Lucknam Park, UK

Location: A countryside setting  in Wiltshire

First impressions: It wasn't a deliberate choice to visit the spa at Lucknam Park as sunset approached. But boy, was it a happy coincidence. As the sun turned the sky a dazzling array of pinks and oranges on the first proper day of spring, the open fire running alongside the main pool created mirror images on the water and the arcing glass roof above it. In the outside area of the indoor-outdoor hydrotherapy pool, a line of silent and satisfied punters gazed to the horizon and soaked in the beauty as sunset gave way to stars.If this all sounds rather flowery for a hotel review, then it may be because Lucknam Park in springtime or indeed anytime is enough to stir the poet in all of us.

The facts: A member of the incredibly consistent Relais & Châteaux collection, it is an understated haven in the rolling hills of the Wiltshire countryside just six miles from Bath.Boasting a Michelin-starred restaurant and 42 rooms and suites, the hotel stays very much true to its roots and sticks firmly to the traditional country house model.But it also manages to create a relaxed atmosphere which some luxury hotels can struggle to achieve and feels very comfortable in its own skin. The key for five-star country house properties is to find a consistent level of service while promoting points of differentiation – after all one four-poster bed can blend into another after a while. At Lucknam Park, the main selling points are not just outstanding dining, but also an attendant cookery school and an equestrian centre offering options for beginners through to those wanting to unleash their inner Mr Darcys with a gallop across the estate. While the hotel’s success is built on its firm embrace of its history – the main building remains largely unchanged from its 17th century incarnation – management have also not been afraid to embrace the modern where appropriate. 

A good base for: With Bath only a few miles down the road, it would seem a shame for customers to spend their whole stay within Lucknam’s grounds. But you could certainly forgive them for doing so.

Wow: Nowhere is this more in evidence than in the aforementioned spa, a stylish wood, marble and glass building which is home to nine therapy rooms and was extended last year with the addition of a Well-being House with a studio offering everything from yoga and pilates to dry floatation.How much: A Charming British Escape package at Lucknam Park is available on selected dates for £210 per person, based on two sharing and including breakfast and dinner without drinks.

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