The Pheasant Inn nestles in the loop of a country lane near the head of Bassenthwaite Lake, near Cockermouth. Its low, solid exterior is typical of older houses, farms and hotels in the Lake District. Its interior is far from typical; it is warm and welcoming with two lounges - the smaller one used mostly by residents - both of which boast roaring fires in winter. The Garden Lounge is the larger of the two and has beautiful views over the pretty garden and the wooded fells beyond; a perfect place to indulge yourself and your favourite people in one of The Pheasant's famously gargantuan afternoon teas or simply a cup of cappuccino and a piece of home-made shortbread.
There are two restaurants for residents and non-residents to choose from: The Bistro buzzes with life and has a friendly, relaxed atmosphere that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The Garden Restaurant overlooks the garden and here the atmosphere is also very friendly but much quieter and children are not allowed here (bliss for my wife and me as ex-teachers!). The food in both is of the same VERY high quality!
The Pheasant Inn bar is famous throughout Cumbria (and beyond). Frequented by the famous John Peel in his day, it has mellow, aged cream walls and cozy corners to huddle in. The stock of single malts is enormous and some very fine wines are available along with decent stuff that even I can afford. There is also a selection of locally-brewed draught beers to please the ale fancier.
We have stayed in two of the upstairs rooms. The furniture is a very long way from standardised hotel offerings. Each room is individually furnished with antiques and in excellent taste, walls are decorated in warm, light colours and all rooms are en-suite, have phone, TV, tea and coffee-making facilities, iron/ironing board and hair drier. We have also stayed in both the garden annexe rooms where well-behaved dogs are allowed and Bertie, our miniature schnauzer loves the place and the freedom he is given of the lounge and bar areas - though he always wears formal dress (his lead!).
Suffice it to say, if we didn't think this place was a real gem we wouldn't return year after year in summer and for the amazing New Year Party in the festive season.
You would be well advised to give The Pheasant a try - you'll be back!
There is no wifi in the garden annexe but it is available throughout the public areas of the hotel as well as in the upstairs bedrooms.
I don't know if I *actually* know what "old school British" is all about, but the Pheasant Inn basically checks all of my imagined boxes. Think: wood paneling and a beautifully tended garden, and a boozy-smelling bar, and a formal living room ("drawing room"?).
The vintage prints on the wall are a hipster's wet dream: old topographical maps, and pen-lined hunting maps of the UK, not to mention a mounted bass with glassy eyes staring back at you after one too many gin and tonics. He, appropriately, used to call Bassenthwaite Lake - located just across the road from the Pheasant - home.
I had no idea whether this was a reservations-only type of spot, and due to a wedding or some other well attended event, I'm glad that we made dinner reservations. There is the pub area, but also a "Bistro" and a formal Dining Room at the Pheasant Inn; reservations are not as crucial for the former, but highly recommended for the latter. Opting to go whole hog (see, also: YOLO) we went for the formal option. I'd recommend this to all readers for the following reasons:
- amazing personalized service from all members of staff at the Pheasant
- a complimentary 'amuse bouche' and bread (black pudding-infused rolls!) with the table
- once you reserve, the table is yours for the night. It's a really charming place to make a night of it...have pre-drinks in the living room, sit at your table, enjoy the fell views
The food was delicious (I feel awful for not being able to remember specifics beyond truly enjoying my fish) and the service was seamless. For all the personalized attention and the whole "experience" the prices were entirely reasonable. We feel very lucky to have discovered it, somewhat haphazardly!
Yelp note: try to make it at the "golden hour"; not only a great time for cocktails, but amazing light for some pictures in the gardens and surrounding.
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