Can’t choose between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales? Choose both. Five-star, 16th-century hotel Hipping Hall is the sister of one of the Lakes’ finest Michelin-star hotels, Forest Side, and sits 50-minutes further south in a golden spot that shows of the best of the north-west’s beloved national parks.
With sweeping on-site grounds and 3 AA Rosette dining set in ten acres of secluded walled gardens in north Lancashire, it’s no wonder rooms are booking up fast.
From dog-friendly, Scandi-style rooms to fells, castles and waterfalls on the doorstep, here’s everything you need to know.
Where is it?
On the border of Lancashire, Cumbria and North Yorkshire, just a five-minute drive from the charming town of Kirkby Lonsale and the River Lune.
The hotel itself is a 10-minute drive from the M6 and sits right on the busy A65, so don’t book if you fancy a weekend of staying on site and wandering around the local lanes.
But if you’re up for an adventure further afield, it’s the perfect base: Kirkby is perfect for a pre-dinner stroll, Ingleton‘s caves and waterfalls are just a five-mile drive away and the glorious Ribblehead Viaduct is 20-minutes in the car for a rugged Dales walk on the doorstep that you can fit in easily before lunch.
The Lake District and its fells, lakes and tarns are just a few miles down the road and other local favourites include Lancaster Castle, White Scar Cave and Malham Cove. Gragareth, Lancashire’s highest peak, is right next door if you fancy a challenge.
The hotel is made up of a collection of Grade-II listed buildings dating back to the 15th century: the restaurant was a 17th-century blacksmith’s that turned into a grand house over time, sprawling into a series of buildings surrounded by acres of growns (Hipping is the name ofthe stepping stones that travellers used to cross Broken Beck, a little stream that rises on Ireby Moor nearby).
The exteriors are a mixture of 16th-century Yorkshire stone and lighter golden stable buildings, and inside it’s all decked out in the style of a modern country house: think wooden floors, oak dressers and deep sink-in sofas. Local is the order of the day here, with locally-crafted ceramics in the restaurant and hand-crafted paint pigments on the walls.
Hipping only has 15 rooms and they’re nicely spread out across the buildings for an informal, homely feel. You won’t feel on top of each other.
Main house rooms are the most characterful, with oak timber beams, original floors and garden views (choose the Tatham Suite for your own (large) hideaway at the top of the house). Cottage rooms are cosy and beamed, with velvet furnishings and Farrow and Ball paint.
Then there are five rooms in the Stable, with stylish Scandi furnishings, duck egg blue bathrooms and private patios. You can book all five rooms together, with their own private dining space, bar and lounge, if you fancy a private house for the weekend.
Expect in-room tea and coffee facilities, Bath House toiletries and giant freestanding baths for post-walk soaking.
Food & drink
Visitors to sister hotel Forest Side will recognise the feel, in a good way: dining is artfully done, with natural wood furnishings, chic cork place mats and cutlery presented in carved-out logs.
The menu is done a similar sustainable, artful style, but it’s unique to Hipping and acclaimed head chef Peter Howarth, with creative, contemporary dishes from King Oyster pastrami with dill and pickles to rhubarb and blood orange desserts. The eight-course tasting menu is exquisite and creative and features intricate dishes from Nordic Halibut with sardines, St Austell mussels and bacon to Roe Deer from the Cartmel Valley with miso carrot and chanterelle. There’s cherry with pistachio to finish, and leave room for the heavenly Manchester Tart.
Breakfast, like dinner, is so pretty you could paint it, with fresh raspberry and almond croissants on a plate of natural wood, miniature homemade crumpets infused with herbs and beautifully thick hunks of smoked salmon. Choose from granola, porridge or ruby grapefruit to start before a Full English, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs or sourdough eggy bread with wild mushrooms.
Waiting staff are a mixed bunch and the fun ones are nicely relaxed, chatting away about local walks and speaking frankly about the challenges of Covid for the industry.
Like at its sister Forest Side, you won’t find luxury subterranean spas or sweeping sports facilities but you will get homely cosiness, award-winning food and some of the best natural facilities in the country right on the doorstep.
There’s a charming Orangery in the main house, lounge areas with luxurious red leather chairs and grand sweeping lawns outside if you fancy a post-journey leg stretch without leaving the grounds.
Walking-wise, there are maps and pamphlets with short hiking routes to borrow and dogs are welcome. It’s just a £20 per stay, including treats and a bed.
What to Instagram
Coffee on your patio in the morning, against the golden hues of Lancashire’s highest peak, Gragareth (or a glass of Gusbourne sparkling wine there in the evening). The eight-course tasting menu makes for high-end eye candy if you’re into photographing your food.
Foodie couples on a walking holiday without the children. Young kids aren’t allowed in the restaurant after 7pm and extra beds can be set up in the rooms, but most guests are adults not families.
Combine with a stay at sister hotel Forset Side, near Grasmere in the Lake District, to make a weekend of it - the Michelin-star eight-course tasting menu is worth a visit if nothing else.
How to get there
Jump in the car from London and you’ll be there in just under five hours (on a good day). Take the two-and-a-half hour train from Euston to Oxenholme near Kendal if you don’t have a car. It’s a 25-minute taxi at the other end.
When should I go?
Whenever you can get a booking, depending on your tolerance to frosty peaks and keeness for an adventure.
There’s plenty to do within a short drive whatever the time of year, but spring and summer will heighten your chances of making it to the top of a mountain and actually getting a good view (and spotting the lambs just off the A65).
Rooms from £239, Cowan Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale, Lancashire, LA6 2JJ, hippinghall.com