Short Break - Brimstone Hotel, Great Langdale, Ambleside
PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 January 2015 | UPDATED: 19:51 23 March 2016
You just can’t grumble about The Brimstone
There is no one more irritable than a hotel critic with nothing to criticise. A surreptitious finger wiped along a door-frame revealing thick dust, a whining air conditioning system that keeps you from your slumber, the unwanted attentions of an obsequious waiter. To you, these are annoyances but to us, they are meat and drink. They make life seem worthwhile.
Then there is a The Brimstone. Let’s start with the location. The hotel, in 35 acres of the Langdale Estate, is a relatively new addition to a luxury timeshare development just outside Elterwater. This area was once famous for producing gunpowder (hence the name) now it makes a big noise in the holiday trade. The place is surrounded by woods and the stunning Langdale Pikes. It’s all right if you like world-class, stunning scenery, I suppose.
The building is modern and eco-friendly, but not in a glumly utilitarian way - think upmarket Scandinavian. There is no reception, which will throw you at first, but they employ ‘hosts’ to look after guests almost from the moment they leave their vehicles in the ground floor carpark. More laid back than Jeeves but just as useful, if they are all like the young lady who lit the woodburner in our mezzanine suite. Logs came as standard.
The ‘hosts’ take you on a guided tour to explain the Brimstone wrinkles, such as the fact there is no bar in the hotel but a comfy reading room where you can help yourself to free drinks, including wine and beer, sandwiches, cakes and cheese. All right if you like free beer and cake, I suppose.
Our suite was large yet somehow contrived to be cosy. The first level had a leather club armchair and a large sofa unit in front of the fire, a dining table, a 42-inch wall-mounted flatscreen smart TV, a rolltop bath cleverly concealed in a cupboard and a separate bathroom. The outside terrace was enclosed and came with wicker seats and blankets.
Up a flight of stairs was the mezzanine with a bed so large you need a satnav to kiss your partner goodnight, another big TV and a luxurious bathroom with a shower-room big enough to wash the mud off the 1st XI.
Huge windows stretch from the first level to the top of the second and the curtains are operated electronically.
Small things designed to further irk the reviewer included a hair dryer with a lead so long that you didn’t have to limbo dance to use it while looking into a mirror and a series of light settings that were useful and designed to make you smile. You could opt for various settings - ‘perky’, ‘lazy’, ‘sexy’ and, for the middle of the night, ‘tinkle.’
Another quirk is the fact the Brimstone doesn’t have its own restaurant. You can dine in your room but, being on a fault-finding mission, we reluctantly decided to abandon the suite and try one of the restaurants in the main building. It is called Purdy’s - maybe the chef is a fan of The Avengers - and friendly, attentive staff serve accomplished food in relaxed surroundings.
A wild mushroom risotto would not have disgraced an Italian mamma, a fillet of beef was as pink and tender as a blushing bride. Blackberry Bakewell was outrageously moreish and the cheeseboard was well kept and extensive. The wine list was small but it ticked the right boxes.
Our last chance of a triumphant hurrumph came with breakfast served in our bedroom. Well, it was bound to be cold and congealed, wasn’t it? It came on a trolley, beautifully served by two young waiters and when the metal lids were lifted two perfectly cooked - and hot - breakfasts were revealed.
The last straw was opening our door on departure and finding a brown paper bag containing bottles of water, fruit and two Mars Bars. What cheek!
There was a stony silence as we drove away, neither of us able to find a word of complaint to lift the mood. Even the sun was shining, damn it.
LIFE IS SUITE
You can stay at the Brimstone for £200 a night if you book well in advance while a Friday night in the mezzanine suite could cost you around £375. Check their website www.brimstonehotel.co.uk for packages. When staying at the hotel you have use of the spa and swimming pool and they’ll even provide you with walking gear if you’ve left yours at home.
While you are there
This is classic walking territory but it’s just a few miles from Grasmere and bustling Ambleside which has really upped its game on the food front with new arrivals such as the Old Stamp House. It’s also well position to explore some of the less well trod parts of the Lakes such as Eskdale and you can get to Muncaster Castle via the spectacular Wrynose and Hardknott passes.