Great British Boltholes: Bowood Hotel, Wiltshire

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  • Charlotte Moore enjoys a Marchioness moment in the English countryside

    Charlotte Moore enjoys a Marchioness moment in the English countryside

    Why go? For slick service, stunning grounds, and a swanky spa and swimming pool. Less than two hours from London, this spacious, modern, family-friendly hotel near Calne is a good place to head for some rural peace and pampering. The kids can see farm animals at the newly-opened Tractor Ted’s Little Farm, plus (if you really love him), there’s also a championship golf course.

    Make an entrance: the Golden Gates at Bowood

    Best for? Anyone who enjoys a bit of stately home action. The 43-room Bowood Hotel sits in the rolling grounds of 18th century Bowood House and guests enjoy free admission to both house and gardens (open until 5 November 2013, You can wander though the Capability Brown-designed parkland, which includes 60 acres of rhododendron walks (in bloom till early June), and nose about the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne’s magnificent Georgian home with sculptures, paintings and antiques galore. The estate also puts on lots of events, including guided tours of the walled garden and the Wiltshire Game and Country Fair (28-29 September).

    The look: Cosy but still cool. The décor is stylish but not intimidating with grey walls, optical prints and blanket cushions. The bedrooms and bathrooms are big and comfy, which compensates for a lack of personality. There are fabulous views onto the seemingly endless parkland with the odd deer popping by early in the morning.

    Ancient meets modern: enjoy contemporary comforts on an historic estate
    I’m hungry… That’s good, because you can drink and dine well here – house wine starts at £4.95 for a glass with cocktails £9.50. The young and exuberant staff at the hotel’s award-winning Shelburne restaurant deliver a seasonal menu featuring dishes such as pan-fried scallops with kohlrabi and camomile (£12.50), and rump of lamb with aubergine (£22.50). Well-cooked and just innovative enough, it’s exactly what you need after all that walking in the grounds and swimming in the glass-fronted 15-metre indoor pool. 

    While you’re there… Head into Bath (a 30 minute drive) for a mooch round the bijou shops and honey-hued Georgian buildings. Visit the Bowood Spa for a dream-like 60 minute Sundari facial (the products are from Christy Turlington’s Ayurvedic-inspired luxe beauty brand). Or take a drive through Wiltshire’s chintzy villages to fantasise about what life would be like if you really did open that vintage clothes/tea shop. A handy place for lunch in the sun is the Lansdowne Arms ( at the bottom of Bowood’s drive – try the sweet potato curry with homemade chutneys.

    Spa quality: stroll through the grounds then relax in the pool at Bowood

    Dress code: Relaxed cool – slouchy Sandro dresses and chunky cardigans for girls, APC chinos and checked shirts for boys. 

    Book now: Bowood Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort, Derry Hill, Calne, Wiltshire, SN11 9PQ (01249 822228; In May double rooms cost from £150 with breakfast. Wifi and spa admission is complimentary.

    Info: If you’re driving, Bowood is four miles from Junction 17 on the M4. The nearest train station is Chippenham, a taxi takes 15 minutes and costs £10. For more information on the area see

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