Ensana Buxton Crescent – bathe in thermal waters at this Derbyshire spa

Head of Digital, Amy Moore, reviews her stay at the Ensana Buxton Crescent, a spa hotel in Buxton, Derbyshire.

Located on the edge of the Peak District, the Ensana Buxton Crescent is a must-visit for spa seekers.

The hotel is steeped in history and was originally built for William Cavendish, the fifth Duke of Devonshire, in 1789. The Duke wanted to establish Buxton as a spa town, with the Crescent being central to the campaign.

While the hotel fell into disrepair in the 1990s, an £80 million renovation has restored the Crescent back to its former glory, cementing its reputation as a hotspot for those seeking a dip in Buxton’s soothing thermal waters.

Buxton Crescent, Derbyshire – we review our stay

How to get to Buxton Crescent

We arrive after a dreamy drive through the Peaks – the rolling hills, babbling brooks and impressive vistas of this national park already providing a soothing start to our spa stay.

The drive takes around 50 minutes from Sheffield, but could also easily be accessed via public transport, with direct trains going out of Manchester every 30 minutes or so.

There’s valet parking available at the hotel (make sure to book in advance), meaning finding a space is one less thing to worry about. It’s not long before we check into our room, ready to enjoy the spa.

Inside our room

Opening the door into our Junior Suite, we’re greeted by a spacious living area that overlooks the front of the hotel. Complete with a television, seating area and desk, it’s ideal for relaxing with a glass of wine and good company. A plate of indulgent chocolates are a thoughtful added touch.

We follow the room through, with the space leading into a passageway that connects the living area with the bathroom and bedroom. Here, a roomy roll-top bath sits under a window – providing privacy but still allowing full view of the television from the living space. I can easily imagine enjoying a long soak in the tub with a glass of bubbles and a classic movie.

Opposite the tub is the bathroom, a large space with a waterfall shower and complimentary Ensana toiletries. Clean and modern, it’s perfect for freshening up on arrival.

The stylishly decorated bedroom sits next to the bathroom and is dominated by the enormous four-poster bed. Soft, squidgy and very roomy, it provides the perfect night’s sleep later that evening. So good, in fact, I forget my partner, Jake, is snoozing alongside me.

Complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits are provided (so leave the trusty travel kettle at home). It’s also worth knowing that dogs are welcome, too. Just be sure to let the hotel know when booking.

At the spa

After dropping our bags off, we don the fluffy bathrobes and slippers provided in the room and head down to the spa.

Our first stop is the indoor-outdoor rooftop pool. With the sun shining, we place our towels on one of the sunbeds outside and brave the waters.

To our surprise, the pool is heated to a very pleasant temperature. It also features spacious integrated jacuzzi areas and tumbling jets. With the mineral waters soothing our limbs, it’s not long before we relax into the stay, our once-stressed shoulders sinking away from our ears.

Feeling suitably initiated, we head downstairs into the main spa area, an expansive low-lit space on the hotel’s lower ground-floor.

Here, a thermal pool creates the main focal point for the spa. Filled with warm, mineral-rich water fresh from Buxton, it flows into the pool without chemical treatment, living skin feeling silky soft.

After a dip, we venture further into the spa, stopping off first to admire the relaxation pool. I float weightlessly here for several minutes, gazing at the midnight-blue, starlit ceiling. It’s like floating in the ocean on a clear night.

In terms of facilities, we certainly aren’t disappointed. There are a range of saunas to choose from (including bio-thermal, infra-red and Finnish), along with two steam rooms and an ice fountain.

Signature spa treatments

With a treatment each booked in, we head to the spa’s relaxation room, arriving in a cosy, softly-lit space with reclining beds and calming music.

Nervous systems soothed, our massage therapists arrive and lead us off into separate treatment rooms. I opt for the Signature Wave Balance treatment – exclusively available at the Buxton Crescent.

I’m unsure what to expect as I’m guided onto a heated water bed, and cocooned under a fluffy towel. Here, my therapist gently begins to move the bed, creating a soothing rocking motion. I visualise being on a lilo in the Mediterranean sea.

The treatment progresses, with gentle massage and stretches on my legs, arms and shoulders. The treatment finishes with an extensive head massage – helping to relieve any lingering tension.

I’m left feeling calm from tip to toe. I can imagine how helpful it would be for those recovering from injury or struggling with ongoing stiffness.

Those seeking a deeper treatment may wish to opt for an alternative, however. There are a huge number to choose from; from massages (Swedish, deep tissue, and hot stone, to name a few) and facials, to wraps, scrubs and even water-based treatments that utilise the mineral-rich water at the spa.

My partner, Jake, opts for the therapeutic thermal mud pack treatment – another offering unique to the hotel. Here, mineral-rich mud derived from Lake Heviz in Hungary is warmed to 40 degrees and applied to the joints to aid any achiness. An invigorating massage through the head, neck and shoulders helps to ease tight muscles as the mud works its magic.

We reconvene on the Spa Café’s outdoor restaurant terrace with a welcome glass of fizz to swap notes – the perfect end to a chilled afternoon in the spa.

In the restaurant

Dinner is served in The Dining Room. The hotel’s stylish restaurant offers an array of seasonal dishes, crafted from local produce.

We share a bowl of mussels as our starter. Plump and juicy, they go down a treat alongside the generous serving of bread and a rich, creamy garlic sauce. It’s a mighty serving of food and would make more than a plentiful main for one person.

Our mains arrive not long after. I opt for a tasty creamy truffled wild mushroom risotto. Jake digs into a salt-aged sirloin of beef – served with a mini cottage pie, crispy kale and caramelised shallot. After one mouthful, he instantly declares it one of the best things he’s ever eaten. High praise indeed.

While we’re too full for pudding, a cheeseboard on a neighbouring table catches my eye. It’s piled high with generous wedges of British cheese, alongside chutney, crackers, fruit and celery. One thing’s for sure, you won’t go hungry here.

The food is by no means cheap (my risotto costs £24, the sirloin £40). But the friendly atmosphere, relaxed surroundings and generous portion sizes really add to the occasion. It’s definitely somewhere special for celebrating a birthday or anniversary.

Breakfast the following morning is a foodie highlight, too.

A buffet service, with pastries, fruit, fresh yoghurts and juices is available to choose from, with cooked breakfasts ordered from the menu.

I order Eggs Royale – poached to perfection, with creamy Hollandaise sauce, smoked salmon atop a toasted muffin with a sprinkle of fresh chives. The perfect end to our heavenly stay at the Buxton Cresent.

What to do in Buxton

A checkout of 11am gives plenty of time for a slow morning at the hotel before exploring what Buxton has to offer.

We take a wander through the high street, which is just a short stroll away from the Crescent. Here you’ll find all the usual amenities, along with independent cafes, restaurants and gift shops.

We venture a little further into the heart of Buxton and head to The Pavilion Gardens – a really pretty park complete with a picturesque boating lake where we couldn’t resist hiring a pedalo for 30 minutes.

Poole’s Cavern is well worth a look for keen explorers, too. Around 15 minutes’ walk from the Pavillion Gardens, this natural limestone cave offers a spooky glimpse into an underground world, with impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations.

Plus, there are a number of woodland walking trails surrounding the cave, with a Go Ape course for the more adventurous.

Rooms from £215 per night. Prices correct at time of publishing.

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