Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Yorkshire dales, the Forest of Bowland and northwestern England's Lakes District, Kirkby Lonsdale dates to the 1200s. The hotels in such an ancient village have had centuries in which to develop character. They include a renovated mid-1800s winery, two 17th-century establishments, and an elegant Georgian inn.
The Sun Inn
A five-star Automobile Association (AA) bed and breakfast, Kirkby Lonsdale's 17th-century Sun Inn welcomes Lake District walkers and their dogs. Each of 11 Wi-Fi-equipped rooms -- four of them dog friendly -- has handmade furniture, a pillow-top mattress and flat-screen television. Some feature exposed stone walls or fireplaces. A path leading from adjacent St. Mary's Churchyard through the woods and along the River Lune demands dog exploration. Sausages and bacon from the local butcher partner with free-range eggs and homemade granola at breakfast. Sharing an AA Rosette-winning menu, the Sun's restaurant and bar serve monthly menus of Cumbrian meats, cheeses and produce paired with an impressive selection of cask ales and wines.
Two minutes from the River Lune vista of which Victorian thinker and poet John Ruskin once observed, "I do not know . . . a place more naturally divine," Plato's Hotel began as an 1860 winery. Today the five-star AA Restaurant with Rooms offers eight individually decorated guest accommodations with pocket-sprung mattresses, locally produced designer toiletries, flat-screen television, Wi-Fi and rainfall showers. Midnight snacks await late-returning guests who can sleep in; included breakfast is available until 2:30 p.m. Plato's Restaurant also serves lunches, afternoon teas and dinners of fresh local ingredients paired with Mediterranean spices.
The Royal Hotel, on Kirkby Lonsdale's Main Street, is right at home amid the town's predominantly Georgian and Victorian architecture. Each of the Georgian townhouse's 14 uniquely proportioned guestrooms has a flat-screen television, iPod radio and luxury bath. Individual rooms may have large windows overlooking the town square, a plunge pool or corner bath, exposed beams or four-poster beds. The hotel restaurant serves seasonal lunches and dinners. A classic dish is bangers and mash -- Cumberland sausage served with mashed potatoes and onion gravy. The hotel bar invites guests to linger over tea, coffee and their choice of newspapers or magazines.
Blue Pig Bed and Breakfast
The Blue Pig Bed and Breakfast, an English Heritage Grade II coaching inn, stands in front of the town's former Swine Market. Scotland's Bonnie Prince Charlie stood by the market's stone cross and pleaded with the townspeople to join his quest for the English crown. The adults-only establishment’s three guestrooms compensate for lack of size with comfortable touches. All have memory foam mattresses, heated bath floors and flat-screen television. Free Wi-Fi is available. Cold breakfast options include juices, cereals, fruit and yogurt; guests also have a choice of continental and full Cumbrian breakfasts. Fifteenth-century Hipping Hall's restaurant, less than three miles from the Blue Pig, uses produce from its own garden in lunch and dinner entrees like sea bass poached with creamed leeks, shrimp and scallop velouté and Sevruga caviar.
- rural scene near kirkby lonsdale, cumbria image by Kevin Eaves from Fotolia.com