Travel: Kendal, the gateway to the Lakes, has much to offer visitors

The hotels  Greenhouse restaurant.
The hotels Greenhouse restaurant.
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Marvellous! The only thing missing was draught Guinness, said the guest checking out of Kendal’s Castle Green Hotel.

A few weeks later he was back – to find four cans of his favourite brew in his room, along with a welcome note.

The River Kent and Kendal town centre.

The River Kent and Kendal town centre.

That’s the kind of personal service that makes the Castle Green stand out.

It’s a comfortable 4-star hotel at the gateway to the Lake District; but it’s the staff who make it special.

Less than two hours’ drive from Sheffield, Kendal is a perfect base for exploring the Cumbrian coast and the Yorkshire Dales, as well as the Lakes. We managed all three the other weekend...

There’s a lot more to this market town than we’d realised. Famous for wool and mint cake, Kendal’s distinguishing feature is its network of fortified alleyways – known as yards – where locals once sought shelter from Scottish raiding parties.

Castle Green Hotel, Kendal.Picture: www.stevenbarber.com

Castle Green Hotel, Kendal.Picture: www.stevenbarber.com

Today they form part of a quirky mix of shops, cafés, galleries and attractions that make up the town centre.

Running through the middle is the River Kent, studded by bridges. Wander through the riverside gardens and visit the 13th century parish church – one of the widest in the country.

Nearby, the K Village factory shopping centre is handy for bargains from shoes to Denby pottery.

And the Brewery Arts Centre now offers community gardens, a cinema, theatre and café in place of the old coppers and mash tuns.

It’s all a pleasant 20-minute stroll from the hotel and we took in the castle ruins on our way back. From the hilltop there’s a great view of the surrounding area.

But you don’t need to leave the hotel for that: our room had its own balcony with equally panoramic views over the countryside and picturesque hotel grounds.

The room itself was recently refurbished and comfortable, with a king size bed and en suite shower room. In addition to the usual toiletries and refreshments, we had our own cafetière, complete with filter coffee, shortbread and cookies.

And the integral health & fitness club offers gyms, pool and steam room as well as a luxurious spa where staff are waiting to pamper you into a state of blissful relaxation.

The Castle Green is family-owned, newly featured as one of Best Western’s exclusive Premier Collection.

MD Tim Rumney has worked with owner James Alexander since shortly after the place opened 18 years ago. It’s his influence that gives the hotel its edge, with a focus on personal service.

We experience this at first hand during breakfast when a waitress, realising our interest, dashes off and returns with a copy of the hotel’s history she has compiled.

The original house was built by a local businessman, we learn, and later became offices until being converted into a hotel by the Alexander family. The old stable block is now a pub and the grounds remain, an attractive backdrop to the glass-walled Greenhouse restaurant.

This is the domain of head chef Justin Woods, who was at London’s Lanesborough until taking over 13 years ago.

Cooking is accomplished, with a focus on good quality local ingredients. Menus offer a good choice of dishes, beautifully presented. The icing on the cake, in fact, for the ideal short break.

Castle Green Hotel, Castle Green Lane, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 6RG Tel: 01539 734000 Castle Green

Special offer: 15% off room rates if you book direct. Spice Up Your Sunday: dinner, bed, breakfast & spa, just £65pp 5 nights or more from £55pp per night.