The hotel houses 42 individually styled rooms and suites, including a charming three-bedroom country cottage that exudes old-school elegance: think mahogany furniture and Regency-style decor in a refined, muted palette. After a restorative night’s sleep – add a four-poster bed, subtract a boisterous four-year-old – we head to breakfast in the opulent, Michelin-starred Restaurant Hywel Jones, with its chandeliers and divine cloud-painted ceiling. The emphasis at both RHJ and its more informal sibling, The Brasserie, is on exemplary cooking using fresh, seasonal ingredients, often sourced from the on-site kitchen garden. We feast on home-smoked salmon and ludicrously creamy scrambled eggs, ending our meal with a delicious jam made from Lucknam Park strawberries, slathered generously on to home-baked bread with home-churned butter.
The stunning grounds feature tennis courts, a croquet lawn, a football pitch, an equestrian centre (Lucknam Park is heaven for horse lovers) and a quintessentially English walled garden where roses, hydrangea and late-blooming wisteria all vie for attention. Facilities here are legion; we make the most of a lavish spa featuring thermal cabins, Japanese salt and amethyst rooms, and no less than three pools. Before long, I’ve indulged in a dreamy ESPA Inner Calm Massage – a deep-tissue treatment designed to relax, realign and restore. The focus here is on pleasure and wellbeing, rather than acid peels or pseudo-medical procedures. After a frenetically paced summer, the sense of ‘switch-off’ we enjoy at the spa is priceless.
Dinner at Restaurant Hywel Jones is a sumptuous affair, the magnificence of Lucknam Park’s former ballroom matched only by the mastery of its kitchen. My husband’s starter – roast diver scallops, heritage carrot, spiced pork croquette, raisin and caper dressing – fuses fresh seafood flavours with unctuous, earthy undertones, while my Cornish lobster with strawberry and melon gazpacho conjures up summer in one mouthful. Robust and perfectly executed, our main courses of line-caught seabass, Isle of Wight tomato, octopus and saffron, is one of the finest dishes we’ve eaten this year. For dessert, I opt for the Wiltshire honey crème brûlée with gooseberry and elderflower – a fairy-tale pudding, delicately flavoured and light – while my husband declares his banana parfait with warm rum and raisin sponge “the stuff of dreams”. The expertly curated wine list ranges from affable, affordable choices to rare and exquisite finds, with a highly knowledgeable sommelier on hand to advise budding oenophiles.
Sundays are often a joy – carte blanche for laziness – but one spent at Lucknam Park raises the bar entirely. Whether reading in the dappled sunlight, indulging in the hotel’s renowned Sunday roast, or switching off at the spa (I recommend finding time for all three), I defy anyone not to leave refreshed and rejuvenated. A month of Sundays distilled into one.
The more adventurous of spirit may want to explore locally, and Lucknam Park is perfectly positioned for jaunts to Bath, Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge. Whether you’re an intrepid sightseer or spa junkie, this refined yet welcoming gem of a hotel is sure to charm. All this and only an hour and a half, yet worlds apart, from the frenetic whirlwind of London.