Windermere, England

Photo: Gilpin Hotel & Lake House
Photo: Gilpin Hotel & Lake House

Do you feel like skipping Thanksgiving this year? After the recent election, it’s hard to feel celebratory or thankful as the holiday approaches. The only things you’re truly excited about are an extra-long weekend and a bit of a reprieve from the political commentary, courtesy of parades and football games. You don’t have to stick around to argue with your misguided relatives, though. You could escape—both your family and the country—for a few days.

If anyone can understand what you’re feeling right now, it’s the Brits. In June, the United Kingdom voted to withdraw from the European Union, leaving many in shock and disbelief. So they appreciate the therapeutic power of retreating to the countryside. Your sights are set on the Lake District National Park, one of the oldest national parks in England. It’s in Cumbria, part of North West England, where you’ll find the highest peaks and the largest natural lake in the country. It’s also home to quiet, hidden hotels.

You’re already breathing slower by the time you reach Gilpin Hotel. Its Georgian country house, built in 1901, is surrounded by elegant gardens and meandering paths. The moors and oak-filled woodlands border the property. While crystal-clear lakes and high fells (those are hills here) are beyond that.

Photo: Gilpin Hotel & Lake House
Photo: Gilpin Hotel & Lake House

Despite its historic charm on the outside, the interior of the hotel feels completely modern, though still homey. A cozy lounge has overstuffed couches and a crackling fire. The adjoining bar features bright red walls and sliding glass doors leading to the terrace. Plus two restaurants give you the choice between a Michelin-starred or Asian street-food dinner. It’s a good thing you’re staying more than one night.

But that’s just the main house. A separate annex contains garden suites, which each have their own cedar hot tub. Or new, detached spa lodges include a personal spa. There’s a rainmaker shower, a steam room, and a freestanding stone bath inside, plus a hydrotherapy hot tub and a sauna surrounded by stone walls outside. Organic spa products include a bamboo body polish and a chamomile face spritz. Even without the spa, the room is cozy. It’s outfitted with another fireplace, electric blinds, and soft fabrics. You choose a spa lodge, of course.

So this weekend, you’re thankful to sleep in late and add a bit of whiskey to your porridge with cream for breakfast. You’re thankful to go hiking in a quiet national park and walk along the edge of a peaceful lake. You’re thankful to sooth your achy muscles with a passion fruit body mask in your own steam room and drink a Pimm’s as the sun starts to set. You’re thankful to eat a three-course meal full of local specialities and try spicy dishes from other parts of the world. But you’re especially thankful to escape so much madness back home.


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