Driving down the mile-long tree-lined drive, Lucknam Park appears as an unspoilt and elegant country house, sitting upon 500 acres of tranquil parkland. Dating back to the 18th century this indulgent escape is home to 42 rooms, equestrian centre, spa and Michelin-star restaurant. Though elegant in every sense of the word, the atmosphere is relaxed and not too formal – I would feel very comfortable selecting an old, musty book from the vast library and curling up by the crackling fire.
Through the hotel, there’s a gravel courtyard, lined with flowers and creepers, leading to the spa and brasserie. Beyond, there’s a tennis court, arboretum and a small walled garden, as well as a cookery school with weekly classes.
Lucknam Park offers a variety of rooms, spread between the main house and the courtyard. Guests can select from Classic, Garden and Park categories, with the choice of Grand or Master suites. The style is classic: quiet patterns, touches of velvet and traditional furnishings. The twin room we stayed in had a beautiful marble bathroom, with a large, glass shower and deep bath, raised on impressive silver stilts; the beds were soft, firm and covered in crisp white sheets. Our room also had a television and sofa, where we toasted to my mother’s 60th with champagne and nibbled on the gifted homemade shortbreads.
Though dining in the Michelin-star restaurant was very tempting, we chose to have our dinner in the brasserie. Adjoining the spa, the brasserie looks out onto a garden where you can also sit on a clear day. To begin we had freshly made focaccia, with oil and balsamic vinegar, which we enjoyed while perusing the rest of the menu and selecting a wine to match – can’t go wrong with a red from Bordeaux.
Starters included smoked salmon with crème fraîche and small segments of grapefruit, which offered a lovely burst of citrus. We also tried the superfood salad: a mixture of quinoa, edamame beans, ribbons of carrot, pomegranate and an avocado cream – what should have been light and refreshing was slightly overpowered by a heavy-handed squeeze of lime. For our mains, we had the pan-fried sea bream with a lemon, caper and shrimp butter, grilled cabbage and new potatoes, and the slow-cooked lamb, with parsnip mash and a side of seasonal vegetables.
Squeezing in dessert, we shared the crème brûlée – perfectly crystallised sugar atop creamy, vanilla custard – and the apple crumble tart, with rum and raisin custard – a delicious way to round off the meal.
For breakfast, there’s a cold, buffet offering, as well as cooked breakfast, everything from porridge to avocado and poached eggs on toast. Admittedly quite expensive (£22 for the continental menu and £32 for the hot option), but the food was very nice, albeit the scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast was a little… dainty.
Out and about:
Though there’s plenty to do at the hotel itself – long walks, horse riding, bike riding, relaxing in the spa or treating yourself to a massage, Lucknam Park is just a 20-minute drive away from the city of Bath. If it’s not somewhere you’ve been before, Bath is definitely worth a visit, not only for the famous Roman Baths but beautiful architecture too and on a nice day, even an open-top bus ride.
Also not too far away is the National Trust-owned medieval Lacock Village: quaint traditional stone cottages, the old workhouse, medieval tithe barn, old lock-up and much more.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this indulgent escape is just a romantic getaway for couples – though it is that too – there’s a real mixed crowd at the hotel. Not everyone is there for the full hotel experience, some just come to use the spa, others for afternoon tea or dinner. While families are welcomed at the hotel, there are specific times that children are allowed in the pool area. Well-behaved dogs are also allowed in the hotel if you want to bring your furry friend with you.
The worst thing:
There really is very little I could fault this hotel on. Food is slightly overpriced and maybe not reflective of the quality in some cases, but ultimately it’s a wonderful place.
The best thing:
I’m not someone who sits still easily. I can’t spend a full day lounging in a spa – even one with an all-year-round heated outdoor jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, crystal room and swimming pool – so having the great outdoors to explore as well, is the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation.
Rooms start at £275 for a classic room, varying depending on the time of year and length of stay. The hotel also has multiple offers running throughout the year, from spa and sleep retreats, to special deals and romantic weekend escapes – well worth keeping an eye on!