With all the wedding and honeymoon excitement this year, when Rob's birthday rolled around we were both ready to relax. I thought it'd be nice to escape to a pretty country hotel, so I was delighted when the Gilpin Hotel and Lake House offered us a one-night stay and a chance to discover their spa facilities.
The Gilpin is nestled in the Lake District, about a 2 hour drive from Leeds and somewhere I've shamefully never visited before. It's an absolutely beautiful place, and my eyes were wide as saucers as we drove down the twisty, tree-lined lane towards the hotel.
I was genuinely blown away by this place. We stayed in the Lake House, which is the Gilpin's spa hotel and is about half a mile away from the main building, down a country track. It feels very remote and peaceful and is surrounded by the most beautiful scenery I think I've ever seen.
When we arrived on Tuesday, the fields were bathed in sunshine and the lake glistened and glimmered. It was truly magical.
The Gilpin pride themselves on their decoration style and there's a real focus on the interiors. On their website, there's a section describing the interior design of each room which tells you the style of wallpaper used, what fabrics feature in the room and where the curtains are from. It's such a lovely touch and shows just how much thought has gone into the space.
We stayed in the Beatrice room and I squealed with delight when I saw the country tweed, French florals and exposed wood...
... offset by a super chic bathroom and stunning views over the hills. Just amazing.
After a few quick snaps and a change into fluffy bathrobes, we were led downstairs by Spa Manager Jo to start our Jetty Spa Trail. The Jetty is the Gilpin's spa facility and their Spa Trail is the bespoke couples' spa experience. We started with an aromatherapy consultation - Jo asked us what scents we liked and gave us some essentials oils to sniff - our three favourites would be used to create custom products used in our Spa Trail. I chose jasmine, mandarin and frankincense and Rob went for lemon, cedarwood and cypress.
With our noses satisfied, Jo showed us to the pool area which was booked out just for us. I didn't take my camera to the pool (for obvious, not-wanting-to-look-like-creepy-weirdo reasons) but the space was beautiful - really serene and luxurious. We swam, lounged, sat in the salt snug with delicious fruit cocktails then hopped in the shower with our personalised salt scrubs.
Once we were feeling fully revitalised, Jo came with two pairs of wellies and fleecy socks and took us over to the spa cabin - a little wooden structure raised up on stilts, overlooking the lake. I was utterly blown away by this room - flickering fires stood in each corner, the beds were covered in lush faux furs and the view over the lake was spectacular. We settled down for the best full body massage either of us has ever experienced, with Jo and another therapist using our personalised oils to really relax our stressed muscles.
When our massages were done, we slipped back into our wellies and were led down a candlelit path (night had fallen and I took these photos the next day) to the next part of our Spa Trail - Afternoon Tea in a wooden hut at the end of the jetty. We curled up on the sofa, an electric faux fur blanket to snuggle with and a fire to keep us cosy. There were little sandwiches, cakes, flowering tea and scones with jam and cream - all delicious and all gone within minutes! We admired the Eames chair and looked out over the darkened lake.
Finally, we spent the last hour of our experience in the hot tub - you can just see it in the photo above. Fairy lights twinkled all around as we soaked in the steaming water, a bottle of champagne for company. Total and utter bliss and one of the best things I've ever been treated to. And we got some products made from our chosen essential oils to take home too - such a lovely touch to remind you of a special day.
Being preened and pampered is actually quite thirsty work, so after clambering out of the hot tub and heading back up to our room for a shower, we slipped into our evening wear and headed to the main hotel for dinner. The Gilpin provide a free chauffeur service for their Lake House guests, and we were whisked off in a pristine white Range Rover.
The main house is just as beautiful as the Lake House - soft lighting, cracking fires and intimate seating make it a perfect spot for a romantic dinner. We started with G&Ts (Hendrick's and cucumber with Fever Tree Tonic - perfect) in the lounge and chose our food - mushrooms on toast and soup of the day to start, followed by pork for Rob and a steak for me (of course - I always choose the steak!), plus a bottle of red wine for good measure. Our waiter brought us some delicious amuse bouche and then we were seated in the dining room.
The food... oh my. The FOOD. One of our fellow guests (who we got chatting to later over more G&Ts) described it as 'Michelin star dining without all the faff' which I think is perfect. The Gilpin doesn't have a Michelin star but the food is definitely up to that standard - the starters were delicious, the steak melt-in-your-mouth perfect, and the subsequent desserts so moreish I nearly did do an Oliver and ask.
All too soon morning came, and we had time for breakfast in bed (Eggs Benedict, pastries, fresh yoghurt, toast and juice - delicious) and a walk around the grounds before we were heading back to Leeds.
I've never really had an experience like my stay at the Gilpin - it was pure luxury without being snooty, decadent but still homely and no detail was overlooked. The staff were wonderfully friendly to everyone and the Jetty Spa Trail is something I'd recommend a hundred times over to anyone looking to pamper a loved one.
I've had the absolute pleasure of doing lots of fun things because of this blog, but this is one of the few experiences that totally took my breath away. The generosity and kindness of the Cunliffe family who own and run the Gilpin and their wonderful PR team is almost unmatched in my experience.
I couldn't recommend a stay at the Gilpin more - we'll be back next year when we need a pick-me-up. The sooner the better!
To celebrate the launch of the new Jetty Spa, Gilpin Lake House has a special mid-week winter offer of a free Spa Trail (worth £300 per couple) for guests staying at the Lake House who are celebrating a birthday, anniversary or 'mini-moon' (valid for stays Mon-Thurs until 31stMarch 2014. Confirmation of celebration required).
*Our stay at The Gilpin, the Jetty Spa Trail and our meals were provided free of charge for review purposes.