Antonia Peck escapes to the Lake District to try a luxurious massage room and spa set high in the tree canopy, and discovers a romantic getaway with a difference….
With fur-lined wellington boots on and hoods up, guests walk happily across to The Gilpin Hotel & Lake House (part of the Relais & Châteaux group but owned by the Cunliffe family since 1919). The Gilpin provides the most serene, bucolic weekend retreat, with a deserved reputation for homely hospitality and luxury detailing. There are six characterful suites at the Lake House, each interior designed in a palette of earthy, country colours with sumptuous big beds and modern fixtures and fittings. The rest of the Lake House invites you to enjoy its furnishings as if it were your own ancestral home. Guests (a maximum of 12 at any one time) can take afternoon tea in front of the roaring fire, with an ear-marked book and soft blanket after a long walk in the beautiful surrounding countryside. It’s a homely vibe that is personified by the dedicated approach of Zoe Cunliffe, whose passion for the hotel comes across in her commitment to making guests feel as happy, relaxed and as welcome as possible.
Guests choose The Gilpin Lake House over the hotel for its more intimate vibe, making it perfect for couples in need of relaxation and escapism. Accordingly, Zoe describes how “The Lake House is the perfect decompression chamber for couples needing some precious time together.” It is for this reason that the spa offering has been developed further. The Lake House previously offered guests a small indoor pool and sauna with an open-air hot tub and in-room spa treatments. This was perfectly lovely, but the Lake House has now become an even more desirable destination for those in need of some tender love and care with its new Jetty Spa Trail. The new spa has a Swedish-style treatment room built to blend into the environment by being raised three metres into the tree canopy, with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the lake and (fake) fur rugs languishing over the massage tables.
The sensory experience begins with an aromatherapy consultation in which a bespoke blend is created depending on your ailments. Guests are then invited to enjoy a private swim in the pool followed by a relaxing salt snug with an iced fruit frappe and reviving salt scrub shower. From here, guests go through the woods to the treatment room in the tree canopy to enjoy a massage. Choose from aromatherapy, “al fresco” or Lava Shell massage. Treatments are followed by cream tea in the boathouse and a little champagne in the open air Japanese Ofura hot tub. It’s a spoiling and unique experience to have a spa treatment that brings you so incredibly close to nature, and it has a very grounding effect. City dwellers used to spa treatments where the surroundings amount to a damp ceiling and spotlights will really revel in this spa trail. Whatever the British weather brings, this is a sensory spa journey that has a deep impact.
The Jetty Spa Trail is exclusive to guests staying at The Gilpin Lake House and costs £300 per couple. The Gilpin Lake House offers suites from £485 per night including dinner, bed and breakfast, and complimentary transfers to and from The Gilpin Hotel for dinner (based on two people sharing).
The Gilpin Lake House is two miles from Lake Windermere and a short distance from Oxenholme Train Station, with regular trains running from Euston Train Station.
The Suites: Named after the six Cunliffe sisters – Harriet, Gertie, Adgie, Beatrice, Maude and Ethel.
Award-Winning Food: Breakfast and Afternoon Tea are served at The Lake House. For dinner and lunch, a private chauffeur takes Lake House guests to dine at the main hotel to enjoy a five-course meal of locally sourced, fresh and mainly organic produce. Alternatively, guests can commission head chef Daniel Grigg to create a bespoke dining menu for a party of up to 25 guests. Guests can also browse a collection of over 200 wines in the wine cellar.
Places To Visit: Dalton Castle, Holker Hall, Hill Top Near Sawrey, Hawkshead (the home of Beatrix Potter) and Wordsworth House, Cockermouth.
Activities: The Gilpin team can help organise a round of golf with the Gilpin Golf School, pony-trekking or horse-riding, mountain biking, fishing and even a Food Safari with a champion of the Slow Food movement – Annette Gibbons.
Contact: Go to www.thegilpin.co.uk or call 015394 88818.