Hotel review

Lake District hotel review: Inside The Ro, which offers stunning views of Windermere

Great British boltholes: If you want a hotel room with stunning views across England’s longest lake, this is the place to stay…

  • Alan Copps checks in to The Ro, perched on a terrace above Bowness-on-Windermere
  • Its lake view room with balcony is ideal for a couple and has a “wonderfully comfortable” bed
  • He says the food is ‘special’ and adds that his Cumbrian lamb shank is ‘tasty and melt-in-your-mouth’


Perched on a terrace above Bowness-on-Windermere, The Ro is a grand Victorian building that has welcomed visitors to the Lake District for over a century.

Its best rooms have stunning views across England’s longest lake and beyond to the mountains that offer something for everyone from the casual walker to the serious climber.

It’s a five-minute walk to the town center with its bustling shops — plenty of specialty outdoor gear essential for exploring the lakes — and a World Of Beatrix Potter attraction to keep younger visitors entertained.

Looking big: Alan Copps checks into The Ro, above, which has welcomed visitors to the Lake District for over a century

The hotel's best rooms have stunning views across England's longest lake, Windermere (above)

The hotel’s best rooms have stunning views across England’s longest lake, Windermere (above)

A further five minutes brings you to the edge of the lake where a ‘steamboat’ or speedboat will take you north to the pretty town of Ambleside, south to or around Fell Foot with its water sports centre. of the islands that dot Windermere.

A ten minute car ferry across the lake puts you on the road to Coniston and an hour’s drive will take you to the wildest lakes of the west set amongst the highest peaks.

All this makes The Ro a comfortable base from which to explore England’s largest and most visited national park. Once known as Hydro, a redesign swept away any lingering formality and gave the public spaces of this imposing building a functional, simple and modern feel. It’s backed up by friendly staff who offer a warm welcome and plenty of advice on where to go and what to see.

Rooms range from comfortable to spacious, if you choose a suite for the whole family. Regardless of size, they all offer good Wi-Fi, work desks, and large flat-screen TVs. Our lake view room with a balcony for a panoramic sunset was ideal for a couple, the bathroom had a great shower, there was plenty of space and a wonderfully comfortable bed. Who needs artwork on the walls when the landscape offers such variety and grandeur?

The restaurant is practical and comfortable rather than luxurious, but the food would complement a much grander setting. Ingredients are local whenever possible and main courses are special. A Cumbrian lamb shank with caramelized shallots and a jus of red wine was succulent and melt-in-your-mouth, while a chicken breast with a mushroom and smoked pancetta sauce was equally delicious.

As for the desserts, an orange posset with Yorkshire rhubarb was good enough to eat two nights in a row, although the sticky toffee pudding came close.

Above is one of the hotel's neat rooms.  “Whatever the size, they all offer good Wi-Fi, a desk and a large flat-screen TV,” says Alan

Above is one of the hotel’s neat rooms. “Whatever the size, they all offer good Wi-Fi, a desk and a large flat-screen TV,” says Alan

Alan describes the restaurant (pictured) as

Alan describes the restaurant (pictured) as ‘convenient and comfortable rather than luxurious’. He adds that the food would “enhance a much grander environment”

The wine list is extensive and there is a busy bar which offers countless kinds of gin. The buffet breakfast runs the gamut, from cereal or continental to black pudding, sausage, and bacon.

If you feel the need to add some culture to healthy outdoor activity, it’s a short drive to William Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage overlooking peaceful Grasmere. The ferry is a good shortcut to Beatrix Potter’s beloved farmhouse at Hill Top and to Coniston. Here, the eclectic Ruskin Museum celebrates the life and works of John Ruskin, the Victorian artist and critic.

It has a wing dedicated to the record-breaking exploits of Sir Donald Campbell, who was killed in 1967 when his 300mph boat Bluebird somersaulted over Coniston Water, and also displays one of the original dinghies that inspired the stories of beloved children of Arthur Ransome. swallows and amazons celebrating life in the Lake District.


The Ro, Bowness-on-Windermere. B&B from £166 per room per night (


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