We’re big fans of spending staycations in Jersey. With an array of beautiful hotels permanantly poised to provide the finest in relaxation, food and spa facilities we’re spoilt for choice. However we’re also pretty enamoured with the ‘real’ world beyond our sandy shores. Every now and again it’s good to get away and experience something new. Last month we hopped over to the Westcountry to sample the delights of Lucknam Park, a marriage of classic period charm and modern spa luxury.
Set in 500 acres of listed parkland and gardens the Lucknam Park Hotel near Bath is nothing short of spectacular. On a dark, frosty moonlit night the five star Relais & Château hotel, which was a private house until 1997, was glowing in the distance as we approached along the mile long tree-lined driveway.
Despite the relative solitude of the beautifully isolated building, there was already someone on the doorstep when we arrived – waiting to greet us, unload the car and offer the sort of warm and welcome service that we later learnt to expect at any hour at Lucknam Park. On entering the magnificent country house a fire crackled, well stocked bookcases whispered history and calm and the staff personified the sense of calm, taking complete care of our arrival and especially that of the sleepy baby with us. Your every need feels anticipated and dealt with willingly, accompanied with a smile.
The elegance of the public hall flowed through to the large peaceful drawing room and wood panelled library. We utilised both rooms during our stay; enjoying both an evening cocktail and post-stroll-in-the-grounds quiet cup of tea with delicious homemade mince pies. The ‘no laptop’ policy made sure that relaxation is the name of the game.
On being shown to our room, we were delighted not only with the fabulous suite but with the effort that had been put in to creating a perfect bed for our 6 month old companion. Other hotels would have just put a travel cot in the room. Not Lucknam Park. The cot was beautifully made up with white linen including a little pillow and duvet with embroidered sprig of lavender and an extra layer of padding, ensuring the mattress was wonderfully comfortable. The extra effort paid off. The baby slept longer than ever before that night. So did we. It goes with out saying that the luxurious bedroom was beautifully appointed with views into the picturesque courtyard and gateway to the Spa beyond.
Having enquired about eating in the hotel’s prestigious Michelin starred Park Restaurant we were informed during check in that we had a reservation for the next day and that a nanny from the Cotswold Nanny Network had been booked so that we could enjoy the evening outside of the bedroom. The only caveat to our near perfect evening plan was ‘a no jeans policy… we hope that won’t be problem’. Clearly they didn’t recognise the quality of a pair of PRPS jeans but fortunately a large Tesco nearby with a nice supply of £20 chinos enabled my companion to slip through the dress code unscathed. And a good job he did, the dinner we enjoyed was among the best we’ve ever had.
Welsh Executive Chef Hywel Jones has held a Michelin star at The Park restaurant for six years and since then has received many accolades including Hotel Chef of the Year and heat winner in the BBC’s Great British Menu (Series 6, 2011). The elegance of the dining room, the service and fantastic food leave you in no doubt that this is the jewel in the crown of Lucknam Park. But don’t worry about it being too stuffy. Whilst they may have a no jeans policy, jackets are required and someone will anticipate your every need at an almost subconscious level, the staff are also incredibly down to earth and seem to be very good judges of character. They know who to talk to about Gears of War and who to talk to about the merits of their very fine wine collection. Despite the obvious cailibre of this hotel every member of staff will make you feel comfortable and at home.
Having been treated like royalty and fed like a King you’d think it couldn’t get any better; until you take a morning swim in the spa. Voted The UK’s Most Delicious Spa’ by The Good Spa Guide 2010, the luxury Spa is nestled within the walled garden of the hotel and a fusion of contemporary design and traditional Bath stone. A 20 metre indoor swimming pool is couple with a hot tub that extends to an outdoor infinity pool accessible by the press of a button. As you swim out into the brisk winter air and gaze out over acres of parkland it truly befits the ‘wellness’ lifestyle and attitude. You may even see some of the 35 resident horses being exercised around the grounds of what also happens to be a very fine equestrian centre.
The spa facilities include an indoor and outdoor hydrotherapy pool, outdoor salt water plunge pool, 9 state-of-the-art treatment rooms including 2 deluxe suites and one double treatment room, pre- and post-relaxation room with reclining beds, thermal cabins featuring Japanese Salt, amethyst room, aromatic steam, sauna and tepidarium, changing rooms with additional sauna and steam room in both male and female changing rooms, experience showers, fitness suite with some of the latest state of the art equipment, a brasserie, hairdressing salon and boutique. Phew! Did you expect anything else?
If the serene surroundings of the main house, luxury spa and wonderful restaurants aren’t enough then pick up a walking map from the reception along with a pair of Hunter wellies and explore the 500 acres of grounds. Just a walk down the driveway surrounded by beautiful woodlands is fabulous. I’m sure on a nice day they’d prepare you a wonderful picnic and you could venture off for hours without even having to leave the grounds. With baby in tow it wasn’t an option on this occasion but horse riding enthusiasts can also take day trips around the Wiltshire countryside visiting historic villages and stopping at traditional pubs for refreshments. Children can also enjoy lessons on site regardless of their experience whilst adults can indulge with a day of horse riding lessons followed by a full body massage at The Spa, afternoon tea and dinner in The Brasserie! Saddle and spa anyone?
There are hotels that are nice to stay at and there are hotels which are wonderful and leave you feeling like you’ve been away for weeks even when its only days. Lucknam Park is the latter. It is a treat that will stay with you for a long time, if not forever.
Thinking of visiting with the rugrats?
Fear not, we did and were taken care of by The Cotswold Nanny Network. Organised by the Lucknam staff, the Cotswold Nanny Network is the original specialist nanny agency orientated to exclusive hotel childminding. Having never left the baby with anyone other than family, Angela Roach put us at ease by supplying all the details of the nanny that would be looking after the baby. She arrived on time and was so professional putting us instantly at ease. I would recommend them to anyone staying in a hotel in the area. For further information: www.cotswoldnannynetwork.co.uk
Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa
(www.lucknampark.co.uk, T. 01225 742777) has rooms from £330 per room per night (a 2 night stay is required over the weekend period). Room rates are based on two adults sharing a room and are quoted inclusive of use of the Spa facilities and VAT.