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Best spa hotels in the Lake District 2023: Hot tubs, facials, massages and more

Where better to relax than the land that inspired the UK’s greatest painters and poets?

Lizzie Pook
Wednesday 15 March 2023 13:41 GMT
Wasdale Head Mountains in the Lake District
Wasdale Head Mountains in the Lake District

Every year, some 15 million people pitch up to explore the craggy fells and gleaming mountain tarns of the Lake District National Park. A list of places to explore for travel in England isn’t complete without popping the Lakes near the top of the list. But this place – once just a collection of remote Cumberland counties, bordered by the Irish Sea and the Pennines – didn’t even get its name until 1730.

Ever since the romantic poets arrived in the 19th century, Lakeland (as it’s known by locals) has been a cultural phenomenon, beloved by Wordsworth, Coleridge, Ransome and Beatrix Potter, who lived and wrote in the Lakes. Now a Unesco World Heritage Site, it’s as popular as ever, being one of England’s most scenic spots. This means you’ll need a restful hotel to kick back in and escape the crowds with a soothing spa session. Keep scrolling to see our pick of the best hotels in the Lake District for 2023.

Best spa hotel with scenic views: The Daffodil Hotel and Spa

Neighbourhood: Grasmere

With candle lanterns, fibre-optic lighting, brushed concrete walls and pops of abstract art, the spa at The Daffodil – on the shores of Grasmere, across the road from Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage – is modern and slinky. At its centre is a bubbly thermal pool enclaved by a sauna, steam room and tepidarium. The treatment menu is comprehensive – including mud Rasul treatments, regenerative massages and botanical facials using Germaine de Capuccini products. Rooms here are crisp and contemporary and most come with staggering lake or valley views.

(Voyage Privé UK/YouTube

Neighbourhood: Grasmere

Rothay is a homely hotel, strictly for grown-ups, where wholesome wellness goes hand in hand with a floor-to-ceiling windows kind of luxury. The intimate, light-filled spa comes with views across the fells to sparkling waters beyond and is the ideal space for easing walk-weary limbs. Choose between a dip in the circular whirlpool tub (or a watery lounge on the sunken beds) or warming your muscles in the infrared loungers, before putting your feet first with some reflexology on the hot stone walkway.

Best spa hotel for couples: Brimstone

The sauna and outdoor plunge pool at Brimstone

Neighbourhood: Windermere

Arguably the most sultry hotel in the Lakes, the chalet-style Brimstone comes with neutral-hued suites, side-by-side slipper baths, moody lighting and a private spa just for two. Set on the original site of a gunpowder works at the foot of a million-year-old volcano, it’s part of the picturesque Langdale Estate, surrounded by brooding fens, sinuous lakes and owl-flecked forests. Choose from candlelit massages and body treatments, get invigorated via the networks of foot baths, ice showers, steam rooms and saunas, then float on your back in the heated rooftop pool as the moon casts its glow across the water.

Doubles from £450 a night.

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Best boutique spa hotel: The Swan Hotel

Neighbourhood: Windermere

Tucked away on the first floor of the bijou Swan Hotel, which sits on the forest-fringed southern tip of lake Windermere, you’ll find a little spa haven. Here, treatments range from ESPA Swedish massages and bespoke intensive facials, to invigorating Indian head massages and detoxifying algae mud wraps. Apres-spa (definitely a thing), kick back in the river-view relaxation room or take a dip in the pool, flanked by colourful deckchairs and a little juice bar. Restless sorts can hill hike or potter around the local marina, before returning to saintly Buddha bowls and afternoon tea at The Swan Inn.

Best spa hotel with private hot tubs and pools: Gilpin Hotel and Lake House

A hot tub sauna lodge, surrounded by a walled garden, at Gilpin Hotel

Neighbourhood: Windermere

The folks at Gilpin Hotel & Lake House have built their brand on the ethos of “kicking back”. The Swedish-style Jetty Spa comprises a series of soothingly Scandi wooden buildings designed so you take a “spa trail”: winding through the deer-speckled forest, popping into private pools and spa suites, getting your knots kneaded in front of a roaring fire. Try hot stone massages in the early evening as the mists roll in, then treat your palate to the Michelen starred cuisine at Hrishi. If you want something more energetic, there’s fishing, shooting, horse-riding, mountain biking and paintballing, too.

