The Royal Hotel, Kirkby Lonsdale – Review
The Royal Hotel, Kirkby Lonsdale, Lake District
by Roger Crow
Comfort is key in all hotels, but most of the time that involves crashing on a comfy bed and usually nodding off. This time it’s a chaise lounge which has turned my relaxation dial to 11. It’s hard to think of a more comfortable way to survey the opulent, bold, masterfully decorated room I’m soaking up.
From my superbly comfortable position I realise I’m not hallucinating. That gold-coloured mirror, rippling with ornate carving, actually does work with the equally busy wallpaper. And then there’s the bath… in the bedroom. It’s a great feature which is equally stress-relieving. The fact the spotless wet room/shower is a masterpiece of design also makes me slack of jaw.
I’m in Kirkby Lonsdale’s The Royal Hotel, an expertly restored Georgian townhouse which boasts the Lakes/Dales/Forest of Bowland as its backdrop. It grabs me from the clock-centric orange staircase which leads to our room. I’m impressed by the automated lighting that activates as we ascend the stairs, and then, after unlocking our door comes the big reveal.
Soon the only thing stressed in the room is the furniture, which is as fabulous as all the other touches. There’s a glorious view of the market place and the stunning hills beyond really takes the breath away. My partner Rachel and I are in town for 24-hours to check out the area, food and facilities.
“My main is stunning”
Sadly The Royal Hotel doesn’t have its own parking, but through some canny planning we manage to see some relatives, and by the time we return it’s free from 6pm until 8am. We book dinner for 8:15, but there’s a 20-minute wait until we can get seated. Though it’s more like a noisy pub than a restaurant, we eventually settle into our comfy chairs to sample some acclaimed food from the brasserie.
My scallops starter is beautifully cooked and wakes up my palate. My partner Rachel, as a selective pescatarian, has more trouble finding a dish to suit her. “Pea and mint risotto doesn’t float my boat,” she says. So she goes for a salmon frittata starter, and Lancashire cheese and onion pie with chunky chips and homemade brown sauce for main.
It’s very tasty, especially as the mustard accentuates the cheese, but a lack of veg, and the fact it’s a heavy meal with little to lift it soon leaves her with that ’Why is there not more choice for vegetarians?’ face. “I can get pie and chips anywhere,” she sighs.
Thankfully, my main is stunning. The belly pork is so expertly cooked it almost melts in the mouth. The confit pig’s cheek, fondant potato, wilted spinach, broccoli purée and cider jus balances the flavours beautifully.
Dessert is equally moreish. I savour a kahlua, vanilla and chocolate cheesecake. The globe of choc ice cream is just as delicious. There’s too much of it sadly, and at the risk of performing Hulk-style shirt-busting, I call it a day. Rachel’s apple tart with cinnamon cream is almost a triumph, though the excessive apple peel gets a thumbs down.
“The beating heart of the town”
The huge bed ensures we get a perfect night’s sleep after the noise from the bar dies down. I’m up early to put a few hours on the car before our 11am checkout.
Breakfast is superb, not least because of the option of fruit-free cereal. Okay, It’s a little thing but I hate raisins, currants, sultanas and love muesli. Picking out intrusive chunks of fruit from cereal wastes far too much time in life, so this is a major bonus. And the full Cumberland breakfast is out of this world. The bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, black pudding and toast leave me on cloud nine, while service is superb.
We dine in the bar area, which is as elegantly decorated as the rest of The Royal. There’s a crisps display so beautifully done, I waste little time getting a photo, along with countless others of the decor. Rachel’s eggs florentine gets a big thumbs up, and as Kirkby Lonsdale comes alive, we pack up and check out.
While pottering around the picturesque town, trying the local chocolate shop and eyeing up the assorted eateries and quaint houses, we realise there’s assorted other car parks we could have used.
Unsurprisingly we get that ’Wish we could stay longer’ feeling.
I’m not surprised The Royal Hotel is so busy. It’s not just any old hostelry, but the beating heart of the town.
The Royal Hotel, Main Street, Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria, LA6 2AE
Food and drink available all day in the Brasserie and Bar. Also Afternoon teas, Platter and Prosecco, Sunday Lunches, Pizza menu. Fourteen stunning bedrooms – see website for accommodation offers.
01524 271 966