TRAVEL REVIEW - Living it up in The Lakes

Inn on the Square, Keswick
Inn on the Square, Keswick

The Inn on the Square is literally the new kid on the block in Keswick. But despite not yet celebrating its first anniversary, this classy hotel-restaurant at the heart of The Lakes has attracted a loyal and enthusiastic following.

Part of the Lake District Hotels group, the Inn stands apart from its six stable-mates in that it has a less British traditional vibe than a modern Scandinavian one.

Our compact but tastefully furnished on the top floor wanted for nothing, including a spectacular view of the nearby mountains

It was no surprise then to hear a member of the owner’s family with Nordic roots has been tasked with this project.

An historic building has clearly been all but gutted to be given a bright, airy and new minted look, with no stinting on the quality of the fixtures, fittings and decor.

Our compact but tastefully furnished on the top floor wanted for nothing, including a spectacular view of the nearby mountains.

While overlooking the town’s busiest street, the room was, happily, equipped with excellent double glazing which, along with one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept in, made for a snugly undisturbed night.

There was a nice big TV with none of the reception problems you sometimes encounter in hotels, and a beautifully appointed bathroom which was spotlessly clean and whose luxury features included a digital radio.

The hotel strikes a nice balance between smart and quality on the one side and friendly and relaxed on the other.

All the staff were polite and slightly informal at the same time – none of that obsequious forelock-tugging that can grate after a while.

The in-house restaurant is the Brossen Steakhouse which wisely takes a relatively small number of dishes and does them well, with no need for specials.

My starter was a gin-marinated piece of salmon with grilled asparagus and hollandaise sauce that delivered a delicious flavour.

Wife Helen started with a “proper scotch egg” which she said was both very tasty and surprisingly light while complemented by a rocket salad and balsamic vinaigrette.

Given the eatery’s name I couldn’t really go for anything other than a steak and chose a 21-day aged 9oz flatiron cut smothered with chimichurri sauce and joined on the plate by creamy spinach and chips cooked in beef dripping (only way: Lancashire chippies please listen!). The beef just melted in the mouth and to be honest would probably have been nice enough even without its fancy coating.

Helen, expecting to be full after her egg, opted for a light chicken salad main. Fine, if that’s what you want and it did what it said on the tin!

We just managed to squeeze in dessert, the other half opting for pineapple upsidedown cake with ice cream while I plumped for a baked white chocolate rice pudding. Scrummy.

The next morning’s breakfast was equally as hearty and gave us a great send-off after a lovely stay.

The road up to Keswick from the South Lakes is still closed following the new year floods, but is due to open very soon and in any case the town can still be easily accessed by travelling up to Penrith on the M6 and turning left.

And the Inn on the Square is well worth a visit if you’re heading that way. And it’s very reasonably priced for what you get too, with even better deals sometimes to be found online.