ESCAPE LONDON – Head to the MacDonald Old England Hotel and Spa for relaxation and tranqulity
The Lake District is my favorite weekend getaway after a stressful week at the hospital. The offer of a night of relaxation in a picturesque country-house hotel overlooking lake Windermere, together with full use of the spa and a hot-stones treatment was too good to be true.
Bowness on Windermere is a small town in South Lakeland, Cumbria, approximately 280 miles (6 hours) from London. It is a bustling, vibrant town on the shores of Lake Windermere, the largest lake in the Lake District. It is popular with both families and those interested in exploring the scenic outdoors and is home to the popular attraction “The World of Beatrix Potter”. It is a fantastic base for those wanting to hike the low and high fells around Windermere, Kendal and Ambleside, plus has the added advantage of being on the shores of the lake, where boat trips, boat hire and other water-sports await. If you just want to relax and wander around, there is a wonderfully quirky mix of craft, gift and antique shops, outdoor shops and boutiques, together with a huge choice of restaurants and lake-side cafes offering good food and spectacular views.
Perfectly located, in the heart of Bowness, is the Macdonald Old England Hotel and Spa. It is described as one of the finest 4 star Lake District hotels and boasts the offer of “breathtaking scenery and exceptional facilities”. I was eager to see if it lived up to its reputation and if the pictures on the website were anything to go by, it looked an opulent and luxurious place to relax and unwind after a hard days hiking and sightseeing.
I was booked to the stay the night at the Macdonald Old England Hotel and Spa and was also to be treated to a hot-stones massage treatment and full use of the spa- lovely! I decided to travel up the night before and stay locally and so I arrived at the hotel early the following morning.
Despite the pouring rain, my first view was of a gorgeous, opulent looking, country-style hotel with spectacular views of Lake Windermere: first impressions were excellent!
On entering, I was immediately struck by the cosy, country feel to the place. The hall-way was welcoming and contained the main reception. Adjacent to the main reception was a cozy looking bar with beautiful views and plenty of places to relax, unwind and take in the view. I was greeted by an extremely pleasant and helpful receptionist who checked me in, whisked away my luggage and car, and who promised to have my room ready as soon as possible, despite it only being 9am! I was offered full use of the facilities, however, I decided to brave the typical Lake District rain and explore the town. I also planned a gentle walk up one of the nearby small fells, knowing I had a lovely hot-stones massage to look forward to on my return.
My room was ready on my return and my bags had already been taken up. The path to my room took me through the bar I had previously spotted, and I had the chance to properly take it all in. Multiple windows offered a panoramic vista, with Lake Windermere the backdrop. Sumptuous sofas and armchairs filled the bar, all offering the perfect environment for relaxing and unwinding, surrounded by the beautiful scenery outside. A grand piano, chandeliers and opulent decoration completed the look. In fact, the gloomy weather outside made the lounge even cozier and I couldn’t wait to spend time there later taking in the view with a glass of wine. Had it been sunny, there was a delightful outside terrace to while away the time enjoying a drink and the perfect picture-postcard scenery.
The website describes the bedrooms as “luxurious and comfortable: the perfect place for anyone wanting to rest their head whilst exploring the Lakeland area”. All rooms are “traditionally furnished, with all the modern conveniences needed to make your stay incredibly comfortable”. They also “boast stunning views of beautiful Lake Windermere”. Well, that was absolutely what awaited me on opening the door.
The view of Lake Windermere was breath-taking, especially as it could all be taken in from the comfort of your bedroom. In fact, you could just lie on the bed and gaze at the view, and that is exactly what I did.
The bed was large and extremely comfortable, with a thick, snuggly duvet and fluffy pillows. The bathroom was elegant and all done out in stone, with fluffy towels and all the creature comforts a girl could want. There was also a large walk-in shower and complimentary Arran Aromatic toiletries. In short, a perfect place to relax and prepare for whatever adventures lay ahead!
I had no time to relax, as I wanted to make full use of the spa facilities before indulging in my hot-stones treatment. The spa was everything I thought it would be: both luxurious and tranquil at the same time. I was given a fluffy bathroom and slippers and shown around the facilities. Although there was a full fitness suite with state of the art facilities, I bypassed this and headed to the 20-metre pool, saunas and steam room.
