Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore the Lake District. I fell in love with Grasmere after my first trip to the village on a whirlwind day trip that included a hike up The Old Man of Coniston and ended with a touristic stop by Wordsworth’s grave and the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop.
The romantic notions I developed that day only fueled my desire to return to the area for further exploration. As such, I leapt at the first opportunity I got, which included a stay at The Yan at Broadrayne.
You would be hard pressed to find a more idyllic setting for this understated boutique hotel whose eco-conscious operations and delicious bistro offerings already have me longing for another visit.
The Yan at Broadrayne is situated amongst the Lake District’s Central Fells and is just a stone’s throw from the village of Grasmere. It’s also midway between Windermere and Keswick, and 5 miles from Ambleside.
Just off the A591, it’s nestled in the most stunning location with views of the surrounding fells.
In the hotel’s room I found a delightful little book that included all kinds of interesting information about The Yan, including its history. This is a brilliant idea and just shows how important the details are to the individuals behind this contemporary, yet cosy, establishment.
As it turns out, the name ‘Broadrayne’ goes back to the old Norse language and means ‘broad’ as in wide, and ‘rein’ which means a long strip. The family that owns the land is quite certain that something of importance happened in the area given that the name has been around for so long.
The farm sits above what would have been the floodplain of the valley, and the farmhouse, which sits on a boulder, dates back to sometime around 1620. The family’s deeds and an early map also show that the farm has been enclosed by the stone walls in the area since before the 1720s.
There’s an outlying barn and various outbuildings around the farm with a history all their own, each contributing to the story of this beautiful space. The Yan building itself dates back to the early 19th century and was originally built as a stable and cow shed, and for the storage of hay, barley and oats.
Broadrayne has been breeding Lakeland Herdwick sheep for generations, though the family’s neighbours now tend to the sheep you see on the farm today. The sheep are also responsible for the name of this lovely establishment.
‘The Yan’ means ‘the one’ in the old Cumbrian dialect counting system still used for tallying sheep today.
The Yan features 7 ensuite bedrooms capable of sleeping 2 to 4 people. Standard or deluxe rooms are on offer, and 2 of the 5 rooms are pet friendly to accommodate ‘1 well behaved dog’.
The rooms are all named for the surrounding fells and feature Ultra HD smart TVs, free WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities, and rain head showers.
They’re furnished in a clean, contemporary and notably comfortable style that carries throughout the hotel and adjoining bistro.
There’s an emphasis on natural materials, including slate and wood, and the building makes gorgeous use of its natural light through well placed windows that provide breathtaking views. Some of the rooms feature an above bed skylight that feels especially magical.
The thoughtful building conversion feels a bit rustic meets recycled. You’ll find exposed beams, lightbulbs and a neat, neutral decor that fits right into the hotel’s natural surroundings.
Reusable water bottles are provided in guest rooms, and the owners thoughtfully refill toiletry bottles to cut down on further waste. They also make use of products such as ‘Who Gives a Crap’ loo paper all of which feels highly responsible without feeling overdone.
It’s also worth noting that The Yan has their own Biomass and Hydro schemes which you can learn more about in that fascinating little book I mentioned earlier.
Honestly, I never knew staying in a hotel could make me feel so good about doing something positive for the climate.
Dining – The Yan Bistro
If the stunning surroundings, eco conscious vibe, and downright fascinating history of this gem don’t already have you rushing to book a stay at The Yan, the bistro’s offerings most certainly will.
The Yan Bistro is open to the public, in addition to being the hotel’s onsite restaurant, and it’s easy to see why it’s recommended you book a table in advance.
Their seasonal menu featuring local ingredients and dishes with a modern twist on Cumbrian and British classics is, in a word, outstanding.
Chef Will may be classically trained, but his dishes are creative and inspired. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you his food is some of the best I’ve ever had, or that I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to figure out what to order because everything sounded (and looked) so amazing.
Though I was tempted by every dish I saw coming from the kitchen, I finally settled on the Smoked Squash and Oxtail soup as my starter. It was divine; the perfect combination of autumnal flavours. The oxtail practically melted in my mouth and the topping of goats cheese and toasted seeds was lush.
I hemmed and hawed the most about my main because everything, and I do mean everything, on the menu sounded amazing. In the end, I had to go with the ‘Now Famous Shepherd’s Pie’, and I now understand why it’s so famous.
It was the best shepherd’s pie I have ever tasted, and I suspect it will be a long time before I have anything that comes close to it again (unless I go back to the bistro, of course, which I have every intention of doing).
The slow braised Herdwick lamb was tender and delicious, covered in cheesy mashed potatoes that practically exploded with flavour. Cured ham topped the dish, and a side of sweet parsley garden peas accompanied it, lending to the dish’s traditional roots. Mark my word, this shepherd’s pie is better than anything traditional I’ve ever had and my mouth still waters when I think of it.
I didn’t have much room for pudding after my starter and main, but I couldn’t resist trying Chef Will’s “Fruit and Nut” mousse which was also a delicious twist on a classic favourite.
Dark chocolate mousse, topped with rum cream, candied hazelnuts, almonds and–the biggest surprise–a raisin puree. It was decadent, but not heavy at all, and the perfect way to finish off one of the best meals I’d had in a very long time.
The next morning I took advantage of one of the bistro’s simple, yet exquisitely prepared breakfast options. ‘The Yan Brekkie’ is the bistro’s take on a full english featuring thick cut sourdough toast, streaky bacon, delicious field mushrooms, and a portion of baked tomato, all topped with a perfectly prepared poached egg and the most gorgeous hollandaise sauce. It was a delicious way to start my morning before a memorable hike up Helm Crag.
The Yan Bistro is open for dinner Monday to Friday from 4:00pm to 8:45pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 3:00pm to 8:45pm. Breakfast is served daily from 8:00am to 9:45am.
As I mentioned earlier, booking a table in advance is highly recommended, and is essential for parties of 5 or more. You can also pre-order your meal in advance to ensure you don’t miss out on the dish of your choosing.
‘Well behaved dogs’ are also welcome to join you in the bistro so long as they’re on a lead.
It’s easy to see why The Yan Bistro is so beloved by hotel guests and locals alike. It’s a remarkable dining establishment that seems to have thought of everything.
Walks and Things to Do
The staff at The Yan are more than happy to assist if you need help deciding what to do during your stay. That said, it’s a walker’s paradise and its premiere location makes it possible to tackle Helm Crag, Fairfield, and even Helvellyn right from The Yan’s front door.
The staff are happy to advise on routes and have maps you can borrow. They also offer a drying room for wet boots and clothing, and a secure, heated bike store if you prefer 2 wheels over 2 feet.
Grasmere is just a 20 minute walk away if that’s more your speed, or you can take a 30-minute drive to Windermere, Coniston, or Keswick for an adventure a bit further afield.
I felt utterly at home at The Yan and I think that’s the hotel’s aim. Its friendly, no frills, ‘come as you are’ atmosphere is so refreshing, especially for someone like me who loves nothing more than a good wander, followed by a comfortable space in which to recover while enjoying a delicious meal. The Yan at Broadrayne offers all this and more.
I will definitely be booking in again during my next stay in the area, and look forward to trying Chef Will’s latest delights. I can practically taste them already.