A KESWICK Country House Hotel has been voted one of the top three Fine Dining Restaurants in the county at a prestigious awards ceremony.
The Swinside Lodge Hotel, nestled in the beautiful Newlands Valley, is the only establishment in north Cumbria to make it into the top three alongside The Holbeck Ghyll and Rampsbeck in the inaugural Cumbria Life Food and Drink Awards.
The road to success was a tough one as the Swinside Lodge was first shortlisted as one of the eight best from a long list of 100 establishments, before beating off stiff competition to be one of three finalists.
The accolade means The Swinside Lodge has been recognised as one of the finest dining experiences in the county and will appear in a guide heralding its position in the top three.
The judging process involved the eight shortlisted restaurants being secretly visited by the judging panel to rate them on the initial greeting and first impressions, the escort to the table and the settling of the guests, the ordering of drinks and associated skills, product knowledge and order taking of food and drinks, food quality and dining experience, table management including service recovery, managing the payment and departure They also considered the recent successes of the restaurant, marketing materials, menu compilation and responses from the staff on the day of the visit.
Since Mike & Kath Bilton took over the hotel three years ago, the couple have carried out an extensive refurbishment which this year alone has netted a lot of praise from all the top guides.
The AA gives them a 2 Red Star Hotel with an 85% grading, an AA 2 Rosette for dining and an AA Notable Wine List Award.
The Michelin Guide recommends them as a ‘Pleasant Hotel’ while Visit England gives them a 2 Star Gold Award Country House Hotel and a Visit England Breakfast Award.
Tripadvisor lists the Swinside Lodge as one of the Top 25 UK Hotels and the exlusive Alistair Sawday’s guide says they’re one of the Top 10 Special UK Hotels.
Mike Bilton said: “It is a great honour to be recognised as one of the three Finest Dining Restaurants in Cumbria and I am delighted for Kath and her team with Clive Imber as Head Chef . We’re very proud that as a small country house hotel we are up there among the best when it comes to our food. It’s a great way to end our 2011 season, roll on 2012. I hope more people venture off the beaten track to find us and discover why we’re up there with the best.”