Nestled in the depths of Cumbria, the Lake District is an area of natural beauty. Mountainous and vast, with breathtaking panoramic views, one could easily mistake it for New Zealand or Switzerland. Deep pools of water lay in the valleys between tall hills and mountains and lone sheep roam around the scruffy foliage, unperturbed by the occasional rambler. Picture perfect scenery keeps local and foreign tourists coming back to the destination year on year, especially in the summer months. Personally I love escaping the city and visiting the countryside in the depths of winter; feeling the crisp fresh air on your skin, battling the elements and enduring a bit of harsh weather before settling in for the night in front of a log fire with a glass of red wine and a plate of cheese. There are countless walking and climbing trails around the Lakes but anyone familiar with the North-West of England knows the amount of rain to fall from the sky each year exceeds that of almost any other area in the country. It is notoriously wet even in the summer months. No one is guaranteed those clear views of deep turquoise lakes framed by snowcapped mountains and rolling green hills, so you need an insurance policy in place. The Brimstone is that policy. A hotel so deeply luxurious, you may never even want to try and witness those views but instead enjoy the many cozy corners the that hotel houses. Cocooned in the plush furnishings and sofas of the hotel, one would be forgiven for forgetting a world outside these four walls exists.
Walking into the Brimstone you instantly feel relaxed. We stayed in one of their spacious mezzanine suites, the downstairs containing a dining area, a lounge with our own personal log fire, a balcony, a bathroom and a huge bathtub hidden away behind a sliding set of doors. The upstairs floor had yet another bathroom, a queen-sized bed and a dressing area. Add to that two smart TVs, an ipod dock, electronically operating curtains and various light settings actioned by the touch of a button. We were truly spoilt. The lounge was designed for long lazy evenings in front of the log fire, either settling in with a book or catching up on your favourite shows on the generously sized flat screen TV. Our first night was spent doing just this with a bottle of red and an authentically Italian pizza ordered from room service. We relocated to the hotel reading room later on for some cheese and another glass of merlot. We were on holiday after all…
The reading room is a place to kick back, get stuck into a great crime thriller and enjoy the complimentary snacks and beverages on offer. The room is open 24 hours and is constantly stocked with soft drinks, wine, beer, tea, coffee and depending on the time of day a different variety of snacks including fruit, scones, cakes, sandwiches and a cheese board. Big velvety armchairs await you and when we visited in December a tall twinkly Christmas tree stood proudly in the center of the room.
After an indulgent evening in, the next day we set out on a five-mile walk, which was recommended by our ever-helpful hostess at the hotel. Maps are provided and the hotel also has a fully kitted boot room, where guests can borrow hiking boots, top of the range waterproof clothing, rucksacks and torches, all of which came in useful for us. Stunning views awaited. As if the angels were smiling down on us, we enjoyed our four-hour journey on foot in glorious sunshine and with relatively clear skies. We only passed two other small groups of walkers on the way but plenty of sheep. A thin layer of snow crunched under our feet on the higher parts of the hilly terrain and icy winds pushed hard on the summit of the small mountain we’d climbed. But we were rewarded with views so spectacular and a feeling of remoteness that for a city girl was still a huge novelty; just us and the sheep. Greyish-white clouds were outlined by the golden glow of the sun behind them, dipping in and out of view. Mounted on a light blue sky, this only emphasized the thickly forested hills and snowcapped mountains in the distance. We stood at the top of this small mountain breathing it all in, surrounded by nature in its purest form. We were struck by the majesty and prettiness of it all.
Feeling a great sense of achievement, we rewarded ourselves with a visit to the spa. A dip in the pool and a trip to the steam room and sauna warmed up our frosty toes and left us feeling deeply relaxed. All just in time for our dinner reservations that evening (see Luxury in the Lakes part two).
Both mornings we took breakfast in our rooms, with steaming hot delights delivered straight to our door and enjoyed in our dining area. We had smoked salmon on scrambled eggs, fluffy pancakes doused in maple syrup, crisp mini pastries and fresh fruit salad. Of course there’s the option of a full English as well as a range of cereals and breads.
After a final dip in the indulgent bathtub, it was time for our stay at the Brimstone to come to an end and before we knew it we were whisked back to London and thrust back into our normal hectic lives. But we felt refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated after our luxury country break. The Brimstone is a hotel that really goes the extra mile to make your stay feel special. They lift all your worries from you on arrival and by the time you check out, you can barely remember what they were. It is luxury without stuffiness and elegance without pretention. There are various little touches that really make your stay memorable and it’s a hotel I can imagine myself returning to again and again.