Hotel review: Macdonald Leeming House, Ullswater, Penrith – by Editor Victoria Galligan
If, like me, you live relatively close to the Lake District but don’t get the chance to visit often, then stop. Drop everything. And go! As we drove up through Cumbria and along the winding roads approaching Ullswater, I was reminded of previous visits filled with pottering around lakesides, visiting tea shops and feasting in country pubs. I also found myself wondering why we don’t visit more often.
For a wedding, the breathtaking, dramatic scenery and fantastic secluded location makes MacDonald Leeming House a winner from the off - before you’ve even seen the magnificent building, you know guests are going to be impressed with the location. The House itself is also impressive. A classic Georgian lakeside design, the building is 200 years old and features lots of huge windows to take in the views, and a beautiful terrace perfect for those drinks and canapés after the ceremony.
On check-in, we were greeted by the super-friendly receptionist who chatted to us about the hotel and booked us in for dinner. She took us straight to our perfectly prepared room, showing us the quickest way through the plethora of corridors and staircases. A small bottle of complimentary red wine was the perfect addition to the room, and with two TV screens, we settled in to relax and unwind. The huge bathroom, which featured two sinks, plus a bath and spacious separate shower cubicle, was the perfect place to dress for dinner – with no fighting over who should ready first. The suite had plenty of chairs and tables – ideal for wedding guests getting ready on your big day – and an espresso machine for coffee lovers.
As we wandered back down to the dining room for dinner, we passed room after room of entertaining space. I think this is what makes Leeming House such an attractive weeding venue: its options for various numbers of guests means that your wedding needn’t be a one-size fits all: with several Lounges, a Regency Room, a Library and the Blue Room, there are plenty of options and for larger weddings, you needn’t be worried about running out of space in the evening. Leeming House can cater for up to 82 day and 120 evening guests inside, or the Marquee – which is erected lakeside – can house up to 120 day guests.
The impressive dining room looks out over the rear of the hotel, over the terrace and down to Ullswater with the imposing fells forming a dramatic backdrop. With two AA Rosettes, the hotel’s service is excellent and the food, of course, was sumptuous.
I opted for the Seared Orkney Scallops, served with seaweed jelly and samphire, followed by the pan-seared fillet of hake which was complemented by squid ink, pearl barley and cavolo nero (Italian kale). And as my husband tucked into his dark chocolate delice with mango sorbet and crisp, I was a little jealous. Luckily, the Cumbrian and continental cheese board which I had opted for was more than enough to make up for my food envy.
In the morning we explored parts of the 22-acre grounds which, as we visited in February, were covered in snow and made for a beautiful white scene perfect for a winter wedding. With extensive grounds reaching down to the lake, and the looming fells providing the dramatic setting, the hotel offers a memorable location. The steps up from the lakeside towards the terrace are wide and grand – you can imagine Elizabeth and Mr Darcy sweeping down them – and the terrace itself has accommodated some magnificent weddings which you can check out in the reception area photo albums.
If you’re arriving by helicopter, fear not – the hotel has a helipad where visitors fly in for the weekend or even just for afternoon tea! And in future there are plans, the hotel manager told us, to hold weddings outdoors and even offer post-ceremony boat rides from a jetty.
So watch this space, because the historical Leeming House is far from stuck in the past. It’s a stunning, culturally-rich venue which offers everything couples could want to make their wedding truly perfect.
Intimate Love: For up to 22 people, private use of Blue Room for ceremony and wedding breakfast, including extras such as drinks, chair covers and complimentary stay in bridal suite: from £3,150
Regency Inclusive Package: for up to 50 guests, private use of the Regency Room and extras including complimentary bridal suite and two room upgrades for your guests: from £6,175
Celebration Exclusive Package: For up to 80 guests, with private use of Regency Room and including extras such as DJ and bacon rolls in the evening: from £10,840