Spa Uncommon – Linthwaite House, Cumbria


Do you ever have one of those weeks where however wonderful your family is, however rewarding your job, you just want to run away for a while and hide! Sometimes a last-minute escape is exactly what you need to refresh yourself, reboot, and be ready to again face the world. And whether your recovery involves just you, or you and a similarly world-weary girlfriend, a suitably swanky spa hotel is just what the doctor ordered.

This is why I found myself breaking free from my family and checking in to the haven which is Linthwaite House. Its location in Windermere in the English Lake District, surrounded by 14 acres of gardens, with woodlands beyond, and looking down to a lake, is utterly idyllic. Just looking at those views, I started to feel more relaxed already, the cool, clean air of the national park a balm for both my body and soul.

Unusually, Linthwaite House is a spa hotel where the spa treatments come to you. There are hot tubs in guest rooms, so if you wish, you can start indulging yourself before even having your first coffee of the day. In my case, I threw open the windows to let the fresh air in, and the sunlight flooded with it. The early summer is an unbeatable time to be in the Lake District: I’ve come every June for a decade, and it has become one of my very favorite places in the world.

All the spa treatments at  Linthwaite House are by Penny Irvine Massage Therapy. If you aren’t familiar with the name, that is because Penny Irvine is uber local: she is based in the local town of Kendal (famous for the annual Kendal Mountain Festival) and specializes in full body and deep tissue massage. There are options for no hands massage and facials, too.

Hunched over a laptop for much of my life, and squashed awkwardly into an airline seat for even more, I often feel as if my body is contracting. My joints tend to be stiff rather than particularly painful, but I have lost the free flowing movement of my teens and twenties and too often feel, well, tense. With my mind at rest, and having had a peaceful night’s sleep, I hoped that Penny would be able to loosen some of my muscles, especially in my back and shoulders. If she could work out the knots and help me relax, I would, almost literally, become putty in her hands.

One of the challenges with a really great massage is staying awake long enough to enjoy it. When a massage therapist puts you completely at your ease, when the music and fragrances are intended to soothe, your body and mind feel safe: you are cared for. It’s no wonder, then, that your natural tendency may be to drift into a dreamless sleep. And I did. Those minutes of sleep were golden. 

I am a passionate believer that wellness is a whole body experience. It is about what you eat and drink as well as how you exercise, take time out, and allow your mind to decompress. Fortunately, at Linthwaite House, they have the culinary aspects of health and happiness well covered.

Dining is a critical component of any stay at Linthwaite House. Award-winning restaurateur and chef Simon Rogan has had his Henrock restaurant at the hotel since 2019, offering a frequently changing menu which champions seasonal, local produce. Many of the ingredients are produced on Rogan’s own regenerative farm in the nearby Cartmel Valley, which guests at Linthwaite are encouraged to visit. Rogan’s London restaurant, Aulis, has a cult following and serious foodies will make table reservations to eat there months in advance. But if you book a stay at Linthwaite then you can have a taste of Rogan’s gastronomic mastery at Henrock without the wait.

Henrock isn’t Linthwaite House’s only culinary draw, though. You will want to stay at the hotel long enough so that you can treat yourself to a meal in The Bar & Conservatory, too. The atmosphere here is a little more laid back, but Head Chef Gerald van der Walt is still a master artist in the kitchen and every dish is carefully curated from tasty local ingredients. On a fine day when the sun is shining, request a table outdoors on the terrace, a glorious spot to unwind. Ask the resident mixologist to craft you a cocktail (or two) and have a few bar snacks whilst you browse the menu and decide. The lobster roll on the all day menu is out of this world, in case my recommendation sways your choices; but I am sure that whatever tempts you will be delicious, and on a break such as this, the ability to make spur of the moment decisions on a whim is part of the fun!


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