FWP completes historic Lake District hotel’s refurbishment

One of the Lake District’s most historic and popular hotels has undergone a major makeover.

Architecture, design and masterplanning practice FWP Ltd has led on the impressive refurbishment of the Borrowdale Hotel for the family-run Lake District Hotels group.

The project began in 2020, with an interruption during the Covid pandemic. It is one of several upgrades FWP has carried out for the hospitality business, which is owned by the Graves family.

The refurbishment of The Borrowdale Hotel, near Keswick, which first opened its doors in 1866, has royal links and played a prominent role in opening up the Lake District to visitors, has seen the ground floor get a fresh new look.

It includes the creation of a new entrance area, reception and office, a reception lounge, restaurant and breakfast bar area, along with a fireside lounge and corridor area. A number of its luxurious bedrooms have also been restyled and refreshed.

Kate Simmons, associate at FWP, said: “The Borrowdale Hotel is a very traditional English Lakes hotel which is extremely popular with walkers.

“The brief we were given was to give the hotel an upmarket look, in keeping with the group’s distinct and stylish brand, while not losing the close connection with its current customer base and retaining the historic character it has become so well known for.

“We didn’t want to create something too contemporary that guests wouldn’t find comfortable, so we centred the design around a welcoming, relaxed, charming feel, with that touch of luxury and elegance guests want when they visit a Lake District hotel.

“The inspiration for the refurbishment was the outdoor environment surrounding the hotel, bringing the earthy tones of bracken, gorse timber and slate together with reflections and colours of Derwentwater, forming a palate of natural materials and a tastefully neutral earthy colour palate.”

The new interiors have been designed to give visitors a warm Lakeland welcome, with real log fires, deep pile carpets and comfortable inviting armchairs and sofas with plenty of cushions.

Amid the new designs, some original characteristics of the historic hotel have been retained, including old service bells, the distinctive grandfather clocks in the lounges and large an interesting 3D maps in the corridors.

Kate said: “That mix of old and new was important to us. We wanted to retain the historic charm of the Borrowdale alongside the luxurious new elements we have introduced.”

The hotel’s stunning new look restaurant is ‘classically elegant’ with a host of features, including a panelled ceiling, marble tables and bespoke fixed seating, helping to create a special experience for diners.

Kate said: “The views surrounding the restaurant inspired this space, the lines within the bespoke Axminister carpet reflect the contour line on maps surrounding the hotel. The neutral colour palate mixed with the earthy tones of the surrounding hills and waters set the mood for this room.

“We have original artwork from local artists that adorn the walls together with feature wine displays.”

Splendid fireplaces in both lounges add to the lavish feel, especially in the newly created entrance lounge. The fireplace lounge is also ‘stylish yet comfortable’.

Kate said: “We want guests to feel they can sit in a welcoming armchair, relax in front of the fire, read a book or have a game of chess and watch the views of the hills change in that day’s weather.

“The main lounge has on its walls a gallery of historic images collected throughout the Borrowdale’s history. The artwork in this lounge and throughout the hotel plays a major part to its unique design, feel and charm.”

Kate added: “In the bedrooms we set out to deliver rooms that are special, modern, and also comfortable. We have incorporated a number of bespoke features in the rooms, including 3D wall panelling with inset TVs, together with deluxe seating, beds and fittings that the hotel group has become renown for and prides itself on.

“In all our bedroom makeovers we are inspired by new collections of fabrics and furniture and that enables our designs to remain unique as they enhance the wonderful boutique hotels we work with. We strive to keep our designs both fresh and modern.

“Throughout our work in the Borrowdale Hotel we have maximised the use of British manufacturers, lowering the carbon footprint of the project.”

Nestling at the foot of Shepherds Crag at the tip of Derwentwater, the Borrowdale Hotel opened its doors a year after the railway reached Keswick and Victorian visitors began exploring this part of the Lake District.

As one of the first coaching inns, it gained a reputation for fine hospitality and was patronised by HRH Prince Arthur, The Prince of Wales, and “other leading nobility of Great Britain”.

FWP has worked on successful upgrade projects for Lake District Hotels over more than a decade, delivering contemporary bedrooms and impressive public spaces to several of its well-known and well-loved hotels.

They include the Skiddaw Hotel in Keswick and the Inn on the Lake at Glenridding, where it created contemporary new looks for the ground floors as well as guest room makeovers.

The refurbishment of the Inn on the Lake included its bar, lounges, ceremonial room and wedding prep and meeting rooms as well as the venue’s dining suite and restaurant.

FWP also carried out a full redesign of The Inn on the Square in Keswick, which the business bought in 2013. And its current work includes a makeover for 12 bedrooms, including two suites, at the Skiddaw.

David Simmons, senior associate at FWP, said: “Lake District Hotels are all about quality and individuality and our designs are created to enhance the offering and experience for their guests.

“The Graves family pay great attention to detail at all their properties, which is why they have an excellent reputation in the industry. We work hard to deliver designs for contemporary bedrooms and public spaces that make a favourable first impression on visitors and make their stay comfortable and enjoyable.”

FWP, which has offices in Preston, Manchester and London, has a wealth of experience in the hospitality and tourism sector, including a number of standout projects in the Lake District.

It was part of the team that delivered the £16m development of the Low Wood Bay hotel and spa at Windermere. FWP also oversaw a £2m expansion plan at Haverigg Holiday Village in South Cumbria.

FWP provided its full range of services for the comprehensive internal remodelling of the Rheged visitor attraction near Penrith.

That project is one of a number FWP has carried out for the award-winning Westmorland Family. They include helping deliver a £35m project to build Gloucester Gateway, the UK’s most eco-friendly services on the M5, and the upgrading of the company’s flagship Tebay Services on the M6 in Cumbria.

FWP is the architect in the project to deliver the Sands Venue Resort, Blackpool’s first five-star hotel. It has also worked with the Max William Hotels group on its North West hotel aparthotel projects, including developments in Chester and its home city of Preston.