Designing National Parks Hotels

When designing for any hotel, setting plays a vital role. Where is it located? How does the hotel in question fit into these surroundings? In what ways can we – as designers – develop and enhance each site in order to improve its existing area?

Therefore, when designing for hotels that are already set against backdrops of extraordinary, existing natural landscapes, such as the extensive UK National Parks, it offers us – as architects – exciting, new challenges to develop hotels in these areas.

At HPA, we have acquired almost fifty years of specialist leisure knowledge, having designed nationally for a wide variety of hotels. As a result, we have been approached countless times by clients who we maintain longstanding partnerships with, because we recognise their visions and share their view of preserving these areas of beauty.

Wildsmith Hotels have been long-term clients of HPA for over ten years now, and we have designed and worked alongside them on their two properties: The Forest Side, located in Grasmere, and Hipping Hall, in Bowness-on-Windermere. Both fall inside the impressive tourist destination of the Lake District.

We set out to find a unique and innovative approach that not only rewards and gives back to surrounding nature, but also contributes to the sense of luxury and place that Wildsmith perfectly encapsulates.

When designing for The Forest Side, it was important to enable guests in feeling connected with its Victorian precedents, whilst still being able to enjoy 21st century luxuries. We attained this by devising a scheme that allowed for visual links between the kitchen and its renowned dining space – without visually impacting the building.

We also helped improve The Forest Side’s locality, providing the creative solution of sourcing its own produce from a contemporary kitchen garden and greenhouse. The Forest Side restaurant is now Michelin-starred, with the hotel itself later winning UK’s Best Country Hotel of the Year from Good Hotels Guide.

The woodlands and surrounding fellside were also taken into consideration during the Planning stages, where we preserved the safety of the wild species that can often be found onsite, retaining original Victorian features that were later scattered around the grounds – even improving existing, external facilities with the planting of a new fruit orchard.

Similarly, with Hipping Hall, we maintained the same attention to detail in order to repurpose and reimagine the Grade II Listed building and its former stables. Sitting between two National Parks – the Lakes and the Yorkshire Dales – HPA’s design for the hotel pays homage to its nearby rivers, fells, and meadows.

We wanted to capture the sense of landscape here, working alongside a specialist landscape architect to achieve this feeling – and as such, have promoted a luxury retreat with unspoiled views that explores the best of what the northwest has to offer.

To explore the sites we have worked on for Wildsmith Hotels, click here.

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