Go for the baths alone...
If you can book a trip to Brimstone in the next couple of weeks, then I really insist that you do. Brimstone Hotel and Spa is quite possibly the most beautiful place I have ever visited. And part of the reason is because of the colours. It will be winter before we know it, and the Autumnal hues really do create the most spectacular vista. (One of my Instagram followers asked if I was holidaying in Heaven.)
If you struggle to book in before the last leaf falls to the floor, no matter for the hotel itself is just as amazing…
It took us just over four hours on the train from London, with one change. Don’t worry about booking a taxi, you’ll be collected by hotel staff in their branded Land Rover Defender. It’s slap bang in the middle of the Lake District, just north of Lake Windermere, on the Langdale Estate. On the Estate, there’s also the Langdale hotel, vast timeshare holiday homes, their own pub – Wainwrights Inn – a restaurant, serving delicious food and a leisure centre, complete with 20m pool. But Brimstone’s Hotel and Spa is the jewel in the crown.
Despite the location, you aren’t actually situated on a lake. It’s in a slight valley, surround by the Langdale Pikes, which make for picturesque hike. You’re a very short walk from Elterwater – be sure to have a pint at The Britannia (surely the tiniest bar in the UK?!) – and a stunning half an hour riverside amble to Skelwith Bridge. Pop into Chesters By The River – this is where you can get your shopping fix for the weekend – for cute gifts, pretty interiors, as well a great veggie café and on-site bakery.
There are 16 rooms in total at Brimstone, which has been built to look like a Swiss ski chalet, and each one is bloody massive. But when you book ask for Room 2. It’s directly opposite the Reading Room (more on that later) and has two bathtubs. Not one in the bathroom and one in the bedroom – twin rolltop tubs directly next to one another at the end of the bed. Excessive? Non! Essential. It means that you and your guest can bathe at the same time (without the awkward: ‘could you possibly move your foot? It’s poking me in the -‘) whilst you both watch TV. After a long day’s walking I promise you’ll see the appeal. There’s also a double walk-in shower room, a slightly excessive lounge seating area and your own fireplace, which really is the cherry on the cake. The decor is definitely modern, not farmhousey like you might expect from a countryside getaway, but still very comfortable. It’s light and airy thanks to the floor to ceiling windows that look out onto the expansive balconies. Look out for the rather hilarious mood lighting panels – the night light is called ‘tinkle’.
A couple of days before you arrive at the hotel, you’ll get a call from your ‘host’ who asks questions like: ‘what type of pillow do you prefer? Goose feather? Memory foam?’ and ‘which newspaper would you like delivered straight to your door in the mornings?’. If you tell them that it’s a special occasion, they’ll make sure there’s something fizzy waiting for you in your room. If you mention that you plan on walking, you’ll find detailed maps waiting for you.
At Brimstone they really, really want you to relax. There isn’t the formality of a reception desk with a concierge – there’s The Reading Room and your ‘hosts’. The Library is everything in one – the welcome area, the meeting point, the bar, the café. This is where you’ll find complimentary scones, cakes, sandwiches, as well as beer, wine and soft drinks throughout the day. They encourage you to take things back to your room. Your hosts welcome you at the beginning of your stay and wave you off at the end, and in between are at your beckon call, contactable with one push on your phone. There’s a fully-stocked Arc’teryx boot room, meaning that if you don’t have all of the wet weather (this is the Lake District) gear you won’t miss out on any activities. You see other guests now and then, but you really don’t need to leave your room and you most likely won’t want to, unless to head off on a walk or hit the spa.
The spa. It has ten thermal ‘experiences’, as well as an indoor/outdoor pool. The thermal ‘experiences’ include well-known treatment areas, like saunas and steam rooms, alongside less familiar ones, like a laconium room, which boosts circulation, and an ice fountain. You’re meant to make your way around in a certain order, but it’s totally not essential. Outside, there’s even a couple of cosy sofas sat nestled around a roaring fire – we honestly felt like we were somewhere in Scandinavia, not Cumbria. We both had brilliant Pure Alchemy body treatments, which is a brand exclusive to the spa that utilises local produce. You can easily while away a whole afternoon at the spa, because once it hits 12pm – they start serving champagne in plastic glasses. Perhaps not the most well-advised move, but it was bouji and we liked it.
But if you can, get in there first thing at 8am, because at 9am they open it up to the rest of the estate it gets busy. Too busy. My only complaint is that they should monitor how many people they allow into the spa at a time, because it isn’t an expansive space and at one point the pool looked like a human soup bowl, with people waiting their turn for a swim.
Stays at Brimstone Hotel & Spa start at £350 per room – this include access to the spa, breakfast, complimentary Arc’teryx gear hire and access to all the goodies in the Reading Room.