Appleby Manor is surrounded by the mountains and fells of the North Pennines. The Garden Spa is an impressive new extension with an aqua-thermal journey; hydrotherapy pool, sauna, salt-inhalation room, steam room and foot baths, plus five therapy rooms with Elemis treatments. The star of the show is the serene spa garden complete with two spa baths and a fire pit. Quirky touches such as trowel hooks, pots and benches bring the garden inside.
- Hydrotherapy pool
- Outdoor hot tub
- Salt inhalation room
- Steam room
- Relaxation lounge
- Manicure/pedicure room
- Massage foot spas
Our Spa Spy review
Appleby Manor is a Victorian house that is now a family-run hotel in the walkers' paradise of the Eden Valley. The views from the hotel over Appleby Castle are a deeply relaxing experience in themselves.
The Garden Spa had only been open a few months on our visit, but is an impressive addition to the property. You reach the spa via a series of small corridors. Our bedroom --one of the garden rooms -- was directly opposite the spa so we didn't have too far to wander. As we were staying, our white towelling robes, (huge) purple towel and soft flip-flops were in our room, ready for us to change and head on over.
What's on offer?
The reception area is a light, bright space that catches the morning sun. Here you can fill in your consultation form before your treatment.
The changing rooms have banks of lime-green lockers with key-codes, two private changing spaces, a loo, two showers with Elemis shampoo and body wash, and a vanity area with hairdryers, cleanser and toner. The changing rooms are fairly small and have no spindryer for your wet swimsuit but were spotlessly clean on our visit.
Go through to the end of the changing rooms and you emerge into the spa. The spa's advice is to follow an "aqua-thermal journey", taking each heat experience in turn. The idea is that you slowly raise your body temperature and gradually relax through the therapeutic benefits of water and heat.
We followed the advice and started off in the salt-inhalation room with a warm heat. This room has slate benches and could comfortably sit several people. It also has a fun valve arrangement on the wall that you can gaze at while gently warming up, and wondering what it does.
Move on to the wooden garden bench of the pedidarium (foot baths to you and me) where jets of cold water move through the warm for tingly refreshment. You'd usually then go on to the blue-tiled steam room but that was sadly out of action on our visit.
The wooden-benched sauna has an intense heat that we thoroughly enjoyed, especially as a window into the garden lets in some sunshine. A quick follow-up visit to the experience showers made for an invigorating finish. A water dispenser in the spa means you can stay hydrated as you journey.
In a nod to the "garden" theme throughout the spa, the handle that opens the door into the sauna is a small spade. The hooks that hold your robe are little trowels on the wall, and the sauna has a tiny potting bench inside.
The indoor marble-walled hydrotherapy pool is the spa's main feature, with a small water wall sending soothing sounds throughout the space. The warm pool has underwater loungers to lie on, water jets to ease away your back's aches and pains, swan-neck fountains to pummel your shoulder tension, and bubble pools to stand in while the water jets massage you.
The two outdoor hot tubs are beautifully finished in twinkly pearlescent mosaics. One of the two is in a small space that's available for private hire; you can sip your bubbles while you bubble in perfect peace. The other is in a sheltered walled garden which also has candles, cushioned chairs and tables around a fire-pit; the combination of fire and water creates a very cosy atmosphere.
The Garden Spa has five treatment rooms, simply furnished in neutral tones. The relaxation room -- complete with signature purple carpet -- has several comfortable seats where you can snuggle under a soft blanket in post-treatment bliss.
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Lava Shell Relax massage (55 minutes, £60) which is a full body massage with the heated shells.
My therapist, Courtney, took me through to a treatment room with soft music playing. She began with a foot cleanse, gently rocking me from side to side and stretching me out. She began the massage on my arms, then the front of my legs before moving on to my back. Courtney used a variety of strokes: crossover, kneading and pressure-point, using the Elemis Musclease body oil with its scents of rosemary and pine. The heated Lava Shells from the Philippines glide easily along your skin for a very gentle massage but Courtney also chased down the stubborn knots in my shoulders. To finish, she rubbed on Instant Refreshing Gel, which felt cool and tingly with menthol; I felt very relaxed indeed.
My spa partner also tried the Deep Tissue Muscle massage (55 minutes, £60) in which her therapist concentrated on unwinding and soothing in a very personalised treatment. So she was happy, too.
The Garden Spa treatment menu offers a range of Elemis facials and body treatments, including scrubs and wraps. You can try a variety of massages, including several with heated Lava Shells. There are treatments specifically for men and for mums-to-be, as well as some complementary therapies such as reflexology and Indian head massage. Finishing touches include OPI manicures and pedicures.
For your two-course spa lunch, you eat in the 1 AA rosette Oak Room restaurant; the conservatory extension has views over the green valley. You can feel very comfortable wandering along the corridor and eating in your robe; you don't have to cross major public areas.
The kitchen focuses on local good quality produce and it shows: our food was absolutely delicious. My roasted vegetable salad was tangy with feta and herbs from the garden, and the wild mushroom tagliatelle that followed was creamy and smooth.
Later that evening, we enjoyed fellside lamb and fresh Atlantic plaice, and would have happily eaten our way through the entire wide selection of local cheeses, too, if we'd actually had any room.
We loved / we didn't love
We loved the quirky touches throughout the spa, such as the trowels for the towels, the flowers on the wall, and the greenery. A garden spa that really does feel like a garden.
We loved relaxing in the hot tub in the garden; it's very easy to spend time here.
We would love some conditioner in the shower and some body lotion in the changing room.
Who do you think would like it?
Walkers would enjoy the thermal facilities to soothe tired feet after a day marching up and down the Eden Valley and admiring the (seasonal) daffodils.
Adults: the thermal area and spa are a child-free zone, so the atmosphere is peaceful.
If you are staying in the hotel, you have to pay extra for use of the spa, but this keeps the space calm and controlled. We thought the charge was good value; when we visited, the use of the spa cost an additional £25 per person for three hours Monday to Thursday, slightly more at weekends. If you live locally, you can also take out a membership to give you as much aqua-thermal journeying as you want.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We gave The Garden Spa at Appleby Manor Hotel a Good Spa Guide rating of 4 bubbles.
A thermal journey to soothe plus a comfortable hotel plus delightful food? That's a win in our definition. We experienced excellent customer service, professional treatments, and some thoroughly relaxing me-time. The Garden Spa is a new spa and once it acquires some soft touches, it will be a spa to adore.
Restaurant and Bistro in the hotel.
31 hotel bedrooms including manor house rooms, deluxe rooms, garden view and standard rooms.
10am - 9pm