Lucknam Park has, traditionally, cultivated it’s five star reputation as an exclusive, luxury country house hotel and spa, boasting a Michelin starred restaurant, on the grounds that it is a very adult kind of destination. There is fine dining, country pursuits, an elegant spa and distinguished style, steeped in history at every turn. It wouldn’t necessarily be the first place you would think of when booking a family weekend away – until now.
We chose my birthday weekend to re-visit the hotel once a favourite with my husband and I in our pre-kids days, for a family mini-break in the newly-renovated ‘Keepers Cottage’ nestled within the hotel’s extensive 500-acre estate. The charming self-contained cottage is far enough away from the 42-room main hotel, so as not to disturb guests with our two rowdy toddlers, but close enough to enjoy all the trappings of this beautiful, heritage hotel.
Rosie and her family stayed at Keepers Cottage at Lucknam Park
The cottage could comfortably host six adults or a family with up to four children in the three bedrooms and there is a large open-plan kitchen and dining area on the ground floor, plus a spacious, high-ceilinged lounge on the first floor. All of the bedrooms have en suites and there are pretty front and back private gardens for al-fresco dining during summer months.
The cottage has its own private back garden
Whilst dinner in Lucknam’s Michelin-starred Restaurant Hywel Jones was off the menu for us this time (it simply wouldn’t have been appreciated by our chips-loving children), we enjoyed one delicious evening meal in The Brasserie, a more informal dining space set within the walled garden. However, dinner on the second night was one of the highlights of the trip.
A chef prepared dinner for the family in the cottage
In order to make the most of the entertaining space at Keeper’s Cottage, we were granted our own chef and waiter for the evening to enjoy a full family dinner service, without having to leave the comfort of the cottage, and it was one of the most unique and memorable dining experiences I have ever tried. Our chef, Alex, was a sous chef at Hywel Jones, and Jordan, our butler, turned out to be a head-waiter. The three-course meal was prepared seemingly effortlessly before our eyes – we started with roast Scottish diver scallops, followed by line caught Cornish seabass for me, and Grilled Sirloin of Wiltshire beef for my husband. The desserts – hot raspberry soufflé with mint custard, and dark chocolate tart with salted caramel ice cream, were the stuff dreams are made of. As if this wasn’t enough, our waiter-turned-sommelier paired a different wine with each course, which made for very happy parents.
Meanwhile, the children contentedly feasted on crunchy vegetables with a cream cheese dip, followed by chicken with roasted potatoes and broccoli. They could then retire to bed as soon as they were ready, as we were already at home, and that made for a smooth and relaxing evening for us all. There was no hurry and we could savour the dessert wine at the end of the meal.
Rosie and her family enjoyed a three-course meal cooked by a chef
The joy of seeing the chef prepare such gastronomic treats before our eyes – using our own oven and utensils – was not lost on any of us and has been enthusiastically described to friends and family since. A sure sign of success.
The following morning, leaving the children to burn off some energy in the 20-metre indoor swimming pool, which encourages family swimming at certain times, I ventured into the ESPA at Lucknam Park, for a little me-time. Housed in a haven of tranquility, the spa boasts eight state of the art therapy rooms with highly-qualified therapists offering a full menu of luxury treatments. I opted for a 90-minute ESPA Ultimate Age-Defyer Facial. Their most effective anti-aging facial boosts radiance and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles – ideal for a weary working mum – with a heavenly scalp, neck and facial massage thrown in, so I was floating on air when I left.
The ESPA at Lucknam Park has eight therapy rooms
Re-charged, we were ready to explore what’s on offer outdoors on the estate – there is now an adventure playground for the young ones, and the established Equestrian Centre can arrange horse-riding lessons for all ages. Wet weather is not a problem for families visiting Lucknam Park either. Set adjacent to Keeper’s Cottage is the fantastic family facility called The Hideaway – a kid-friendly converted cottage of fun and creativity with rooms set up for all age groups from a baby sensory room, to a crafting space with every kind of material a budding Picasso could wish for, a train table and great selection of story books, to table tennis and a gaming room to occupy teenagers. It was hard to drag our boys away.
Although Lucknam is just six miles from Bath, we found no need to leave the estate during our two-night break. Each family member was well catered for and plans will undoubtedly be made to return. Meanwhile, the children are currently dining-out on conversations about their own private chef and butler. Magic.
Keeper’s Cottage, Lucknam Park & Spa, Wiltshire (T. 01225 742 777, www.lucknampark.co.uk), costs from £1,470 per night based on a family of six sharing on a room only basis. Two night minimum stay over the weekend. A private chef and waiter in the cottage costs £175. Three course menu costs from £65 per person.