I do like a grand entrance and there is none more impressive than the mile long avenue lined with four hundred lime and beech trees leading to the majestic Lucknam Park House. Once your car has swept up to the classical portico entrance and you have entered the elegant hallway reception, your worries can be left at the door because from that moment all your needs will be met in spectacular fashion.
Preparation for a few days at Lucknam Park perhaps could be the most arduous part of the process. What to pack?
Check list could involve; best clothes for looking good in the elegant restaurant, drawing room or library; lycra for cycling, tennis whites, football kit; outdoor clothing for exploring the 500 acres of grounds; or maybe a gentle game of croquet; jodpurs to take advantage of the 35 horses in the beautifully presented equestrian centre. Here, whether you are a beginner or seasoned rider, there is hacking through the Cotswolds villages or their cross country course created by Badminton course builders, the Willis Brothers and an all weather full size arena which allows you to hone your skills in dressage and showjumping or even the chance to attend specialist classes with top riders from around the world – it really does appear that Lucknam Park has thought of everything.
And finally but not least there is the Cookery School with its choice of 24 courses ranging from ‘Health is Wealth’, Indian Cuisine and Michelin Star cooking at home overseen by chef Hrishikesh Desai and Michelin starred executive chef Hywel Jones . The courses start at £175 per person.
There is certainly no excuse to feel anything but fully occupied at Lucknam Park but should your pace be a little less hectic there is always the award winning Well House and Spa.
The award-winning Spa is particularly special with nine luxurious treatment rooms, thermal cabins, sauna and steam rooms. There are too many fabulous treatments to mention so go directly to Lucknam Park’s web site for all the innovative treatments.
The Spa has selected three renowned brands to head their collection of treatments, Anne Semonin, Carita Paris and a stunning organic range created in the UK Ila, all are internationally recognised as leaders in their respective specialist fields. Be assured whichever your choice you are going to feel 100% better after it!
Then there is the Wellness Centre offering yoga and pilates classes with personal trainers to ensure you leave in tip top condition. Finally the choice of pools ; an indoor heated, an indoor and outdoor hydrotherapy pool and an outdoor saltwater plunge pool. The Well Centre is a serious ‘spa’ – this is not just a few pampering treatments which is just perfect for most of us but if you have a real need of re-balancing your life then there are visiting consultants throughout the year who offer specialist clinics in sleep and nutrition alongside yoga retreats with renowned practitioners. These courses are residential and focus on delivering sustained results to improve your on going well being.
So if you are a stressed out high flyer, get in your helicopter, land at Lucknam Park’s helipad and have a well deserved time to restore your balance of body and mind and take some time out just for yourself!!
Our stay was far too short to have embraced all that Lucknam had to offer, but what we did experience was perfect. We arrived midday on a Sunday so opted to have Sunday lunch rather than a late meal. We had champagne in the drawing room followed by a perfect Sunday lunch, thanks to the well deserved Michelin Star earned by Executive Chef Hywel Jones.
The dining room is another stunning room and it is worth distracting yourself away from the important task of consuming a delicious meal, to look up and take in your surroundings in particular to admire the high ceiling ornamented with a fresco of the sky and studded with opulent crystal chandeliers reflecting its previous existence as the house’s ballroom.
After our lunch we had a brief rest in our superb suite, with its four poster bed and elegant antique furniture. Then it was time for our treatments – a more wonderful experience would be hard to better. The spa staff were particularly attentive without intruding on your relaxation.
I think, especially on a Sunday, having lunch is preferable as we were able to follow that with our spa treatments and swim and still had time to relax before sampling the delights of the Brasserie.
The Brasserie shares the same building as the Spa and offers a more relaxed eating experience with its open kitchen and wood burning stove, furnished with comfy cream armchairs, wooden tables and views of the garden. The menu has been created again by Hywel Jones and caters for all styles of eating from snacks to full three course meals but there are healthy options to respect that we are in the Well Centre! Who could resist the ‘healthy options’ of a bitter chocolate, nut and red berry torte – guilt free eating!
Our stay came to an end all too soon. Lucknam Park has so much to offer that I could easily envisage spending a week here and probably not needing to leave the 500 acres of grounds. Of course we shouldn’t get carried away as the reality of the cost of a week here would be quite substantial but if money is no obstacle, a week here with or without a family would be a memorable experience.
Our visit to Lucknam Park coincided with a road test on the Mitsubishi Shogun, and this made our drive there and back so much more enjoyable, seeing it from the elevated driving position of this impressive 4WD.
The Shogun was launched as far back as 1982 and became a global best seller throughout the 80s and 90s and into the new millennium, but its market has shrunk as so many competitors joined the battle for the lucrative 4×4 market, which expanded into the luxury end of the market served so well by Land Rover, who make the more luxurious Range Rovers for owners who hardly ever go off road!
Thus the Range Rover became known as the ‘Chelsea Tractor’, and became the preserve of petite blondes doing the ‘school run’ !
However, the Shogun has established itself, beyond doubt, as one of, if not ‘the’ most reliable 4 x 4 vehicles on the market, and still manages to do this at less than half the price of a Range Rover.
Shogun prices range from £28,249 to £36,799, whilst the Range Rover ‘Vogue’ prices range from £73,950 to £89,650
The Shogun can do everything a Range Rover can do off-road, although it is a little less sophisticated ‘on road’ which is where most Range Rovers spend most of their time, and where they shine compared to the competition, but the off-road abilities of the Shogun are legendary.
The Shogun used to have a huge share of the 4 x 4 market by being a reliable off-roader, without the high price tag of its more polished rivals, and this certainly made it the 4×4 of choice for farmers and landowners and anyone wanting reliable 4×4 performance.
I remember being on many shoots where all the guns drove Range Rovers, either the Vogue or Sports models, and the shoot owner drove a Japanese 4WD, invariably a Mitsubishi ‘Shogun’, mainly for the price saving, but also for the reliability, which Land Rover fought so hard to emulate.
However, Mitsubishi are improving their range all the time and the new Shogun is the most sophisticated version yet of this iconic 4X4. If you want to find out more about their range we will be publishing a review of some of their latest models in the near future.
Chrissy Jarman, Features editor of The Vintage Magazine