Stay Here: Lucknam Park, BathBy Claudine Levy
Looking for an amazing mini break from the hustle and bustle of London? It’s about time you visited Lucknam Park, just outside Bath. Here’s why:
This family owned country-house hotel in Wiltshire oozes luxury and grandeur whilst being just the right size to maintain that intimate, homely feel (if home were an 18th century palladian mansion set within 500 acres of meadows and woodland). The grand entrance hall is reached by a mile long lime and beech tree drive, boasting serious Downtown Abbey vibes. With an elegant spa, outdoor and indoor pools, artfully manicured gardens and an equestrian centre and cookery school to boot, this five star hotel has everything you could want from a luxurious retreat to the country. This place has a rep which precedes it. Suffice to say: if you casually drop Lucknam Park into the conversation, people will enviously drool in recognition, because this is one of the UK’s most famed country-houses-come-hotels.
I stayed in the Grand Suite overlooking the charming garden courtyard. It was traditionally and tastefully decorated, with rich fabrics, antique oak furniture and plush armchairs. The true hero of the room was the classic French baldachin-esque bed with cascading canopy, fully confirming my inner 5 year old’s conviction that she is, in fact, a princess.
The regal vibes continued on into the Spa which, set amidst wonderful Cotswold-stone walled gardens and beautiful blooms, has wide glass windows to capitalise on its gorgeous surroundings. Along with saunas and indoor and outdoor hydrotherapy pools, the therapy cabins offer a Japanese salt room, aromatic steam room and Amethyst room. For the more active: a rather grand fitness suite and tennis courts. Having skipped the gym and blissed out horizontally in the spa, I opted for the ESTA Inner Calm massage. This treatment takes a holistic approach, quieting the mind as well as releasing tension and nourishing the skin. The massage is tailored to the individual, and I had a choice of aromatherapy oils depending on what I felt my body needed. Afterwards, I practically floated out of there.
I ate dinner at the hotel’s Brasserie Restaurant, which has a more relaxed, contemporary feel than its Michelin starred Restaurant Hywel Jones. It’s a bright space, and I ate bathed in the glow from the full length windows looking out onto an adjoining courtyard and hedged garden. To start, I recommend the Kentucky fried octopus with chorizo jam: the sweet and spice cuts through the richness of the octopus and the tzatziki balances the complexity of the other flavours. For a main, the five spice roasted Creedy Carver duck breast with garden stir fry is a great choice: buttery soft pink duck served with a delicious light soy and tea sauce on a bed of crisp spring roll. Finally, go for the garden raspberry doughnut with classic, nostalgia inducing raspberry ripple ice cream (elevated with a hint of tarragon, because we’re grownups, afterall).
This hotel is special – something about it’s intimate size makes it feel like you’re living in the country house of your dreams rather than just temporarily staying in an impersonal hotel for the weekend. The house, the vast estate, the horses, the spa, the service all conspire together to make a bloody lovely place to stay for the weekend.
A one-night stay in a classic room costs from £295 per night including use of the spa, so save this one for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary. Bath is a 20 minutes’ drive away and Castle Combe, a picture-perfect village in the southern Cotswolds, is 10 minutes by car. Trains run direct from London Paddington to Bath and take 1 hr 30 mins.