When I think of the ultimate English countryside estate, Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa is exactly what comes to mind. About 90 minutes from London by train, it’s an exceptional find for families visiting nearby Bath — a town not necessarily known for stylish lodging.
Although Lucknam is a bit tricky to find by car, you’ll begin to relax and decompress once you reach the nearly one-mile-long private driveway, lined with perfectly straight rows of trees used by the Royal Air Force in World War II to hide Spitfires. This dramatic entrance, with the estate in sight at the far end, signals a very special place.
What makes this hotel so wonderful is that the management and staff create a homey ambience in the formal surroundings. The staff are gracious and helpful, but not in an intrusive way.
Lucknam has 42 rooms and suites, with many connecting options that are ideal for families. We stayed in a suite connecting to a deluxe room with twin beds. Our suite overlooked the magnificent grounds and had French doors opening to a private terrace, where the kids could go outside to burn off some energy in the morning while we relaxed over coffee delivered precisely at our requested time each day (it’s a pricey service, but the indulgence is worth the splurge).
Explore Lucknam’s spectacular private drive on horseback
Our most memorable experience was our wonderful hack (British for horseback ride) at the brilliantly run equestrian center. Exploring the estate’s bucolic grounds is a must. No need to pack riding boots or helmets; they’re available for small fee. Pony rides are offered for guests too young to ride horseback.
Families who are not equestrian fans can explore the 500-plus acres by bike or foot on the lovely walking and running trails. Trailers and mini wellingtons are available for little ones. If the kids still have some energy left, there is a great playground next to the horse pasture.
Budding chefs must try the fabulous cookery school, which offers classes for families and children during school holidays.
Lucknam recently underwent a multimillion-pound expansion to add a fabulous spa facility. It has a 20m indoor swimming pool (quiet time is 11a-3p). I highly recommend that parents arrange for babysitting to enjoy a spa treatment and the complimentary hydrotherapy treatment rooms.
Because English weather is unpredictable, the Lucknam’s two lighted tennis courts are indoors. If the weather cooperates, what could be more English than a game of croquet on the lawn?
Park is a Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurant with stunning decor and a prix fixe menu. Children over 5 are welcome until 8p, but it’s worth noting that we ate here with our tween and teenager, and they were the only children in the dining room.
We had a 7:30 dinner reservation for Park and were requested for cocktails and canapes in the parlor at 6:45. The parlor has beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the front lawn. Our favorite waiter offered to create special nonalcoholic cocktails for our daughters, and our food order was taken during this time. We felt like we had gone back in time and were genuinely experiencing life in a country manor house. It elevated the dining experience to another level.
Guests can enjoy traditional afternoon tea or drinks and a light menu in the parlor. The more casual Brasserie is the best family dinner option, with a great kids’ menu and outdoor seating.
Breakfast, included in the rates, is offered at the Brasserie as well as Park; both are a must-try.
Lucknam is about a 20-minute drive from the popular tourist attractions at Bath, a Georgian spa town built around the hot springs. Order tickets to the Roman Baths Museum online to avoid the long queue.
The hotel also makes a good home base for touring the Cotswolds. We visited the charming village of Lacock, where part of the sixth Harry Potter movie was filmed.
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Editor’s Note: Sandy was hosted by Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa to review the property for Ciao Bambino. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Sandy Pappas.
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