After the festive excesses over Christmas and New Year, the niggling guilt of gluttony tends to come to the fore at this time of year.
Added to that the miserable weather and general January blues, many might feel in need of a bit of TLC and a place to blow away the cobwebs.
We found somewhere to match that desire at Brimstone Hotel in the beautiful Lake District.
Brimstone is the latest addition to the award-winning 35-acre Langdale Estate, nestled in the heart of the region, near Ambleside.
The stunning £3.2m hotel - which only opened in July 2013 - oozes luxury, even from the outside, with its slate, glass and wooden facade blending into the backdrop of looming pine trees and rocky hillsides.
The exclusive retreat has torn up the rule book when it comes to hotels. It has no formal check in, but ‘hosts’ who are on call at the drop of a hat.
Our intrigue was sparked the day before we were due to arrive, when we had a phone call asking us to describe our car as they “would look out for arrival”.
The hotel is just a short walk from the main Langdale Hotel but is entirely private and of a different ilk.
Having parked in Brimstone’s private garage, we pressed a door bell and within minutes, a uniformed host arrived to take our bags and show us - via a roaring fire in the lobby - to our room.
And what a room.
Each of the hotel’s 16 rooms are individually designed and boast their own private balcony. Ours was a mezzanine suite, with a stylish sofa placed opposite the well-stocked log burning fire and with a view through the floor-to-ceiling folding glass doors onto the terrace. Upstairs, a king-sized bed was covered in comfy pillows and throws and the ensuite bathroom boasted a plush wet room.
The light switches even had different buttons for different moods - including a ‘tinkle’ switch, which gave you just enough light to get to the bathroom.
Before he left, the host showed us the reading room, a private lounge where guests can access free wine, beer, tea, coffee, nibbles and treats on tap, 24/7 (and we did).
We immediately scuttled to light the log fire in the living room - since it’s been a long desire to have one at home - and relaxed from the drive with a cold beer from the reading room.
We were booked into the Langdale Hotel’s 2AA rosette restaurant Purdey’s for dinner and decided have a quick drink first in the hotel’s Hobson’s Bar.
You can eat at Hobson’s too but Purdey’s is certainly a special treat. Each dish was a work of art, with clever elements each deliciously complementing its neighbour on the plate. Nicely full, we returned to our room - via a digestif in Hobson’s Bar - and lit the fire once more, though staff had impressively offered to keep it stoked while we were at dinner. At Brimstone, you’re almost encouraged to take breakfast in your room. It is cooked at the Langdale Hotel and brought over at no extra cost. And at no loss to quality - eggs Florentine still boasted a runny yolk once served at our living room table. It would definitely be nice to eat breakfast on the terrace - but perhaps one from the warmer months.
Brimstone is perfectly situated for exploring the Lakes. Just a short drive away is Bowness-on-Windermere and Windermere itself.
Both distinct town centres which are good for a mooch, with their quaint shops, places to eat and access to Lake Cruises. Bowness also hosts The World of Beatrix Potter attraction, which brings her tales of Peter Rabbit and friends to life in the area which inspired her work. After a brief stop through the nearby pretty town of Ambleside, we found a little pub off the beaten track called The Britannia Inn, in Elterwater. It was packed, even though it was about 2.30pm, with walkers and long lunchers. And you could see why - tasty local ales behind the bar and a traditional menu, with sizeable sandwiches.
On its doorstep was a little river along which was a walk - exhilarating in the stunning surroundings - which can take you all the way to Ambleside. We used it to walk off a chip or two before returning to Brimstone, literally a five minute stroll away. The Lakes is a walkers’ paradise and for anyone who finds themselves under-prepared, Brimstone also boasts the ‘Berghaus Boot Room’ where guests can take their pick of clothing to borrow.
Also part of the Langdale Estate is Wainwright’s Inn, a pub up the road where we decided to head for dinner. Be warned - take a torch as the main road is the best route there and is obviously pitch black at this time of year. Once inside, with its huge fire, the low-ceilinged pub was a cosy spot for the evening with a ranging menu of good pub grub at a reasonable price.
Brimstone may be an exclusive retreat - with a pricetag to match - but it lacks the snootiness of other five-star hotels. The ‘hosts’ are faultless - subtle enough not to be noticed but there when you need them, for anything. The hotel offers a place to relax and recharge in sheer luxury – and amid breathtaking scenery – leaving you feeling well and truly spoilt.
Brimstone Hotel is part of the Langdale Estate and guests can access the Langdale Hotel’s spa facilities and treatments.
Rooms cost from £250 per night. Wood burning stoves are in most rooms and mini bars stocked with locally produced beers and spirits.
The in-room menu is available 24-7. Visit www.brimstonehotel.co.uk or phone 01539 438062.
A Fireside Recluse Break offer is available until February 28 and costs from £650 for two people including two nights in a Fireside Suite, breakfast each morning, a cocktail each, Reading Room treats, full use of spa facilities and a two course supper each night.
For more information also visit: www.visitcumbria.com