Jackie: We want to talk about David’s Lucknam Park fantasy visit. He can’t stop ranting about it! I was home holding the fort (and minding the taxes!). It’s making me need to return to England, just for my own mystical memories of Lucknam Park.
David: In that special part of the world known as The United Kingdom, there is a spot that is beyond “special.” It rests contentedly in Wiltshire in a village called Colerne, just minutes away from the Roman town of Bath. The “spot” I refer to is a kingdom unto itself, Lucknam Park Hotel, a five-star luxury Relais & Châteaux Country House, which reigns over 500 acres of listed parklands and exceptional gardens. This was my first visit to this celebrated hotel, a stately manor house in the Palladian-style, dating from 1720. Lucknam Park was a private home until 1987 when, fortunately for the lucky guests including myself, it became the elegant hotel, spa and equestrian center it is today; beautifully-restored and fitted for the 21st century, earning the AA five red stars and the Visit Britain Gold Award.
I was immediately checked in and escorted to The Tower Room. Wow! Enormous with a corner location, great windows overlooking the front of the hotel with its tree-lined drive, and on the side a lovely garden.
The accommodation was all antique mahogany furniture, including the most comfortable four poster bed raised about three feet up, and with a silken pleated canopy. A glamorous crystal chandelier and Wi-Fi! One lovely dresser boasted a button which caused a large flat screen TV to rise up for viewing. If this room is “yesterday” (but beautifully up-dated), then the bath is “tomor-row” – all elegant marble, two of almost everything, sinks across from each other, a heated floor extending into an enormous open area with two showers facing each other. It does take two to tango! (JJ, why were you at home?) A discreet knock on the door, and in comes a waiter bearing a gift of fruit, chocolates and Ruinart champagne from the generous and thoughtful General Manager, Harry Murray. Later, when I thanked him, I had just emerged from his new spa where I swam in a football field sized indoor pool with a marble wall housing a 20-foot long open gas fire. At the end of the indoor whirlpool, a button caused the glass wall to slide back, allowing me to swim into the outdoor section of the steaming bath. I told Harry his spa will delight my wife when I return with her to this bit of heaven. He is justly proud of this recent addition to Lucknam Park, and well he should be. Obviously, Harry uses the spa himself; he is a fitness model, a runner and trim, slim and always superbly dressed.
Next morning, after a delicious breakfast, I drove to nearby Castle Combe, the village that so delighted me years ago that I named my production company after it. Just as charming and magical as ever! Then back to Shangri-La (Lucknam Park) for another delightful visit to the spa. Shower, dress and off to the bar, and then the Michelin-starred Park Restaurant and the magic of Executive Chef Hywel Jones. First, a lovely St. Émilion. Then, after the amuse-bouche of wild garlic velouté with herb gnocchi, I started with roasted Scottish scallops accompanied by tiny brandade fritters and tinier carrots… followed happily by a specially-prepared salad of baby tomatoes, rocket and avocado chunks… then succulent pink venison with butternut squash, sage risotto fritters and apple and sloe gin sauce… and a grand finale of olive oil pistachio cake cubes with roasted cherries and yogurt sorbet. I managed to finish my wine. Manfully, I staggered to my room, quite drunk. Not from the wine, from the astonishing feast.
Jackie: OK. I’m eager, it’s gor-geous territory. I know Bath (also close to Stonehenge). I’m ready for Lucknam Park, the spa (and the showers).
David: One day, all this, dear readers, could be yours! Wish upon a star, and we’ll travel…