Situated in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Wiltshire, Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa is just 10 kilometers from the ancient city of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and close to Castle Combe, often cited as the “prettiest village in England”.
Castle Combe is also home to a nearby racing circuit which regularly hosts vintage rallies and car shows. National Trust-owned Lacock Abbey is a must-visit for Harry Potter fans – it was used as a filming location for the film franchise (among many others).
Why come here?
Everything slows down on the mile-long driveway to the house, lined with beech and lime trees. Towards the end, the striking 18th century stately stack appears. It is not entirely clear who built the house and when – it was built, adapted, modified and refined under different owners; this is evident from a walk in the park with all sorts of buildings, outbuildings, towers and manicured gardens surrounded by hedges to discover.
If you feel like wandering further, Lucknam Park is set in 500 acres of wooded grounds. on our winter visit, we felt more like movie extras, wandering among stark trees, thick grass, and horse trails.
The hotel houses 42 rooms and suites distributed in the main house and the courtyard; it also houses a private six-person cottage. The ambience is that of a classic country house with superb four-poster beds, open fireplaces (lit to order), heavy curtains and thick rugs. The bathrooms provide a stark contrast to the rooms — modern, marble and white with huge tubs and walk-in showers. A small nightlight is a thoughtful touch.
The house is serene and adult; worn wood, oversized furniture, all golds, reds and emerald greens; portraits adorn the walls. Huge windows offer views of tasteful animal sculptures scattered around the grounds.
Eat and drink
A pre-dinner drink in the beautiful lounge is a must; soaring ceilings, twinkling chandeliers and a huge fireplace provide a fabulous, worldly backdrop for one of the hotel’s signature cocktails or one of the classics like a French Martini or our Savoy favorite, a Corpse Reviver No.2 (try it) .
The Brasserie is a strange affair; built as part of the spa it’s a bit like dining in an airport – a bit soulless and incredibly bright which is probably fine during the day but on our evening visit it didn’t create much of atmosphere; a few candles and a slightly heavier hand on the dimmer would soon fix the problem. It’s a shame as the food was really well executed by a polite team – roasted cauliflower soup with a decadent homemade warm cheddar brioche to start followed by incredibly well cooked lemon sole with caper butter; some of their really good bits of chunks on the side are a must.
The hotel’s main and most notable food offering is the Hywel Jones restaurant, which has held a Michelin star for 16 years; it’s a large, traditional dining room with more glitzy chandeliers, the aforementioned high ceilings, and heavy curtains. There are three tasting menus – vegetarian, seasonal and signature, £110 flight with an additional £100 wine pairing.
During our visit we tried both the season and the signature and enjoyed elegant and delicious dishes such as Roasted Scottish Scallop with Brown Prawns, Clams and Cucumber and Wiltshire Venison with Brussels Sprouts, Bromham Parsnips and Medjool date. Their “Caramelia” chocolate bar pudding, using one of Valrhona’s finest chocolate blends, served with popcorn ice cream and peanut butter finishes the meal off on a high note.
What to do
Lucknam Park’s newly refurbished spa is quite something; Located just behind the house, it is light and airy and overlooks a high walled garden which gives the impression of being wild.
The star returns to the hydrotherapy pool; hot tub, you can press a button to access the outdoor section and spend some time warming your soul while gazing through the trees. There are saunas, steam rooms, a Japanese salt room and an amethyst room (in case you need some extra purification) and the treatments are excellent with talented therapists using ESPA products.
The hotel can organize horseback riding in the grounds and offers bicycles to borrow. Thoughtfully there are plenty of rubber boots by the door for muddy walks.
Nearby Melksham is worth a visit for those who enjoy a good antique hunt; King Street Curios and Melksham Arcade are two notable treasure troves for finding a bargain.
Our journey began in the dark hours of a Friday morning, leaving London in the new Lexus LC coupe. A concept-turned-production car, it’s all brawn both outside and under the hood, with a massive 5-litre v8 engine that gives growl and guts – it sounds spectacular; Inside, however, it feels different – it’s built around extreme comfort, smart thinking and ease of use, balanced with the feeling that you’re sitting in a cockpit. One of our favorite moments was discovering the “hud” button that projects your speedo into the windshield – so very Bladerunner.
The LC has forged its own identity, doing things differently in the category. Is it a sports car? Yes, but it looks like a car designed to be driven, not raced – a ten-speed gearbox is set to automatic by default, although there are magnesium gear levers behind the steering wheel for those who want take charge. As the sun rose and the weather warmed up, we pressed the magic button, lowered the roof and enjoyed some fresh air. Not to be too lyrical, but it was damn cheap to start – London to Chippenham and back on a single float with change.
For a slightly more pedestrian route, you can catch a train to Bath or Chippenham, both on a direct route from London, but you’ll need a taxi to transport you to your final destination.
Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Colerne, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN14 8AZ. Rooms start from £330 per night; chancenampark.co.uk