For a thoroughly indulgent stay in the countryside where you don’t need to fret about babysitting arrangements, head to Wiltshire and be spoiled with Michelin-starred food, spa pampering and traditional English grandeur, even if you can’t leave the kids behind.
Set down a long tree-lined drive in 500 acres of manicured parkland in the southern Cotswolds, Lucknam Park is an imposing 18th century manor house, used as a private home until 1987. If the outside is suitably fairy-tale with turrets, inviting woodlands and even a clock tower cloaked in ivy, inside feels like wandering into the country pile of distant grand relatives rather than a hotel, with discreet but welcoming staff, and ancestral paintings on every wall. Beyond the hushed tranquillity of the reception rooms, Lucknam Park offers all the modern trappings of a five-star hotel, with tennis courts, a five a side football pitch, croquet lawn, award-winning spa, two restaurants, and even its own equestrian centre. Better still, despite the refined surroundings, children aren’t expected to be seen and not heard, but are just as spoilt as adults. From the stack of board games by the fire, so you can linger over afternoon tea in peace, to the mini wellies available for exploring the grounds, everything has been thought of so parents can relax.
With an opulent country house feel, the rooms perfectly match their impressive surroundings so you feel suitably to the manor born (for a weekend at least). For families, the Grand Courtyard suite with spacious living area is heaven sent, connected by a hallway to an elegant Park room. Both are accessed by a private front door from the pretty courtyard so it feels like staying in a self-contained apartment. The suites themselves are palatial and quintessentially English, with mahogany furniture, plump sofas, and a grand four poster bed.
Lucknam’s brasserie serves a full a la carte menu all day including homemade pizzas and lip-smacking burgers. The Scotch egg starter and wood fired steaks are a highlight, while crowd-pleasing desserts include Wye Valley rhubarb trifle, sticky toffee pudding and an excellent selection of local cheeses. In the main house, the former ballroom houses the popular Michelin-starred restaurant from Hywel Jones. Unusually, parents don’t need to miss out on fine dining either, as over 5’s are welcome for dinner.
Will the kids be bored?
No chance. The hotel offers everything from croquet and archery lessons, to falconry and duck herding. Family films are screened twice a day, there are children’s cooking lessons and the equestrian centre offers pony rides around the grounds. Generous family swim times at the toasty 20-metre spa pool mean parents can take turns in the water, while the other samples the sauna, steam room, outdoor hydrotherapy pool and Japanese salt room. Boredom’s not an option.
Lucknam Park is a member of the Pride of Britain Hotels. Rooms start from £459 per night for two sharing including breakfast. Book at www.prideofbritainhotels.com or call 0800 089 3929.