Hipping Hall Hotel sits on a curious place at the meeting point of three counties. To the north is Cumbria, the county of the great lakes and meres, of Wordsworth and the Sublimity of nature. To the west is Lancashire, the historic red rose county and its jewel in the crown city of Lancaster not far away. And to the east are the Romantic and windswept Yorkshire moors, largely unchanged from their immortalisation in Wuthering Heights.
The Hotel itself is a charming country house set within leafy gardens. In keeping with the historic buildings of nearby Kirkby Lonsdale, the hotel has some wonderful features, from clean and sumptuous rooms to exposed beams and brickwork. Hipping Hall takes its name from the Hipping, or stepping, Stones that crossed Broken Beck, the little stream that runs past the hotel’s wash house. The stones allowed travellers across the road that has for a long time been an important passing, uniting the west coast of the north with Yorkshire’s most prominent cities. The dining hall still maintains stunning fifteenth century beams which are complemented by wonderful tapestries along the exposed stone walls. This room houses the wonderful restaurant where we would enjoy our evening meal.
If you weren’t charmed enough by the wonderful setting, the restraint itself is not to be missed. Locals know that this is a gastronomic hotspot that is surely knocking on the door of a Michelin Star, and visitors from further afield should certainly make the time to visit. The a la carte menu is full of fabulously crafted dishes but it is the seasonal tasting menu that really shines. At a very reasonable £65 for nine courses, diners can experience British food through an ultra modern lens. Knowing that the quality of the produce speaks for itself, young and innovative head chef Oli Martin is subtle in his approach, elevating each flavour without ever overpowering the base ingredients.
Our tasting menu was nine dishes, each beautifully plated and singing either seasonality. Standout dishes were the earth beetroot with creamy, tangy goat curd and an exquisite piece of guinea fowl served with a sourdough sauce. The wine pairings were also so well balanced – my favourite being a superb Veneto region Chianti which worked wonderfully with a dish is succulent, sweet lamb served with its own rich salty jus. With a great balance between boldness and innovation compared with a real respect for British cooking and the quality of ingredients, the restaurant is sure to keep growing and improving under the leadership of its new chef.
The hotel prides itself on a cosy homeliness, aiming to welcome every visitor like a houseguest. The ten rooms do not display their numbers on the door, keeping this notion of being entertained by a host running throughout. But make no mistake, this is certainly a luxury establishment. Our room, Four, had a beautiful garden view, a decadent pile carpet and lovely bathroom, not to mention a sumptuously comfortable bed, which we fell into after our glorious meal.
Upon awaking my partner and I both felt rather full from the night before, but knowing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day we decided on two very sensible and healthy choices – eggs royale and a full Lakeland breakfast! My secret judging technique of all hotels I visit is to see how well they can poach an egg, and my goodness can Hipping Hall do it to perfection. A wonderful runny egg with silky Hollandaise and salty salmon was all I needed to send me away from this fabulous hotel with a very contented smile and a yearning to return as soon as possible.
Cowan Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale LA6 2JJ