The family that plays together, stays together, could well be the motto for Lucknam Park, a Palladian mansion set in over 500 acres that provides a natural wonderland with a bucket-load of luxury thrown in.
Dating back to 1720, the stunning setting has been nurtured, invested in and expanded since its 1997 transition from private residence to country house hotel.
The mile-long avenue of lime and beech trees warns visitors to expect something special, fortunately the main house, bathed in the gold of the afternoon sunshine, does not disappoint.
Lucknam Park dates back to 1720. In 1997 it made the transition from a private residence to a country house hotel
Lucknam Park is ideally suited to a family stay due to its choice of interconnecting rooms and suites, or even a whole cottage, all sumptuously decorated in upmarket country house style with a smattering of antiques, while the surrounding vast parkland is like Harry Potter’s ‘Room of Requirement’. Whatever you want it to be – it is.
The setting for a romantic walk, a jolly lunch, a run, a bike trail, a gentle horse-ride, a tennis match, five-aside football, or just a place to sit and contemplate the meaning of life, the formal pathways, gardens and acres of pasture can provide all of this and more, offering both privacy and adventure.
So Lucknam has huge appeal to all age groups and crucially all personality types, from those that want to do everything, to those that want to do nothing.
If the idea of a long walk is likely to send your hard-to-please-teenagers running for cover how about trying out the gym, tennis courts, football pitches, or a spot of croquet?
The equestrian centre has highly qualified instructors, 35 horses and ponies for all abilities, acres to hack out in plus a cross country course with jumps, while the cookery school runs year-round fun cooking courses for adults and children to enjoy together.
There is also free WiFi, modern flat-screen TV’s and the games room at the ‘Hideaway’, a converted cottage with table tennis, table football and video games. It also has playrooms and toys for younger children, right down to babies and toddlers.
Inside the drawing room at Lucknam Park. Ian says the hotel has ‘a bucket-load of luxury thrown in’
As if that isn’t enough, with advance notice staff can also arrange archery, a family falconry experience and duck herding, yes, seriously.
Once the learning of new skills, or honing of existing ones, is dealt with there is of course the pesky task of unwinding to tackle.
There are deep free-standing baths and luxury toiletries in many rooms for the kind of foam-filled soak you just never get time for at home, but for many guests the jewel in the crown of Lucknam Park is its spa, where floor-to-ceiling glass, marble and blonde wood are incorporated into the design.
There is a 20-metre pool, an indoor/outdoor bubbling hydrotherapy pool and sun deck and ‘mini’ treatments for younger spa-goers, plus four thermal cabins only accessible to over 16’s – a Japanese Salt Room, the Amethyst Room, the Aromatic Steam Room and Sauna and the ice bar.
The sumptuous Tower Bedroom at Lucknam Park. Ian says the real beauty of Lucknam is its huge appeal to all age groups and crucially all personality types
Should you wish to complete an indulgent stay with a treatment I can personally recommend both the Espa Fitness Massage and the Carita Radiance Facial.
I had the massage, excellent at targeting areas of deep-seated tension and returning ‘lightness to limbs’, while my wife had the facial, which promises ‘real visible results’.
The therapist had apparently joked that I wouldn’t recognise her afterwards and indeed I walked right past her, so obviously it was a very good facial.
The indoor pool inside Lucknam Park’s spa. Ian says that for many guests, the spa is the jewel in the resort’s crown
In fact I was distracted by the cocktail list at the Brasserie, which is just a few steps from the spa across a marble-tiled reception area.
The Lucknam Park Martini was a fruity extravagance, while the amusingly named ‘Romantic Affair’ bore more than a passing resemblance to a Porn Star Martini.
Feeling decidedly ‘lighter of limb’ after two cocktails, we were shown to our table for dinner, past an open-sided kitchen leading into a spacious dining area with floor-to-ceiling glass. More tables outside are bordered by flower beds and a pretty dovecote.
On arrival earlier, the friendly receptionist had given us a quick tour. The ‘formal’ restaurant is presided over by Executive Chef Hywel Jones, who has held a Michelin star there since 2006.
A popular seasonal tasting menu is offered, as well as à la carte, in the stunning dining room (once the ballroom of the house), where breakfast is also served.
The Brasserie, pictured, is described as the ‘casual dining’ option, offering lunch and dinner
Ian says the outdoor grounds are the ‘perfect setting for a romantic walk, a jolly lunch, a run, a bike trail, a gentle horse-ride, a tennis match and five-aside football’
Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa is located in Colerne, Chippenham, in Wiltshire.
Stays start from £295 per night based on a two sharing a double room, on a room-only basis.
For more information call 01225 742 777 or visit www.lucknampark.co.uk.
Rating key: one star – poor; two stars – ok; three stars – good; four stars – very good; five stars – exceptional.
The Brasserie was described as the ‘casual dining’ option, offering lunch and dinner, but don’t let that fool you – the cuisine here is anything but casual. Head Chef Thomas Westerland was crowned National Chef of Wales 2018, and uses seasonal local produce and ingredients straight from the kitchen garden, whenever possible.
The menu is as delicious as it is diverse and includes vegan options. Stand-out dishes were the Asian style Portland crab salad, Kerala spiced sprouting broccoli fritters, wood roast Cornish cod and slow-cooked belly of Roundway Hill pork, not to mention the rhubarb and ginger trifle.
Posh pizzas, macaroni cheese, perfect burgers and ice cream are also on offer for those with a less adventurous palate.
Our stay was for a thoroughly indulgent two days, but we barely scratched the surface of the pursuits on offer.
Fortunately for the more naturally lethargic among us, for each energetic activity to choose from there is an equally inspirational way to do the opposite available, from a book and a brandy in the library to a snooze in the tepidarium, or an age-defying facial that will leave your partner walking right past you.
This is a hotel that really does have it all…