Gardening leave in the great indoors LYNSEY ELLIOT
Relaxes at Appleby Manor in Cumbria which has a spa with indoor and outdoor gardens...
A GARDEN Spa in Britain, you say? With our weather?
You’d be right to be surprised. But Appleby Manor in Cumbria has created the perfect garden spa both indoors and out.
And what a beautiful English country garden it is. There’s a potting shed, plants and trees aplenty, buckets and spades, rockeries, beautiful flowers, and... a hydro pool.
My husband and I started our aqua thermal journey in an aroma salt inhalation room, decked out with brick-style tiles, copper piping and pressure gauges that mimic household mechanisms.
Next door, there’s a wooden bench with climbing ivy growing up the wall behind, so we took a seat and enjoyed the massaging jets of the Pedidarium – an outdoor sink with copper tap.
Our next stop was the steam room, quickly followed by a cool down in the rain, sky and monsoon shower.
There was nothing traditional about the sauna either. Designed to look like a potting shed with its wooden slats, a steel bucket stood outside the door with water to stoke the heat. Hanging our robes on wallmounted trowels, we pulled the shovel door handle and sat on the wooden benches.
Mounted on the walls were wooden crates hiding the controls and looking like shelves on which to store pots and seeds.
A lot of thought has clearly gone in to the design and the attention to detail is amazing.
Even walking to and from each experience on the patio-style stone floor with silver planters dotted about was like walking outside – but warmer.
There’s a good-sized hydrotherapy pool to ease aching muscles and two outdoor spa baths, one of which sits in a cosy outdoor garden area complete with comfy seats, blankets and a fire pit.
The spa is modern but really complements the manor, which was built in 1871 in the idyllic countryside of the Eden Valley on the edge of the Lake District.
It’s surrounded by the North Pennines and is also close to the Yorkshire Dales.
I felt like the lady of the manor as we climbed the grand staircase to our room at the top of the stairs behind an old, heavy wooden door.
It was like stepping back in time to the turn of the 20th century with woodpanelled walls, dark wood furniture and an oldfashioned telephone.
I loved the little touch of a vintage suitcase on top of the wardrobe, too.
I settled down to a cup of tea – made from the wide selection of amenities in the room – and sat on the window seat admiring the view over the valley and Cumbria Castle.
Speaking of amenities, the bottled water in the room wasn’t just your usual bottle, it was Appleby Manor’s very own. A label hanging round the bottleneck read: ‘In our quest to be more environmentally aware, we have drilled our own water bore hole. We are happy to provide this, our own water, for your enjoyment.’
The food at the hotel was delicious.
The AA rosette-winning restaurant is as good as billed, with the chef serving up a mix of traditional dishes beautifully finished.
Starting with a drink and appetisers in the lounge area while making our choices, we were led to our table and soon greeted with an amuse bouche of butternut squash soup with truffle oil.
For starters, I ordered the Icelandic prawn ravioli and spicy fish broth, while my husband had the breast of pigeon on caramelised onion mash with celaric foam.
We both love a good steak so opted for the chargrilled aged sirloin of Lakeland beef served with dauphinoise potatoes, braised field mushroom and roast plum tomato, mine with Diane sauce and my husband’s with garlic sauce.
The latter wasn’t actually on the menu but the chef was more than happy to conjure up a garlic and white wine sauce. That’s service for you!
For dessert I was drawn to the crème brulee – a firm favourite of mine – the other half going for the trio of chocolate puddings which included a rich dark chocolate ganache.
Full to the brim, I reluctantly agreed to have a game of pool in the games room before lounging by the fire and browsing one of the many information booklets dotted throughout the hotel with ideas about what to do in the area.
After a great night’s sleep and a soak in the spa bath complete with television, we headed downstairs for breakfast.
We were greeted with a sign on the restaurant door saying: ‘This door leads to your delicious breakfast’ – a lovely quirky touch.
There was a vast, fresh continental buffet to choose from and then a hot breakfast to order.
Surprise, surprise the other half went for the full English but I liked the look of the American-style pancakes with blueberry compote and maple syrup.
All relaxed with full tummies and a wealth of knowledge about the surrounding area from the hotel resources, we headed off to explore.
Appleby Manor Hotel
The spa pool