobby and reception area, but lots of white and modern spaciousness as you walk through. The walkway down from the car park is beautifully planted and has a lovely water features.
We were able do park and visit the pool before checking in properly at 3pm. The reception staff were really helpful with restaurant and bus information, and I loved that each of the staff members in the hotel we came across, remembered us and what we were heading off for, asking how our day had been etc. That’s the sign of good staff, especially in a hotel that’s a fair size.
The hotel has a comfortable large lounge area where there are books you can borrow, plus the bar area. Then there are is a healthy juice and snack bar Norman’s (amazing juices and smoothies), and 2 restaurants. The Big Blue Smoke which is mainly a grill restaurant, and The Windermere which is a normal hotel restaurant with either a set menu or a la carte. There is a children’s menu, but we weren’t that excited by either the set menu or kids one, so ate out for dinner instead.
We did have dessert one evening after eating out in Ambleside. N was hungry when we got back so I suggested dessert in the bar. I had a brownie from the children’s menu, while N had ice cream. Both were delicious, and having dessert from the children’s menu was a great idea, as it was just the right size for a bit of sweetness.
Our room was downstairs over looking the courtyard. I’m never too keen on ground floor rooms, but it did mean we didn’t have lots of stairs to climb and we could get out to the car straight out a side door rather than having to go up and down through reception. I’d booked a twin room, but we had what must have been a family room and was probably the best set up we’ve had. N was particularly pleased because he had his own ‘room’ on the ground floor with a single bed, tv, leather sofa, as well as the wardrobe and bathroom being in his room.
My room was upstairs, a bit like a mezzanine level. It meant N didn’t have to suffer my snoring, and I could watch tv or get on the laptop in the evening without disturbing him. I had a lovely big double bed to myself, and a tv. Bizarrely there was only 1 tv remote so we had to keep moving it up and down depending on who was watching what. Having the upstairs to myself was lovely but there wasn’t anywhere to put my suitcase so I left it downstairs where there was a cabinet to put it on. There wasn’t a comfy chair upstairs to watch tv either, so it was either sit working at the desk/dressing table, or on the bed. It was great to have the extra space though, and worked well for us.
The bathroom had a shower over the bath which was fine, and lovely spa bottles of toiletries that you were invited to take home. You also have various sachets to make hot drinks including hot chocolate in the room, and we were also left some Grasmere Gingerbread which was a nice treat. Bottled water is provided too – we went through quite a bit while we were there – living in a hard water area, N wasn’t a fan of the soft Lake District water!
Sam’s Club for kids
Low Wood Bay have Sam’s Club for children. In the rooms you get a Sam’s club bag with indoor hotel trail, colouring pencils, balloon and a passport – this suggests activities for your stay. If you do the activities you can get a stamp from reception, and do 3 out of 5, and you get a prize. N achieved it after only a day being there and was presented with a beach ball. There’s also a cute Sam dog on the bed which you can buy if your children want to take it home.
We also borrowed a game to play from Reception. They have a list of games you can choose from – always nice to take some family time to relax. N was convinced he’d beaten me at Monopoly. That’s because he hardly bought any properties and I bought everything in sight. If we’d had an extra hour, I’d have trounced him.
N loves hotel breakfasts. It means he gets to have a hot breakfast every day, he can serve himself, and he can often have several juices and fruit or yoghurt. Low Wood Bay’s breakfast got the thumbs up.
As most hotels, it has a large restaurant, and has a hot and cold breakfast buffet. They’ll bring you hot drinks, and there’s a few extra hot options like eggs florentine or benedict you can order for an added cost. There was plenty to choose from though.
N stuck with sausage, bacon (although he said it tasted different and not as nice as Granny’s so I don’t know if it was sweetcure, or smoked), scrambled eggs which were delicious, and toast. I mixed mine up more each day. I chose from a selection of cereals, scrambled eggs on toast, porridge, and yoghurt with fruits and nuts to top it off. We always arrived nearer the start of breakfast time – just before 8am – and it was never too busy.
The swimming pool and leisure club
As a resort and spa hotel, there’s a good leisure club. I’m not a spa person, but there were plenty of people walking in and out in bathrobes, so I’m presuming they were on spa days rather than always hotel residents. As guests we could use the facilities, and children were able to use the pool for most of the day, with splash time from 2-3. This did get busy although on the day we arrived, N was the only one in the pool and splash time didn’t seem to be on at that time.
On arrival in the leisure club, you’re given digital wristbands which are great – you use them to get through the secure doors and for the lockers. No need for coins and you can even check your locker number on the digital pad before you go into the changing rooms. There’s a glass back squash court – wish I’d taken my proper trainers and tried to teach N a bit – and a dance studio with spin bikes, weights and various other class equipment. We didn’t see any classes on while we were there, but there’s quite a few personal trainers working at the club so you can book in with them.
The pool is a good size, and there’s always 1 lane sectioned off. It’s the deepest hotel pool I’ve been in at the deep end, but there’s a little ‘warm’ pool area which N liked and the rest slopes to the deeper end. It was never over busy even during splashtime, although we didn’t always get one of the loungers,. There were always other chairs to sit on if needed. There are also a couple of saunas around the pool which were popular (over 16s only), and a jacuzzi which over 8s could go in. N was so excited to go in a jacuzzi for the first time.
Outside, only over 16s can go. The small infinity pool overlooks the lake (although it’s the side of the fairly busy road between the hotel and lake so I’m not sure how infinity it is, especially with trees there too), and a couple of spa pools. I popped out to see what it was like; they were all busy with lots of people drinking champagne in them. If you’re there on a quiet day with friends for the spa, I could imagine it being quite nice.
N liked the pool so much we went in each day we were there. There are ladies, mens and family changing rooms. The highlight for me was the costume spinner to dry it off after swimming. A great idea, and more places should have them!
Although Low Wood Bay wasn’t within (my) walking distance to Ambleside or Bowness, it was only a couple of miles away. The first evening we decided to get the bus to Ambleside. Buses go til reasonably late in the evening both directions. If you get the Bowness bus, it’s an open top double decker, and you’ll get the tour audio as you drive round. It’s a cheap tour option if you travel all the way along the route. Buses are all contactless too.
The best thing about the location is being right next to Lake Windermere. Just step outside the front of the hotel for a great view across the marina and lake. There’s even a hotel jetty on the marina where you can catch a water bus.
The Low Wood Bay watersports club is a short walk from the marina and here you can book on any sort of watersports. We enjoyed a walk along the lake a bit and had an ice cream. But N didn’t fancy trying any of the lessons. It was lovely and relaxing sitting at the edge of the lake.
The Lake District can be about lots of walking and activities, but it’s just as nice to relax and enjoy the countryside more peacefully.
Where do you like to visit in the Lakes?
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