Stay Here: The Malabar, CumbriaBy Sam Holder
For all tea enthusiasts or people who love a cup of Rosy Lee – The Malabar is a boutique B&B nestled between two of Britain’s most breathtaking national parks, serving luxury loose-leaf tea directly to your bed. Yes, please.
The Malabar: The Lowdown
On the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, at the end of a narrow country lane, lies a hidden blend of cultures; a small slice of the British Raj in Southern Cumbria.
The Malabar is a converted 18th century traditional stone barn, framed by the picturesque Howgill Fells and adorned with a unique array of antique Asian furniture. It’s the personal collection of owners Graham and Fiona, who’ve lived and travelled extensively across the globe.
Along with a design-forward mix of rustic and luxury, there’s a big focus on tea. Both Graham’s father and grandfather were tea planters in Kerala, so it’s no surprise that the cuppa is held in high regard. Loose leaf ‘Bed Tea’ is brought to your bedroom door each morning at the time you request, while outside every room is a wooden bureau with kettles, teapots and different luxury blends that guests are free to brew. There are even glossy books and posters about the history of chai.
But tea isn’t the only thing that will have you stirring. Surrounded by verdant fields and rolling hills, this B&B is a perfect base for walkers and those looking to explore a truly beautiful corner of the country. The Winder Fell, an hour climb directly behind The Malabar, offers spectacular views of the Yorkshire Dales, while the Lake District can be reached in 15 minutes by car.
The Malabar: The Rooms
There are just six rooms at The Malabar. We stayed in ‘Camellia’ (the biological name for the tea plant), a large and stylish double-room, filled with art deco tables and turn of the century Indian armchairs, looking out onto the Winder Fell.
A supremely comfortable super king bed comes with a cashmere mattress that regulates your body temperature as you sleep. Even more impressive is the luxurious exposed brick bathroom, with walk-in shower, freestanding pastel yellow bathtub and local, natural products.
The Malabar: The Food (…and Tea!)
On arrival, afternoon tea is served, but there’s no Yorkshire Gold in sight here. Instead, 12 different loose-leaf brews form the tea menu, including those from China, Sri Lanka and India, served alongside local cakes and scones. Try the ‘Malabar House Blend’ (it seems rude not to), a mix of Darjeeling and Ceylon teas, that’s light and floral – a good pick-me-up after a 4 hour drive from London. The bespoke chai blend is also one of the finest you’ll taste outside of India.
Non-caffeinated teas are on offer for those who don’t want to stay up all night (and prefer to sink into those wonderfully soporific beds). Best of all is the excellent ‘Pillow Tea’, a soothing chamomile-lavender-rose mix created by Fiona.
Breakfasts are a perfect blend of Cumbria and India, with ample vegetarian options. Think porridge with jaggery, local venison with spiced scrambled eggs, Assam tea alongside traditional Punjabi lassis. The downside is that breakfast is the only real meal available at The Malabar. Thankfully the Three Hares restaurant in nearby Sedbergh (two miles away) features some truly exceptional cooking, showcasing the best of local, seasonal ingredients.
Back at The Malabar, for a nightcap there’s a very fairly priced honesty bar, with craft beers from a local microbrewery, a good selection of gins, whiskies and wines. Or you could sit back and sample another of those 12 varieties of top-notch loose-leaf teas…
For more information on The Malabar and to book, visit the website here.