Top 5 spa retreats in the English Lake District

The English Lake District is home to some of the purest water sources in the world. In 2017 millions of pounds are being spent in the region capturing this liquid gold in the form of world-class spa experiences. Let’s take a closer look. The 2,362 km² mountain region splits into 13 glacial valleys, cradling 16 lakes, several more tarns, many rivers, streams and natural springs. This really is one of the most soothing and refreshing landscapes to enjoy a spa break.

The volcanic mountains drain fresh rainwater, of which the Lake District is blessed with some of the highest levels in the UK, down and into the valley basins, collecting the mineral wealth that is unique to the Lake District on the way. The pedigree of the health-giving benefits of the Lake District’s exceptionally pure water has been enjoyed as far back as the 12th Century, where Augustinian Monks discovered the ‘Holy Well’ in Cartmel. Here, we introduce the newest and best spas in the Lake District for 2017. Check them out and then break out your abacus in an attempt to calculate the real value of these luxury experiences.

Brimstone Spa, Langdale  

Located on the original site of a gunpowder works, at the foot of a million-year-old giant volcano, the fiery Brimstone Spa is the culmination of a far from explosive 2-year refurbishment. Finally, and exquisitely completed in December 2016, this is an impressive and exclusive “couture” spa.

Set within the “beyond boutique” Brimstone Hotel in Langdale, in the Central Lake District, the award-winning architecture competes nicely with the most photographed skyline in the UK that surrounds it.

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The 990sqm Spa, with pool, treatment rooms and deli, is now the most highly regarded in the UK and with experiences of ice, fire and natural magnesium, this is a volcanic experience like no other.

A visit to this glorious spa will transport you to a world where digital data streams are replaced by natures rhythmic ebbs and flows. However, there are some notable figures that will pique interest – Brimstone is the culmination of a £4.5m investment, which includes 16 luxuriously-priced hotel suites and 16, incidentally, is the element number of Brimstone (sulphur).

With a fiery legacy of gunpowder and volcanos, the healing thermal nature of fire is a theme throughout the Brimstone Spa. In fact, sulphur (Brimstone) is the third most important mineral in a healthy human body as well as a key ingredient in gunpowder production! And some of the healthiest populations are those that live on volcanic landscape and so the provenance of this spa experience doesn’t get much better.

Your thermal journey starts with reflexology footbaths and continues throughout 7 various thermal treatment rooms including:  the dry Laconium, Lava, Herbal and soothing Finnish Sauna’s; detoxifying Himalayan Salt Steam Experience; 100% humidity Steam Bath; Invigorating thermal shower experiences and an Ice Flake Fountain to stimulate circulation and strengthen the immune system.

Located centrally, within the most important peaks in England, this is a landscape carved out by dramatic extremes in temperatures and the ‘breaking of the rulebook’ style of this spa reflects this unique panorama. The Brimstone Spa is for the avant-garde, looking for exclusivity and the ultimate in luxury.

Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa, Windermere

This is a world-class resort, set on England’s most majestic and largest Lake, Windermere. The new 2017 spa lives up to this global accolade too, offering a unique “thermal journey that will take your senses right around the world”.

There is nothing low key about Low Wood Bay Spa. The bay setting is quite simply one of the most beautiful views in the world and the original building is over 300 years old. The new, state-of-the-art spa, a significant part of a £16.5m refurbishment, is designed to offer guests a world-class resort experience.

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This is not your restrained spa, more of a super-luxe ‘Disney for grown-ups’, complete with heated outdoor infinity pool, overlooking Windermere and the spectacular Lakeland mountains, sauna, steam room and Canadian hot tubs, also with enviable lake and mountain views.  For post-spa refreshment, there’s a garden terrace and refuelling at the impressive ‘Charcoa’, South American wood fired grill, completes the experience.

Impressing the global elite has long been part of Low Wood Bay’s story. Bought on Christmas Day in 1952 by Norman Bucket, 6 times World Water Speed Record holder, relaxing and soothing muscles after a day on the water, alongside fellow water enthusiasts, is what this hotel does best. Water sports are an integral part of Low Wood Bay and so attracts a range of clientele, from serious adrenalin junkies enjoying jet skis to leisure-seeking yachtsmen, all enjoying the excellent leisure pool and health club facilities.

This is a destination spa where there is a resort buzz that sociable spa-goers flock to.

Appleby Manor Hotel and Garden Spa

Nestled on the side of England’s secret hillside, the Eden Valley, in the north Lake District, the modest Appleby Manor Hotel and Garden Spa is a thoughtful blend of tranquillity, history and innovation.

This miniature version of an English country manor, with its 21st Century spa (added in 2015), is a deliciously modern space to unwind, in one of the most remote valley’s in England.

Yes, you come here to get away. To escape. Just as you step outside of your office or your home to ‘breath’, this is what you get when you visit Appleby Garden Spa. It is set within 250 acres of open land, but it is the twisty, tiny ‘Roman Road’ that leads you to Appleby Manor where you begin to drop the shackles of the daily grind.

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The ‘Garden Spa’ is part of a £1m ongoing refurbishment, including a garden terrace or gym planned for above the pool hall, in 2017. Escape the rest of the world with their £175 ‘Extravagance’ package, serving up a 3 hours of treatments, lunch, private outdoor hot tub and use of the Aqua Thermal area.

