In the serene beauty of the Lake District's Grasmere Vale, The Forest Side hotel stands as an enchanting retreat. Over the years, it has been a place of cherished memories and heartfelt moments for many. And now, in this heartfelt feature, Laura Bartlett, whose parents first discovered the hotel in 2017, shares her personal connection to this magical place…
Driving into the Forest Side hotel in a sleek and elegant Lexus LC 500, I couldn't help but feel a rush of nostalgia and excitement. The tall trees on the driveway looked like something straight out of a Disney movie, and the magic only grew as I stepped inside. Forest Side had been a special place for my family ever since my parents discovered it in 2017. I remember how my dad raved about it, saying it was the best meal he had ever had. Little did we know then that this enchanting place would become a significant part of our lives.
A few years ago, to celebrate my parents' 25th wedding anniversary, I planned a special surprise for them—a trip back to the Forest Side hotel. The memories from that visit are still etched in my heart to this day. It was a time filled with joy, laughter, and delicious dishes. We indulged in an incredible tasting menu, savouring every bite of the famous marmite home-cooked bread and green butter that my dad had talked about for years.
But life has its twists, and in 2021, we faced a devastating loss as my dad passed away. The pain was immeasurable, but the memories he had created for us remained a source of comfort and strength. To honour his life and the incredible moments we shared, my mum, my brother, and I decided to return to the Forest Side recently, on the two-year anniversary of his passing.
It was heartwarming to see how the hotel had transformed over the years. The once-neglected gardens were now enchanting, adding to the hotel's charm. The rooms retained their country chic charm, ready to embrace anyone seeking solace in this beautiful landscape. But the true magic was happening in the kitchen, where Head Chef Paul Leonard worked his culinary wonders yet again.Paul Leonard had joined the Forest Side team with an impressive culinary background, having cooked in Michelin-starred kitchens under renowned chefs like Marcus Wareing and Andrew Farlie. His passion for locally sourced produce mirrored the hotel's food ethos, reflecting the essence of the Lake District's landscape.
As my family gathered in the bar for pre-drinks, I appreciated the thoughtful gesture of offering alcohol-free wine alternatives. It showed that the Forest Side cared deeply for its guests. The familiar flavours of the marmite bread and green butter brought back cherished memories. The 8-course tasting menu was as delightful as ever, a tribute to the times we had spent here with my dad.
The Forest Side had always held a special place in our hearts, but now, after my dad's passing, it became even more meaningful. It was more than just a beautiful hotel; it was a sanctuary where we could cherish his memory and celebrate the love he had given us.
After a restful night's sleep in our luxurious rooms, we returned to the same restaurant for breakfast the next morning. As we sat down, we couldn't help but notice the magical sight unfolding in the garden outside. Birds were fluttering around, playfully opening the bird boxes to find their breakfast. It was a heartwarming spectacle, and we couldn't help but feel a sense of wonder at the harmony between nature and the Forest Side's enchanting atmosphere.
As I looked back on our journey with the Forest Side, I was grateful for the incredible experiences we had shared. The culinary legacy that Paul Leonard had started. The Forest Side was a symbol of love, resilience, and the power of awakening, just like Sleeping Beauty, to create lasting memories for generations to come.
On that day, as we raised a toast to my dad, I knew that the Forest Side would forever hold a special place in our hearts—a place where love, memories, and magic intertwined amidst the tall trees and captivating landscapes of the Lake District.
Book your stay today and start to create your own everlasting memories.