Review of Wordsworth Hotel

Grasmere

Hotel Score: 4/10 

Restaurant Score: 3/10

Having known the hotel over many years and its former owner too it was with a great deal of anticipation that I booked our stay, sadly only one night as there was a reason for us going to Grasmere but also we could only stay the one night due to other commitments. 

Grasmere is a really quaint Lakeland village which really could do with some town planning where traffic and parking is concerned. It is so popular, so small and tightly built that traffic and pedestrians don’t really mix and it is definitely the pedestrians that win but saying that when the busses come through, and there are quite a number of them, not only tourists busses but also public transport, the lake district seems well catered for in this respect (at least it seems to be during the summer months, I suspect it will be a different story out of season).

I’ve had tenuous connections to the Hotel for many years, a former Sous Chef of mine became Head Chef here as stayed for many long years and his friend, who also worked for me back in the day came to the Wordsworth as his Sous Chef then took over as Head Chef at a rival Hotel also in Grasmere but both have since retired. 

The Wordsworth thankfully has its own car park so no problem of where to leave the car at least. Fronting the road, the hotel is in a very prominent position so will be known by many because of this whether they have stayed there or not and bills itself as “Luxury in the Heart of the Lake District”, a bold claim that I am sure it once was but now is not quite lived up to. 

On entering it is pretty much how one would expect it to be although it is a long and winding route to the reception from the car park we eventually got there. Our room was front facing, almost above the front door and as such afforded us a view up the main street in both directions which was very pleasant. It had everything we needed and was comfortable enough. We did encounter a problem however; one we’d never come across before. We had not cold water, so much so that even the loo did not refill after flushing. Would we have to move rooms? Thankfully not, reception was informed, the young man from the desk came up to check out the problem and said he would see what could be done once he had spoken to his manager. Fortunately I have a very resourceful wife, she not only very soon had the measure of the problem but also resolved the issue all by herself, what was it? Someone had turned the water off in the room! Three taps under the wash basin, like stopcocks I guess, and the cold water one was off! Crisis and possible room move averted!

The hotel sits next to the church where Wordsworth is buried hence the name of course, and after a short wander around the village and the church grounds we headed back to the hotel and the lounge. I think I have only ever been in one other hotel where the lounge is laid out more like the day room in an old folk’s home and it just makes the whole place seem unloved as a result which is a great shame as it could be a lovely room with huge windows and garden and street view and should be so much nicer, oh for a smidgen of imagination! The other was many years ago and I must admit was far worse than this, that one really did have the feeling of being in God’s waiting room!

That night’s menu, I’m not sure how often the menu changes but I suspect not very sadly, was mildly tempting but had a feel, similar to that of the lounge, of not being loved properly. I chose the Poached Rainbow Trout with Horseradish Custard, Brown Shrimps, Cucumber Pickle. I have a picture in my mind of what I was going to get along with another of what I would serve for that description, sadly neither were even close to what was served. Firstly, the fish was over cooked and also tasted somewhat old and inevitably under seasoned, the custard – wasn’t, indeed it was nothing like custard. If whipped then spooned out presumably horseradish flavoured cream is a custard then it needs calling out, there is no way in this world the word custard could ever be applied to what was on my plate and I say presumably horseradish flavoured to give them the benefit of the doubt as I could not detect even the slightest hint of horseradish. the cucumber pickle was so underrepresented that they need not have bothered and the brown shrimps, I adore brown shrimps and will walk over broken glass to get to them but the three that were on my plate must surely have meant that the kitchen was running out of them and had to stretch the meagre quantity that they had to go round! 2.5/10

My wife chose the Korean Fried Fillet of Cornish Sole with Roast Garlic Aioli, Charred Gem and Blue Cheese Dressing which sounded delicious but in the end just didn’t live up to the description as the flavours one was expecting were all non-existent! 

My wife’s Hake Chowder as the main course was again nothing like either she or I had imagined it to be and was a real let down sadly while I had the chicken dish described as Corn Fed Chicken with Hen of the Woods, Spring Vegetable Fricassee, Confit Potato, Crispy Stuffing Balls, Tarragon Oil and Light Chicken Cream Veloute. Now if we leave aside the spelling as there are very few instances where restaurants ever get their spelling correct and instead look at the contents of the dish only I was saddened to find, or not to in this case, that there was actually no Hen of the Woods on the plate at all! The Fricassee was not a Fricassee and the velouté was also not a velouté and to have spring vegetables (including asparagus) in the middle or summer bears witness to the fact that they do in fact not change the menu that often as suspected. Again, a very lack lustre dish cooked and served with very little in the way of love, skill or imagination. It was also, as seems to be the fashion these days yet I for one do not understand why, served on only 1/3rd of the plate, yep all shoved over to one side leaving the majority of the plate, in this case 2/3rds of it – empty! 3/10

For dessert I chose the barbequed Pineapple, Lime Crumble and Cheesecake Ice Cream while my wife went for the trifle, she does like her traditional British desserts! While I chose it I did not put it on the menu and I for one would never countenance using a fruit like pineapple in the height of the British summer when we are right in the middle of the soft fruit season, I just don’t understand why it would be on any menu in this country outside of the winter months. It ate okay, again a bit lacklustre and uninspiring but okay I guess. 2.5/10 

The trifle, a dish that can be so simple and delicious (or sadly boring too) or different and exciting (especially with so much fresh local soft fruit around) but of course it was the sadly boring one we got that night.

We did have a lovely bottle of wine mind you!

Even though our room overlooked the main street, and we had our window open as it was a really warm night, the room was quiet as too was the street outside so no problems sleeping at all.

Breakfast was as good as I had expected although two tea bags in a pot is far better than trying to squeeze the life out of the solitary one we got in order to get a cup of tea with a semblance of colour about it, and service that morning was very good indeed. 4/10

Yes, we would go back, probably. When Reg owned the hotel, I feel it was far far better but times move on don’t they. With a little thought, a little more enthusiasm from the staff, a tincey wincey bit of imagination and a smattering of care and attention it could again be the place it once was. If the tablecloths were ironed on the table properly, if the wine coolers were clean and the cutlery polished, the candle holders de-waxed every day and the dusting done daily it could be back there again possibly. If what is on the plate also resembled the description on the menu more than it does it too would help but all these things can easily be rectified, they just need someone to nudge them in the right direction and it could be so nice – again.

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