Doubles from £305.

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Best family-friendly spa hotel: Low Wood Bay Resort and Spa

Neighbourhood: Windermere

This creeper-covered 18th-century coaching inn – with monochrome furniture and pops of tangerine – has had a splashy £20m refurb, adding a leisure centre and an entirely new bedroom wing to its offering. Once a working farm, it’s now home to a snazzy spa overlooking blustery Lake Windermere. With Himalayan salt scrubs; face, feet and scalp massages; and detoxifying hip and thigh massages using ESPA products (ideal for soothing weary hike-fatigued muscles), it’s perfect for those with indulgence in mind. The leisure centre houses a gym, indoor and outdoor infinity pools, and an outdoor sauna, and guests receive a 10 per cent discount at the on-site watersports centre. A family-friendly hotel, dogs are welcome too.

Best spa hotel for Lakeland views: Lodore Falls Hotel and Spa

The outdoor hydrotherapy pool at The Falls spa

Neighbourhood: Derwentwater

There’s nothing fussy about this lodge-style Victorian building, with its central tower, tall gables and a light touch and contemporary feel throughout. But its Falls Spa – overlooking the beautiful waterfalls, lakes and mountains of Derwentwater – is surprisingly swish, with a champagne bar, outdoor hydrotherapy pool, thermal suite and free boot hire so you can pound the surrounding walking trails with muddy glee. There’s also a private Rasul room for Arabian wellness rituals and unusual “liquid gold” scalp massages.

Doubles from £189.

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Best spa hotel for active types: Another Place

Neighbourhood: Ullswater

Georgian grandeur meets contemporary chic at Another Place, an outdoors-in sort of hotel, where windows open up onto views of sweeping fells and sails nosing their way across Ullswater lake. There are watery views from almost all of the 40 rooms and the Swim Club spa has an impressive water-facing infinity pool clad within sculptural glass-lined walls. The spa is a soothing sanctuary with two treatment rooms for massages, body scrubs, wraps and facials, and a snug for indulgent manicures and pedicures. Outside you’ll find a hot tub, perfect for stargazing (given this national park has two Dark Sky Discovery areas).

Price: Doubles from £210

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Best spa hotel near walking routes: Aphrodites Boutique Suites

Room 37 - the Rose Gold Suite - at Aphrodites

Neighbourhood: Windermere

With garden-view hot tubs on the patio, sultry steam rooms and a tranquil, glass-encased indoor pool, Aphrodites does indulgence really rather well. Set on sparklingly-manicured private grounds overlooking Windermere, most suites come with fancy Villeroy & Boch “spa bathrooms” with couple-sized air massage baths, log burning fires and a complimentary mini-bar (the Tranquil Retreat Suite even comes with its own Swedish barrel sauna). Treatments range from Hopi ear candle sessions, to cleansing back exfoliations, and there are tennis courts, hiking trails and blustery bike rides on your doorstep should you want something a tad sweatier.

Best dog-friendly spa hotel: Holbeck Ghyll Country House Hotel

Neighbourhood: Ambleside

From its elevated position on the shores of Lake Windermere, Holbeck Ghyll looks out towards the Old Man of Coniston, Crinkle Crags and Langdale Pikes – all places that sound like they should be in a Tolkien novel. Fires blaze in the cosy panelled sitting room while the restaurant serves up satisfying British grub, from pig’s cheek to Gigha halibut. The spa here is small but perfectly formed, offering Swedish massages, hot and cold stone treatments, reiki, reflexology and leg and back massages to cater to the tight hamstrings of ardent fell walkers. Dog-friendly rooms are available too. Take a look at our full review of Holbeck Ghyll here.

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