There was an instant wave of relief as we raced out of London on the high speed Virgin Pendolino train.
It was goodbye to the capital's packed Tubes, congested roads and pollution and full steam ahead for a lung-cleansing blast of fresh autumn air in the wilds of the Lake District.
Even more satisfying as we sat back and watched England fly by, was the knowledge that a stunning waterfront hotel, bracing walks, sumptuous food and scenic boat trips were all under three hours away.
In a flash we were pulling in to Oxenholme and our hire car – a hybrid Toyota from car-pool scheme Co-Wheels – was waiting outside.
Waterfront luxury: The Lakeside Hotel and Spa enjoys a spectacular position right next to Lake Windermere in the heart of the Lake District
Morning mist: Guests enjoy incredible views from the hotel, which is just 25 minutes from Oxenholme train station
It could not have been easier and within 25 minutes we were at the doors of the Lakeside Hotel and Spa – a grand waterfront building with original features, log fires and incredible views overlooking the southern tip of Lake Windermere.
A classically dreary British autumnal day, we decided to unpack in our spacious room and use up the rest of the afternoon in the hotel's family-friendly spa, a large pool with a children's area as well as a relaxing steam room and sauna.
For those needing to unwind further – or to ease tired muscles after a long walk – a number of facial and body treatments are also available in the Aveda spa.
Set on the southern shores of Lake Windermere, Lakeside Hotel was originally a 17th-century coaching inn used as a staging post and resting place for travellers working in the thriving cotton trade of Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Comfort: The Lakeside hotel rooms are spacious, beautifully furnished and very comfortable
Culinary delights: Lakeside hotel features two excellent eateries – John Ruskin's Brasserie and Lakeview Grill Restaurant
The area has gone on to become a hub for tourism and is a port of call for Windermere Lake Cruises, which whisk visitors up to busy Bowness and on further to Ambleside.
We enjoyed spectacular views on our way to Bowness before taking one of the suggested walks along the waterfront – a perfect excursion for families with young children who, like us, are not quite ready to scale the heights of Scafell Pike or crawl along the terrifyingly narrow ridge of Striding Edge at Helvellyn.
Back at the hotel, we sampled delights from the hotel's two outstanding restaurants. On one night, we enjoyed the likes of belted Galloway rib eye steak, beer battered fish and chips and dark chocolate fondant at the comfortable John Ruskin's Brasserie.
Tourist hotspot: The hotel is the perfect starting point for walks or boat cruises
Diners can look forward to the likes of Belted Galloway rib eye steak, beer battered fish and chips and dark chocolate fondant at the comfortable John Ruskin's Brasserie
The second night's offerings, at the more upmarket Lakeview Grill Restaurant included mouthwatering venison and scallop dishes. The meal was completed with a cheese board with a staggering range of options from across Europe.
Before our train back to London, there was just enough time to march up Gummer's How, a stunning viewpoint made easily accessible thanks to a car park five minutes from the hotel.
An invigorating 20 minute walk to the top is rewarded with breathtaking views looking down Windermere to the north while far down below, the Lakeside Hotel and lake cruisers look like tiny parts of a child's Lego set.
The hotel bills itself as the 'perfect place to escape'. On our long trek back to normality in London, I couldn't help but agree.
Rooms at the Lakeside Hotel and Spa start from £179, bed and breakfast. Visit www.lakesidehotel.co.uk, call 015395 30001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Train travel with Virgin Trains can be booked through www.virgintrains.co.uk.
For a boat trip with Windermere Lake Cruises, visit www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk.
For car rental through Co-wheels, visit www.co-wheels.org.uk/lake_district.