I spent the next half an hour relaxing in the pool, letting the stresses and strains of the week melt away. I also checked out the sauna and steam room and was already well on my way to be fully relaxed before I had even entered the tranquil environment of the sensuous spa! When it was time for my treatment, I was taken up to the spa area to continue my relaxation, whilst awaiting my treatment.
The waiting room was peaceful and harmonious. Customers relaxed on comfortable reclining chairs listening to calming music. The lighting was low, however, there were individual reading lights if you wanted to just chill with a book or magazine. Fresh fruit, herbal teas and caffeine were in abundance – the perfect place to recline, switch-off and forget the outside world.
I was almost asleep when my massage therapist came to personally collect me and take me for my treatment. She was young, pleasant and extremely knowledgeable and made sure I was comfortable at every stage. Although I regularly have massages, I had never had a hot stones treatment before and I was looking forward to it.
The Macdonald Old England Hotel and Spa offer a wide range of treatments for both men and women, for example, facials, massages and replenishing beauty treatments. I had the “Aroma stone therapy”. This involves placing warm Basalt stones on key energy points, whilst luxuriously warmed oils are massaged deeply into the body for maximum relaxation. It was a fantastic tension reliever, and I left feeling incredibly relaxed. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was extremely hungry, I probably could have fallen asleep. Whatever the treatment you choose, based on the experience I had, it is a fantastic way to rejuvenate, relax and revitalize in a warm, welcoming and peaceful environment.
Following my treatment I headed back to my room and changed for dinner. Before dinner, I spent a pleasant hour relaxing in the lounge bar with an excellent, and very reasonably priced glass of wine. The ambiance was delightful – comfortable chairs, fabulous views and a classical pianist was playing perfect evening music. I headed downstairs to the dining room and was led to a perfect table next to the window where I could survey the dining room or look out at those gorgeous views and the beautiful sunset.
The restaurant at the Macdonald Old England Hotel and Spa literally sits on the shore of Lake Windermere and is locally known as “the restaurant on the lake”. The views over the lake were stunning – it was almost a shame it was getting dark. The dining room was elegant and decorated to a high standard in keeping with the country feel to the hotel. It was not overcrowded and light background music was playing that was not overpowering. The staff were friendly, attentive and efficient and blended into the background. The menu was varied, with modern, seasonal, British food made using the highest quality, local ingredients. At least that’s what the website described!
As ever, it was a difficult choice, but I opted for the soup of the day, the Rib Eye Steak and the Lake District favorite, Sticky Toffee Pudding, all washed down with a glass of wine. I have to say that the food was excellent and certainly lived up to its reputation. The soup was carrot, not a usual choice of mine, but was extremely tasty and served with a lovely piece of crusty bread. The steak was tender and cooked to perfection and the sticky toffee pudding scrumptious.
It was with an extremely full stomach that I headed up the stairs to my bedroom. I was tired and very relaxed, and ready to climb into that fabulous bed for a spot of late night TV. After an excellent night’s sleep I awoke and headed downstairs for an equally delicious full English breakfast, again from local produce, and eaten in full view of Lake Windermere in the morning sun. A perfect start to the day, whether it be sightseeing or walking. I had a day of walking ahead before heading back to the real world. Again the hotel staff were excellent in arranging to look after both my luggage and car until I needed them.
The Old Macdonald hotel and Spa is definitely the full package and lives up to its reputation. It is a comfortable, elegant and luxurious place to stay, with comfortable rooms and a tranquil, rejuvenating spa. It is the perfect place for relaxation whether you are an avid hiker or just a sightseer who enjoys luxury and comfort. The staff are helpful, pleasant and welcoming and help make this a fabulous place to stay. What more can you want, than to relax in that peaceful , luxury environment, surrounded by the beautiful backdrop of the Lake district. I would 100% recommend this as a place to stay!
Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa, 23 Church St, Windermere, Cumbria LA23 3DF
Value for money 5
Penny, Heart London Magazine