I’ve said it many times before, but in the days before I had Otis, I had no idea of the scope of luxury family travel. I was someone who thought those special treat trips were either going to be a thing of the past or something we’d reserve for the times we had a babysitter. I didn’t think a fancy hotel and kids were compatible. But, since then, I’ve been proven entirely wrong and we’ve been on all sorts of special trips
One of the most surprising was our short break at Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa near Bath in the UK. This country house hotel, which looks straight out of the pages of your quintessential Jane Austen era dreams, is exactly the type of place I would have imagined as adults-only. But, while it would do very nicely for a romantic couple’s break, it’s also a famously family-friendly hotel with all sorts of little touches that make it an ideal family break.
Here are some reasons why we loved it…
12 reasons to love Lucknam Park Hotel
1. An outdoor wonderland
The hotel is set on 500 acres of gardens and parkland, which you reach via an impressive mile-long avenue of over 400 lime and beech trees. It’s a gorgeous place to explore and there are bikes with trailers available too if you fancy a cycle. You can even borrow wellies. Some of the highlights in the gardens include a picturesque early 17th century walled garden, a formal rose garden, a 1.5 acre arboretum and a historic greenhouse. And there’s also an adventure playground for kids, featuring Tractor Ted, which is right next to two tennis courts and a five-aside pitch for if you have slightly older children. When we were there, there was a sculpture exhibition with lots of animal sculptures dotted around the grounds, much to our son’s delight.
2. Horses galore
Lucknam Park is also home to an equestrian centre, housing around 35 horses. Children aged 3 and up can have pony rides/riding lessons, and babies and toddlers can simply delight in watching the horses. Otis was obsessed!
3. The Hideaway
There’s also an impressive indoor play area for children, which would be especially useful on rainy days. Housed in a converted cottage just a short walk from the main house, it has two floors, one for over sevens and one for under, and there’s a baby area for little ones under 2. It includes things like arts, crafts, music, games, jigsaws, a messy play area, water wall and a playroom with a shop and dressing-up clothes. The area for older kids also has table tennis, table football and lots of other games. It’s a pretty amazing playspace!
4. Gorgeous rooms
The whole of the historic Lucknam Park country house is elegantly plush and the rooms offer classic British grandeur with refined furnishings and antiques. It’s not my usual style, but it’s certainly a luxurious novelty and one that‘s central to the whole country house experience. Despite their historic nature, the rooms also have all the mod cons you need for a comfortable stay. We stayed in the grand suite, which looks out onto the tree-lined drive and has the added luxury of a separate living space, which was ideal for when Otis had gone to bed – we stayed up playing scrabble and eating treats J There are also cottages available for larger groups.
5. A welcome gift for Otis
It’s always a nice little bonus when a hotel gives a gift to its younger guests. Otis was delighted with his Tractor Ted book and bath toys, especially when he saw Tractor Ted in the playground too! Plus all the staff were wonderfully welcoming to Otis and us as family.
6. A special afternoon tea
As you’ll know, I’m a huge fan of afternoon tea and Lucknam Park serves a decadent one, complete with fancy cakes and perfect scones. For the little ones, there’s a kids’ version, which Otis loved. It was his first introduction to afternoon tea J
7. Excellent food
Lucknam Park has two on-site restaurants – the Michelin-starred Hywel Jones and the more casual Brasserie. Hywel Jones welcomes children over five, and younger children can go there up until 8pm but with a reduced menu served at that time. We opted to go the Brasserie with Otis, which is right next to the spa and has a suitably calm design and ambience. The menu was nice and kid friendly (Otis had pizza), but also had lots of good seasonal dishes for the adults too. Later in the evening we ordered some petit fours on room service from Hywel Jones, which were perfectly delicious and highly recommended. Breakfast was also a treat with a well-stocked buffet and a la carte menu. They even made Otis some pancakes.
8. A gorgeous swimming pool and spa
One of the biggest highlights of the hotel for me was the pool and spa. I had a pregnancy massage, which left me feeling wonderfully blissed out. And we had some fun altogether enjoying the pool. The pool has a quiet time between 11am and 3pm, so best to bring little children outside of those times, which is ideal as it means you can enjoy yourself without feeling guilty about disturbing others. The spa also offers mini treatments for children aged 8 and up. And a highlight of the pool is an indoor/outdoor spa tub where you can move from inside to outside through a handy sliding window in the pool itself.
9. Fabulous location
In the southern Cotswolds and about 20 minutes from Bath, Lucknam Park is well situated for day trips in the surrounding area. We went to the picturesque village of Castle Combe, which is known for its traditional Cotswold architecture and its honesty boxes where local people leave out treats, such as cake and biscuits, that you pay a donation for. The hotel is also close the National Trust property Lacock.
10. On-site cookery school
As well as the on-site equestrian centre, there’s also a cookery school, which offers family cooking classes. The classes are suitable for ages 6 and up, including dishes such as pancakes and hot chocolate sauce and blueberry cupcakes with buttercream. I would absolutely love to do this with Otis when he’s older!
11. Babysitting available
If you want to go out in the evening or perhaps enjoy a meal at Hywel Jones or a drink down in the bar, you can arrange babysitting in your room. This is arranged through Hügaa or the dedicated hotel nanny, but you must book in advance.
12. Lot of activities for children
As well as the horseriding and general playing around the grounds, you can also book other kid’s activities including a family falconry experience, duck herding(!), archery and tennis lessons. These need to be arranged in advance though.
Have you been to Lucknam Park? What did you think?