The Lake District is a world away from the red carpets and showbiz parties of London and LA, yet the charming region in northwest England has attracted an impressive roll call of A-list stars. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were reported to have rented out a waterside lodge for a family break. Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron spent time there when filming Hollywood blockbuster Snow White and the Huntsman. While the locals in Bowness-on-Windermere will still tell you about the time Taylor Swift and then boyfriend Harry Styles were spotted during a romantic minibreak.
The Lake District is a very popular destination with celebrities
One of the coolest places to stay is The Belsfield, on the Eastern shore of Lake Windermere overlooking Belle Isle. It has all the charm of a traditional lakeside hotel with the service and style of a top class venue.
In a clever twist you can even be inspired to replicate some of its good looks back home.
As you sink back into a luxurious sofa, gaze adoringly at a stunning chandelier, or wish that your bed at home was as comfortable as those at The Belsfield, you can take note to buy the exact items because the hotel, part of the Corus Hotels group, has been completely refurbished using Laura Ashley designs and products.
It now boasts 62 designer bedrooms, each with their own style so it truly can be a home-from-home.
It's not hard to imagine how this boutique hotel was once a grand private residence, built in 1845, as it retains the kind of charm that a modern purpose-built hotel would find hard to recreate, with its old-fashioned gated lift, surprising treats including a stairway to a turret bedroom (number 73), and its idyllic location set in six-acre gardens that slope down towards the waters-edge.
After welcoming drinks in the stylish bar, there is a choice of five-course dining in the Lake View Restaurant (a total treat with its impressive menu and picture-perfect views) or a more casual but equally delicious brasserie. Whichever you choose you will no doubt meet up with Albert Waldon, the charismatic and attentive food and beverage manager who has been with The Belsfield long enough to know that it is now at an all-time high in what it can offer guests.
As easy as it would be to wallow in the hotel's luxurious surroundings, there is too much to tempt you outside. While we can't promise a close encounter with the likes of Harry Styles, there is certainly more than one direction to enjoy a weekend break in the Lakes.
Hire a rowing boat which delivers both calorie burning and romance, or sit back on a 30-minute cruise from Bowness to Ambleside, stopping off at mock-gothic Wray Castle on the way back which was a favourite of Peter Rabbit author Beatrix Potter (portrayed by actress Renee Zellweger in the title role of the movie Miss Potter, which was filmed in the Lakes).
There's a real sense of coming home when from the steamer you catch a glimpse of The Belsfield (part of the pleasure is surely from knowing there is a delicious cream tea just waiting to be enjoyed.)
Further afield but under an hour by road is Blackpool where you can take in the delights of the Tower Ballroom where Strictly Come Dancing descends for its annual live show. Signed posters of some of Strictly's professional dancers declare it the best place in the world to dance, and for less than £3 you can buy a ticket that allows you access to the balcony to watch as couples of all ages do just that.
But when it comes to first dances, the award-winning hotel on the edge of the lake is hard to beat. It's become a sought-after wedding venue with few others able to offer such an incredible backdrop and location. Some newlyweds take their guests on a cruise as part of the celebrations.
In part of its grand history The Belsfield was once the home of wealthy Henry Schneider, chairman of the Barrow Steelworks, whose staff would line up every morning to witness his departure. And no doubt his homecoming too. This is definitely a place to enjoy coming back to, time after time.
www.lauraashleyhotels.com/thebelsfield for more information, and Christmas and New Year packages.