Travel: A socially distanced staycation at Lucknam Park
- Credit: nicksmithphotography.com
With 500 acres of parkland to explore, this luxury hotel in Wiltshire is the perfect place to press the reset button
This year will have been a time of much reflection and re-evaluation for many people, forced by the pandemic to adopt a slower pace of life. Less time spent commuting to work, ferrying kids to school and going out to
socialise has afforded us time to focus on home life and our more immediate environs.
That’s all well and good for a while but extended periods of time spent staring at the same four walls and restrictions on travel providing less of an incentive to take any proper time off work may have led to ‘lockdown burnout’ for some.
At Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, in Wiltshire, social distancing has been a way of life for more than 300 years. Dating back to 1720, this Palladian mansion sits in 500 acres of listed parkland, cocooning guests in an abundance of personal space in which to relax and reconnect with nature.
A magnificent mile-long driveway lined with 400 lime and beech trees sets the scene and evokes an immediate sense of calm on arrival. During World War II, the mansion house was transformed into a bustling informal headquarters for airmen from the neighbouring aerodrome and the driveway was used to park Spitfire and Hurricane planes – the huge trees providing a perfect camouflage.
Inside the mansion house and within the courtyard-facing coach houses that sit behind it are 43 individually-designed bedrooms. Ours was positioned off a beautifully landscaped gravelled pathway leading from the main house to the spa and
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brasserie and featured a roll top bath and views of the gardens.
At the time of our stay, face coverings were required in all indoor communal areas apart from when eating, drinking or using the spa but with acres of outdoor space and, fortunately for us, plenty of sunshine throughout our stay, we spent
little time in these areas.
The formal gardens of the hotel are spread across five acres and include a pretty walled garden – dominated by the listed dovecote building dating back to the 18th century – and a rose garden. Works of art, including a sculpture of Mozart and an
impressive horse’s head, are scattered around the grounds, providing an interesting art trail. If you want to explore the wider grounds, parkland and woodland then bikes are provided for guests use and, if you’re experienced enough, you can jump on one of the horses from the estate’s equestrian centre. Other outdoor activities include archery, clay pigeon shooting and croquet.
The time we did spend indoors was to experience the seasonal tasting menu at the Michelin-starred, Restaurant Hywel Jones, as well as a less formal dining experience at The Brasserie. The former took place in the ballroom of the main house,
where traditional dishes such as roast Scottish diver scallops and dressed Cornish crab were served alongside Driftwood goats cheese and a kalamansi palate cleanser. There are three seven-course tasting menus to choose from – each costing £110 per head.
In my book, any R&R weekend should include a trip to the spa. Enclosed by Lucknam’s charming travel walled gardens and manicured lawns, the ESPA Spa makes the most of its setting. Many of the treatment rooms open out to the gardens and the hydrotherapy pool leads from indoors to outdoors via an electronic sliding window, so you can enjoy the pretty views in the fresh air while sitting in the bubbles.
American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.” I am not a patient person but the nature I was able to absorb at Lucknam Park has definitely helped me press the reset button on 2020.
• Visit Castle Combe arguably the prettiest village in the Cotswolds.
• Lunch at The White Hart at Ford – a pretty streamside pub garden less than five minutes away from the hotel.
• Take a day trip to Bath (about 30 minutes’ drive) for a bit of shopping and sightseeing.
- Rates at Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa start from £375 for two people. Web: lucknampark.co.uk
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