24-Hour Room Service: Lucknam Park, Chippenham, Wiltshire

Lucknam Park stands majestically at the end of an improbably long avenue of lime and beech trees. During the Second World War they were deployed as camouflage for parked Spitfires, although Lucknam's history goes back much further than that. It is a grand Palladian house – too homely to be called a mansion – that somehow looks as though there was a coherent grand design, but there wasn't.

A wealthy Bristolian called James Wallis built the central part of the house with the fortune he made from importing 7,000lb of tobacco from Virginia to England in 1680, and I rather hoped to spot his ghost puffing away in defiance of the hotel's strict no-smoking policy.

Of the many reasons to go to Lucknam, not a few involve physical exertion – its 500 acres of spectacular grounds offer wonderful walks, and there is a widely admired equestrian centre. But my wife and I holed up indoors, lingering for hours over Sunday lunch in the country-house genteel surroundings of The Park restaurant. Lunch, which cost us £35 per person for three courses, was irreproachably sourced from local producers, hence some slightly disconcerting name-checks on the menu.

I had "slow-cooked Burford Brown egg, truffled baby artichokes and leeks, Parmesan and Richard Vine's shoots" followed by "sirloin of Tim Johnson beef" – all credit for Messrs Vine and Johnson for their excellent shoots and top-notch beef.

The Park also has a fantastic wine list, brandished by a French sommelier whose effervescence, had it come in a bottle, would have soaked not just our table but all tables nearby. "Peach, lychees, apricot, it is, as you say in England, top banana," he enthused about our choice of white wine. And when we selected a glass each of dessert wine he bounced over like Tigger to explain that it came from "shrinkled grapes".

Captivated by him, and by a palpable feeling that cutlery had clattered through the ages in this room (the cheese trolley looked as though it had seen action in the Crimea), we took so long over lunch that we left scarcely any time to digest it all before heading to the spa for our late-afternoon massages. In fact I had a horrible feeling that when the masseuse started on my abdominal muscles, she might have been able to identify Richard Vine's shoots. My wife, sensibly, had a facial.

The spa, at the back of a charming walled garden, opened only last November, and is incredibly swanky, very hi-tech and minimalist without looking like a Swiss sanatorium, as these places can. It also has an adjoining brasserie with a wood-fired pizza oven, not that we thought we'd need to eat for another 48 hours. However, of course we demolished room-service sandwiches that night followed by a huge breakfast the next morning, served by our favourite waitress, who came from Germany and pressed us to try a "smurfy", which we took to be another local Wiltshire speciality until she came back with a smoothie.

LOCATION

Lucknam Park, Colerne, Chippenham, Wilts (01225 742777; lucknampark.co.uk ). The hotel is six miles north-east of Bath, outside the village of Colerne, just off the A4 between Bath and Chippenham. Once there a car is scarcely necessary.

Time from nearest mainline station: Bath is easily accessible by train (0845 748 4950; nationalrail.co.uk ) and a taxi from Bath Spa station costs between £17-£20.

COMFORTABLE?

Goodness me, yes. We were upgraded to the fabulous Tower Suite, which is one of only two so-called grand master suites, and has an opulent marble bathroom big and splendid enough to hold a G8 summit.

In the bedroom, a television the size of a small cinema screen rose out of a reproduction bureau, once we'd found the right button to press.

There wasn't anything on telly worth watching, but it was nice to watch the TV going up and down.

Standard and de-luxe rooms are smaller versions of the same thing, full of conventional country-house frills with a few slick nods to the 21st century. They are all decorated differently.

Freebies: Anne Semonin soaps, shampoos and beauty products. And lots of lovely fruit.

Keeping in touch: There is complimentary Wi-Fi in every room, and a computer with a printer available for the use of guests. But surely the point of going to Lucknam is not keeping in touch.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Tower Suite starts at £950 per night, room only. Standard rooms cost from £280, room only. Or you can take a mid-week break, styled a Luxury Escape, which costs £345 per night for two people sharing a standard room for a minimum of two nights, and includes full English breakfast, a one-hour spa treatment for two, as well as champagne and chocolates on arrival.

I'm not paying that: Try the Methuen Arms Hotel (01249 714867; methuenarms.co.uk ) in nearby Corsham – where the Duke of Edinburgh used to play skittles when he was a trainee naval officer stationed nearby. It offers double bedrooms from £75. The price includes a full English breakfast.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee