Story of the Forest Side Hotel & Restaurant
Built in typical Lake District slate and stone this Victorian mansion had been a splendid place in its time. Although the building was dilapidated and the garden wild and overgrown, it was clearly full of potential. Our aim was to give our guests the chance of experiencing the luxurious life-style enjoyed by its Victorian owners but with the benefits of twenty-first century comforts such as pressurised hot water, central heating and of course more than just a little interior design.
Having acquired the Grasmere based property in July 2014, the next step was to appoint an architect, get some plans drawn up and submit them to the local authority. Clearly the kitchen with its old quarry-tiled floors had to be refitted and equipped with all the modern gadgets needed to produce top level food. The well-proportioned reception rooms with their original fireplaces seemed to require little apart from re-decorating and re-furnishing. However, the many small bedrooms that had been partitioned and split up, needed to be returned to their original size and glory.
Demolition & Clearance
Before the exciting part could begin the original structure of the building had to be taken back to its bare bones. Partitions were ripped out, institutional-looking windows removed, and the ugly fire-escape taken down. Outside the rhododendrons were slashed and burnt, revealing the Victorian layout of the garden. The original red-bricked walled garden clearly had bags of potential and we discovered many hidden features such as the waterfall and ornamental stone circle, made of petrified limestone.
The old windows were replaced with more ones more appropriate to the building’s Victorian origins. Over 80 beautiful double glazed sash windows were made and lifted into position. Not an easy operation!
Conversion Of The Attics
The poky servant’s quarters on the second floor were transformed into spacious rooms with amazing views of the fells. This was achieved by raising the roof line and adding a staircase internally from the first to second floor. Whilst doing so we also installed a roof light to create wonderful sense of space, bathed in natural light. The look is completed with a magnificent period lantern, lighting up the reception and staircase.
A new stone terrace using materials sourced locally forms an extension to the dining room, letting in plenty of light and creating a superb modern dining space, perfect for Paul Leonard’s cuisine.
The old floor has been replaced with wide oak boards. The old wooden floor was removed but as much as possible recycled for use on the front of the pass, room name signs. Not to mention our fabulous dining tables created by Stan Healey from Wood mad in Kendal.
The old-fashioned bar was torn out from the dining room, and drinks are now served in this comfortably-furnished room. Walls are decorated in stunning Cole and Son wallpaper that has to be seen to be believed! Dropping the ceiling for various services and insulation provided the perfect opportunity to highlight the stunning original coving.
The old carpets and furniture have been replaced by an air of sumptuousness so that guests can relax in front of a log fire burning in the original Victorian fireplace. Again, Cole and Son wallpaper creates a dramatic effect and luxurious Zoffany fabrics adorn sofas you won’t want to get out of!
Each room is named after the many types of trees in the gardens. More romantic than 1, 2, or 3!
All the bedrooms have been designed by our good friend, interior designer, James Mackie, who has used the same luxurious materials in every room so that everyone can have the full Forest Side experience. Wallpaper, curtains and many of the fabrics used in the bedrooms are made by Zoffany. Paint throughout the hotel is of course the wonderful Farrow and Ball. The super-comfortable beds have been made by Harrison Spinks, in Leeds, to an exclusive design for Wildsmith Hotels and contain over 10000 springs.
As with the bedrooms, every bathroom has exactly the same high quality fixtures and fittings. Our larger rooms have separate walk in showers and baths, some have baths with showers over, whereas a couple of our cosy rooms only have large walk in showers.
The carpets throughout the hotel are made by Wools of Cumbria Carpets using the wool from our local Herdwick sheep. They have been dyed in a shades created especially for Wildsmith Hotels. The entire order for the carpets totalled over 2000 fleeces! The largest single order of Herdwick wool ever placed!
The massive cellars were cleared out and now house the control room for the new heating system – enough technology to launch a space rocket! All is controlled via computer to ensure consistency and efficiency. Just as importantly the cellars also now house what they were meant for – our extensive wine collection. The vast maze of small underground rooms provides plenty of space for hundreds of bottles, and at some point in the not too distant future, a tasting room.