Review: Greta Hall, Keswick

Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe is an award-winning author, editor and publisher from Leeds, now based in Manchester. He runs Dog Horn Publishing and is Director and Writing Coordinator for Young Enigma, a writer development programme for LGBT young people.
Adam Lowe

In the history of English culture, there are none as romantic (at least Romantic with a capital ‘R’) as the Romantic poets themselves. From William Wordsworth to Lord Byron, the Romantic poets were drawn, as one, to the sublime landscapes of the literary Lakelands. Much tourism seeks out the more famous literary hotspots in the Lake District, such as Dove Cottage (home of the Wordsworth Trust) and even The World of Beatrix Botter (less romantic, unless you’re into furry things). But rarer, and more special still, is the secret retreat of Greta Hall.

Greta Hall once homed poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey. Coleridge himself said, ‘I question if there be a room in England which commands a view of mountains and lakes and woods superior to that in which I am now writing’. Southey described the house, the grounds and, most importantly, the views as comprising ‘Perhaps the finest single spot in England’. Visit Britain have agreed with the two poets and awarded Greta Hall a four-star rating in 2009.

The Romantics were known not just for their writing but also for their decadence, their thirst for life, and their various states of inebriation. In recognition of this illustrious past, Coleridge’s Study has been fitted with a grand opium bed, shipped in from Hong Kong. In-keeping with the decadent theme, there are numerous Eastern flourishes throughout the accommodation, which adds rich texture to the historical and literary character. The Study benefits from inspiring views of the valleys and nearby Skiddaw, and is just one of three rooms that comprise the vast Coleridge Wing (which sleeps up to six people).

The Old Wash House is a self-contained unit that sleeps two in a double bed. It includes its own kitchen and sitting room, bathroom and parking space. The woodburning stove provides heat through our notorious soggy winters, and makes for a snug and intimate hideaway for couples.

The Coach House sleeps nine to 11 people, in three doubles, a triple and a gallery twin. The Coach House is high above the banks of the River Greta, round the back of Greta Hall, and detached from the main building for extra privacy. It features a giant sitting/dining room and kitchen, with a woodburning stove and an apex ceiling. Both of the ground-floor doubles have en suite bathrooms, while the triple has adult-sized bunkbeds and a single. The Coach House is fully equipped with a toilet and hand basin, washing machine and tumble dryer, and three parking spaces.

The top floor of the Coach House is only bookable two weeks in advance. With room enough for four, the top floor includes a double bedroom, twin gallery bedroom and vast sitting/dining room and kitchen.

All beds come with duck or goose down pillows and all double beds have pure white Egyptian cotton bed linen. Double duvets also have goose down.

For guests who wish for bed and breakfast, there is a standard double bedroom with en suite bathroom in the main house. This curved wing bedroom, with its own magnificent views of Borrowdale Valley, has a four-poster bed, a cast iron roll top bath and window seats. Southey’s Parlour is turned out for breakfast and evening meals, featuring an original wooden fire designed for the house, moved by a later owner, and then returned generations later to be restored to its former glory. Southey’s Parlour makes for a charming place to rest on wet days in front of the open fire.

Guests in the self-catering wings who wish to have bed and breakfast will be treated to freshly baked organic bread and eggs from the local hens and ducks, which they can prepare themselves. All guests also receive homemade cake or biscuits with their complementary welcome pack. Freshly prepared, mostly vegan or veggie meals to share can be prepared for your supper, with a day’s notice. As with the freshly baked items, all the food is locally sourced and organic where possible—and often from their free-range garden. A waiter or waitress can be arranged for celebrations or when you simply want to put your feet up.

Greta Hall takes bookings Saturday to Sunday, with check-in after 4pm and check-out by 10am. Short stay and weekend breaks are subject to availability. Prices range from £315 in the Wash House to £1225 in the Coach House. Christmas rates are considerably higher.

Visit gretahall.net for more information.

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