WHO WENT Ceri Clifford, 31, from Chester, and husband Ben, 37, parents to Bobby, 18 months
WHERE WE WENT Brimstone Hotel at the Langdale Estate, near Ambleside, Lake District
After dropping off Bobby with his grandparents, where we knew he would be thoroughly spoiled for a night, we set off for some spoiling of our own. It’s an easy two-hour drive through the Lakes but with the sun shining, we stopped off for a spot of lunch alongside Windermere before admiring the tranquillity of Coniston Water before our 3pm check in.
Sitting on the 35 acre Langdale Estate in a peaceful valley, the 16-room Brimstone Hotel is epitome of laidback luxury. There’s no formal reception – instead, Brimstone has a number of ‘hosts’ who are discreetly on hand to help and always at the end of the phone. They do everything from park your car to come and light the fire in your room, bring you a midnight snack or organise a day of activities.
There’s also a cosy Reading Room with complimentary hot, cold and alcoholic drinks, plus snacks, for guests to help themselves, 24 hours a day.
Our mezzanine suite was enormous, beautifully decorated in a palette of earthy grey, plum and sage, with a hint of glam silver and velvet, plus natural wood and stone. Downstairs boasted a squishy sofa and armchair around a centrepiece wood burning stove, plus a dining table, loo and a huge secret bathtub behind sliding doors. Upstairs there was a comfy kingsize, second TV and bathroom with rain shower. But our favourite part was the balcony looking out onto the tree filled estate.
The attention to detail was impressive, from the playful lighting settings (perky or sexy?) to the soft lambswool blankets on the balcony in case it gets chilly, the GHD hair straighteners and the cocktail recipe cards in the minibar. Our every whim was catered for.
It was tempting to hole up in our room but we grabbed our bathing suits and headed to the spa next door to take enjoy the 20m pool, Jacuzzi, sanarium, steam and tropical shower. An extensive list of treatments is available and for the more energetic, a well-equipped gym.
On our way back to our room, we stopped off at the Reading Room for a scone with jam and cream, and a beer, which I drank in the secret bathtub (only to give the facilities a thorough test, you understand…).
TIME FOR DINNER
The estate offers various meal options, including an in-room menu, Terrace restaurant (Mediterranean fare), Hobson’s bar (snacks, burgers and afternoon tea) and Wainwrights pub. But we opted for a more formal meal Purdey’s, set in the estate’s former mill. While it has a more classic décor than Brimstone, the food is thorough modern.
We started with scallops and a delicious ham hock terrine, followed by fillet of dry-aged beef for Ben that was melt in the mouth. But my main was the winner – stone bass perfectly cooked and served on a bed of crushed potatoes with samphire and an oyster beignet, a deep fried spicy addition I could have polished off five of. We ended with a fancy custard slice followed by a delicious cheese board.
Thoroughly stuffed, we staggered back to our room and, you’ve guessed it, stopped in the Reading Room for a glass of vino and (don’t judge us) some more cheese, which we scoffed in front of our fire.
THE MORNING AFTER
With the electronic curtains blacking out the room completely, we slept right up until the arrival of breakfast. With the sun shining, we opted to dine on the balcony in our complimentary dressing gowns, but guests can also choose to eat at Purdey’s.
There’s a huge choice – Ben loved his smoked salmon and scrambled eggs while I went for eggs Benedict, both of which arrived piping hot, as was our croissants, thoughtfully placed in a warm cotton bag. The only blip was the sound of a nearby lake being dredged but it was still pretty idyllic.
Afterwards, we attempted to burn off the calories by tackling the estate nature walk. It was steeper in parts that I’d imagined (not one for the pregnant ladies) but rewarded us with lovely views across to Loughrigg Fell.
For serious walkers, or if you visit in bad weather, Brimstone has a Berghaus room with boots and waterproofs to borrow. They really have thought of everything.
Rooms from £250 per night, including breakfast, access to the Reading Room and spa, and free Berghaus kit hire. Book direct more than 30 days in advance for a 20 per cent discount. Call 015394 38062 or visit brimstonehotel.co.uk
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