Buxton Crescent spa hotel review: Ancient waters soothe modern maladies at this historic spa hotel

This Grade I-listed landmark hotel revitalises and restores, says Damien Gabet

Damien Gabet
Wednesday 14 July 2021 09:26 BST
The thermal pool at Buxton Crescent
The thermal pool at Buxton Crescent (Buxton Crescent)

In a nutshell: A historic spa hotel to rival them all. It took 17 years and the spending power (£70m) of Ensana, Europe’s largest spa operator, to revive this Grade I-listed grand dame. It harnesses the Derbyshire town’s underground thermal springs, and guests can take the mineral-rich waters as the Victorians, Georgians and Romans did before them.

The neighbourhood

A neighbouring reservoir (Buxton Crescent)

There are few vistas more quintessentially English than those enjoyed on the road up to Buxton, through the Peak District. The area immediately around the hotel speaks of a glorious past, including Pavilion Gardens, with its Kew-esque botanical conservator, and chic Cavendish Arcade filled with boutiques, cafes and bars.

The look

The Buxton bar (Buxton Crescent)

Georgian neoclassical brawn at its finest, this architectural masterpiece is the stuff of Austenian dreams. Its interiors are eye-catching, if sometimes a little bling, with things hitting a high note in the bar: distressed mirrors, botanical wallpaper and brass fixtures channel the best of gin-palace Victoriana.

The vibe

A relaxation pool at Buxton Crescent (Buxton Crescent)

Historical continuity is a beautiful thing: bathing in the same waters, delivered in the same monumental environs as the Victorians and Georgians once enjoyed adds a dimension to the experience that feels unbeatable. Staff – while incredibly accommodating – felt a little green and somewhat out of step with the casual-not-casual service of England’s most popular hotels.

Bed and bath

A superior room at Buxton Crescent (Buxton Crescent/Ensana)

Four-poster beds, roll-top baths and on-brand toiletries are all well thought out. The sharp lines of the other fixtures feel a little at odds with the stately chassis of the rooms, but the palate is reassuringly muted, making it a space well tuned to bathrobe lounging while you wait for your next treatment.

Food and drink

Try the oxtail roulade at Buxton Crescent’s restaurant (Buxton Crescent/Ensana)

The restaurant’s menu is at once exciting and contextually appropriate. You’ll find imaginative takes on classic British dishes that use local and seasonal ingredients (don’t miss the oxtail roulade), while it looks great on the plate too. If you fancy eating out one evening, options span hearty Greek and Italian to old-world fine dining within a few minutes’ walk.

Pools, spas and public areas

The outdoor pool at Buxton Crescent (Buxton Crescent)

The hotel’s raison d’etre doesn’t disappoint. Looks-wise, the spa area marries its storied past (stained glass and cast iron) with clean lines and soothing hues. Start in the original thermal pool (refilled daily), which is naturally heated to 27.5C. After, move on to the celestially lit relaxation pool, finishing with a little hydrotherapy in the outdoor pool upstairs. The latter is where Insta-braggers should take photos.

Elsewhere, there’s a salt cave for harmonising one’s respiratory system, a trio of saunas (infrared, bio-thermal and Finnish) and a pair of steam rooms (regular and aromatherapy). Treatments are taken just as seriously, with a vast array of options ranging from a therapeutic hot mud bath – for those sore joints – to the Tranquillity Pro-Sleep. Most memorable, though, is the individual Buxton CO2 mineral bath experience – high blood pressure be gone!

Nuts and bolts

Room count: 81 rooms and suites

Freebies: Tea and coffee facilities and bottled water

In the bathroom: Toiletries by Penhaligons

Wifi: Free

Minibar prices: Anything can be ordered via room service and placed into the rooms/fridges upon request

Disability access: There are two accessible bedrooms

Pet policy: Charge of £20 per dog per night, with a maximum of one dog in a room. This includes a complimentary dog bed

Bottom line

Best thing: The spa

Worst thing: One or two inexperienced staff (though always pleasant)

Perfect for: A romantic spa weekend for fans of old-world charm

Instagram from: The outdoor rooftop pool

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