Modern meets traditional, with quirky vertical gardens and Belfast sink ‘Pedidarium’ basins, in this informal yet traditional spa. The enclosed outdoor spa garden includes a lounging area with fire pit and a couple of hot tubs that can be used for private hire, which is all blissfully idyllic.

With a limit of 24 people in the spa at a time, Appleby’s Garden Spa is more about grace and charm than grandeur.

Strictly not located within the Lake District borders but wonderfully cradled between England’s northern-most peaks – the North Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and the Lakes – Appleby Manor Garden Spa is only 12 miles from the Lake District National Park. Its fascinating history, originally built for John Alcock Heelis, related through marriage to Lake District’s great steward, Beatrix Potter, author of the Peter Rabbit Tales, is a telling Lake District connection.

Whilst the Spa’s Aqua Thermal journey, including various heat experiences to slowly raise your body temperature, spacious indoor hydrotherapy pool including 4 special water experiences (we recommend the shoulder cannons) and underwater massage loungers to ease tensions, isn’t something that the original proprietor John Heelis would have experienced, a few hours whiled away here is certainly time well invested.

Gilpin Lake House Jetty Spa and Spa Lodges, Windermere 

A Gilpin spa experience is one of the finest intimate experiences in the Lake District. Set in private grounds away from any hustle and bustle, yet only a 10 minute drive outside of Windermere, in the South Lake District, the Gilpin is about escaping and relishing their “decompression chamber” of relaxation.

Historically, as today, the Gilpin is a place dedicated to “nourishment, recuperation and relaxation”.

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Traditionally a country house hotel, the Gilpin’s offering has grown to include a second property.  The Lake House has undergone a subtle but avant-garde series of renovations around a beautiful private tarn, 100 acres, a floating Jetty Spa, as well as more recently, a one-of-a-kind “lagoon” of Spa Lodges. And it is these new spa offerings, as well as their Michelin star restaurant, which makes this one of the best places to visit for a relaxing retreat in the Lake District.

Whilst, classically, spas were social hubs, the Gilpin’s unique “in-room” Spa Lodge experience and tree top floating Jetty Spa are a much more intimate offering.

Stay in one of 5 individually designed Spa Lodge’s and enjoy a completely unique and private retreat. Inside you private Spa Lodge enjoy a king size bed, fire, statement stone bath and a state-of-the-art music system as well as an exclusive and transformable en-suite spa and private terrace garden.

Your very own “in-room” spa journey could start with a rainforest experience in the superb rainmaker shower, followed by treatments to relaxing music within your suite. Cleanse the skin by popping into your very own steam room and then into your personal sauna to boost circulation and blood flow. Perhaps a relax on your private terrace before enjoying the soothing qualities of the ultra-modern outdoor ‘Cube’ hydrotherapy hot tub with 27 jets. Surrounded by a Lakeland stone walled garden, this is a mini Lake District paradise that is all yours!

Alternatively, ideal for larger groups, you can hire all 6 suites in the Lake House and indulge in the 3-meter-high Jetty Spa experience and unique ‘Gilpin Trail’, where you’ll find yourself wrapped in a robe on a woodland trail breathing in the healing quality of the Lake District’s dewy, clean air, before enjoying an aroma massage with a personalised blend of Organic Aroma Fusions.

This is the perfect couple’s spa experience, especially perfect for celebrating a special occasion and creating private memories that you’ll treasure.

Armathwaite Hall Country House & Spa, Bassenthwaite 

Perfect for a girl’s getaway or mum and daughter experience, this is a light-hearted, but high in quality destination spa. It doesn’t take itself too seriously yet its grand setting makes you feel a million dollars. In fact, the contemporary spa that sits within this historical building is the result of a multi-million pound spend, the largest investment in the hotel’s history. But, it is the welcoming and cheery atmosphere which makes this spa such a success.

The bubbles of the large garden hot tub-come-infinity pool are matched by those in your glass of fizz as you and a group of friends look out over manicured gardens and towards Bassenthwaite Lake and the Lakeland fells beyond.

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Whilst the two story spa is set within a majestic castle-like manor, it isn’t at all stiff. There are no judgements here, making it ideal for a three-generation, relaxing and enjoyable spa day. Indoor, the shallow Wallow Pool (1m) is perfect for those less confident in water, an impressive Aroma Room warms the body up before the more intense experiences of the Steam Room, for those looking for a more results-driven experience.

It is the view and setting of the impressive garden hot tub pool, which really is the star of the show here. Your senses bathe in the great swathe of greenery that is the huge manicured croquet lawn and box hedges that you look down on. The surrounding giant trees and rhododendron bushes give you a feeling of scale and grandeur. In fact, it’s not unusual to see a helicopter landing here, bringing guests for lunch.

Inside, the bar-style lounge with curved sofa’s, designed around a feature floor-to-wall fireplace wouldn’t be out of place in a London club and is perfect for raising a toast. If it’s not the clinking of flute glasses and shrill of laughter you’re looking for, this spa has an excellent Hush room for some zen time. And as with many of the spa’s in the Lake District, watch out for extensions coming in the Summer this year.

Indeed, another one to watch are the major renovations at the Lodore Hotel on Derwentwater, with the Lodore Spa due to open in Spring 2018. Time to splash some cash.

Paul Liddell is the Managing Director at Lakelovers.

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