WHERE TO STAY
The 4* Beech Hill Hotel and Spa which is set on the eastern bank of Windermere, offers dramatic views across the lake to the Western Fells and is nothing short of breathtaking. If you're looking for a place with old school charm, friendly staff and top notch facilities then this is the place for you. Travel by car though if you can as the nearest town, Bowness, is about 10-15 minutes away by taxi. B&B flexible rates range from £75.90 to £349.80 per room per night.
The hotel has a newly refurbished Lakeview Spa, which is unique in that whether you're in the indoor pool or the vitality spa pool you have unrivalled views of Windermere and the snow capped ranges beyond. Inside, there are two treatment rooms, a sauna, a steam room, an outside vitality spa and a 40ft indoor pool. Go for a dip in the hot tub and you'll feel like an A-lister!
WHAT TO DO
For a real feel for the lake, get yourself out on it! Windermere Lake Cruises offer cruises from 45 minutes to three hours, or you can spend all day on and around the lake with the Freedom of the Lake ticket (£19.50 for adults).
We took the yellow cruise (£11) which meant we could sail from Bowness to Lakeside or vice versa.
If you'd rather discover the beauty and tranquility of Windermere at your own pace, you can hire one of the powered motorboat or rowing boats from the wooden huts to the right of Bowness promenade. There are two kinds of motorboat - the open traditional type with a tiller to steer, and cabin boats with sliding cabin roofs and steering wheels. They cost £25 for an hour and hold up to six people.
You can also hire bikes and travel by land around the lake from Country Lanes Lake District Cycle Hire Centre. There's a great 12km circular cycle route that explores the surrounding countryside of the Windermere and Bowness area. Mountain bikes cost £23 for daily hire.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Burlington's, the restaurant at Beech Hill Hotel & Spa (see above) specialises in French and English cuisine, while offering fabulous views of the lake. They offer two (£26.95), three (£34.95), or five (£39.95) courses - and the crème brulee with citrus shortbread is a must! You can also enjoy drinks on the terrace afterwards to really soak up the atmosphere.
While you're out and about in the day, Choccobar in Bowness is the perfect place to stop off for some deliciously sweet Spanish churros. The hot chocolate is to die for so it's no surprise the place is rated number one on TripAdvisor.
Direct trains run to Windermere and Kendal along the branch line from Oxenholme, which links up with the mainline services on the west coast serving London and Euston. The nearest train station to Lake Windermere is Oxenholme Rail Station. Cheapest single fares from London Euston start at around £46 via National Rail.
You can also travel to Lake Windermere by car – the M6 runs just to the east of the Lake District. From London, this takes five to six hours.