AS the heatwave finally surrendered to a weekend of tempestuous weather, the prospect of a visit to Bowood Spa seemed a tempting one.

I have visited Bowood House and Gardens, near Calne, on many occasions over the years, but never once set foot in the hotel so it was with a pleasing sense of anticipation I drove past the usual entrance and instead turned through the grand pillars opposite the Lansdowne Arms and enjoyed the spectacle of the long drive flanked, by overarching trees. Already you feel you are getting away from it all.

The hotel itself is tucked away discreetly among the trees, with the entrance to the spa on the right, promising a chance escape, relax and unwind. Inside a bright, calm reception area we were made most welcome and escorted to the Tower room, for luxurious facial treatments.

The spa claims to promote the harmony of mind, body and soul, and it offers all sorts of beauty treatments, from an express facial to full body massages, as well as manicures and pedicures.

I should point out, that I am neither a habitué of spas, nor a regular recipient of luxurious facial treatments (and it was the first time my partner had experienced either) but it turned out to be an experience we both enjoyed very much. The treatment room accommodated us both, and we enjoyed a rare moment of pampering, with all the cleansing, exfoliating, moisturising and so on, with a whole host of beautifully scented, natural ingredients, while soothing music played quietly in the background.

Following the treatment, we visited the spa facility, which consists of a rock sauna and a crystal steam room, with a jacuzzi and a small swimming pool. It was pleasant indeed to move from sauna to perfumed shower, to steam room, to pool, enjoying the heat and the cool. Although it was a busy weekend, it never felt at all crowded.

Lounging by the pool, it is easy to pass the time meditating on the view. The glass wall offers a calming vista, with a ring of trees surrounding the green, grassy bowl of the golf course. A small flock of geese nibbled on the grass and on a perfectly placed pond at the bottom of the slope, a singular swan glided, while it seemed to consider its reflection in the water. At one point a young deer emerged from the trees, surveyed its surroundings, and bounded off again a few minutes later.

It is a family swimming pool (at certain times of the day) which is an absolute boon if you are staying at the hotel with children, and a slight drawback if you are wanting to contemplate the bounding deer in a long, deep period of almost silence. The changing rooms and facilities are light, comfortable and absolutely immaculate.

Later, relaxed and pampered, we moved into the Bowood Hotel, its beautifully furnished rooms designed by the Marchioness of Lansdowne, influenced by heritage colours and referencing the history of the estate. I liked the fireplace and the wall of bookshelves, the books appealingly arranged by the colour of their cover.

We dined in the Shelburne Restaurant, a high-ceilinged room with French windows overlooking a terrace. An old plan of the estate adorns the menus, which offer a wide range of dishes, with grill selections as well as main courses, Bowood classics and dishes to share. I was delighted to find a special vegetarian and vegan menu offered too, which includes information on gluten free and dairy free options.

Starters include regional specialities, such as the Severn and Wye smoked salmon, while the main courses include traditional British offerings like roasted lamb rump alongside more exotic options such as Korean-spiced chicken breast, served with kimchi and coriander-scented rice.

My vegan starter was black bean hummus with mango and lime salsa, serves with spring onions and vegetable crisps – an interesting variety of complementary flavours and textures, perfectly sized to whet the appetite. My partner chose the dry-aged flat iron steak from the grill menu – he said the steak was excellent - and I chose the tasty butternut squash and sweet potato curry.

Strawberries for pudding – macerated with rosewater and vanilla sugar, served with tiny nasturtium leaves and flower petals. Beautifully presented, this was a light finale that still felt like a pleasing indulgence.

Throughout the afternoon, from the welcome extended when we arrived at the spa, through the beauty treatments and the dinner, the staff at Bowood were unfailing kind, helpful and polite, without being intrusive. Bowood is a beautiful estate, and it was a treat to discover new part of it, after all this time. While it is unlikely I shall ever be a marchioness, for one afternoon, I enjoyed imagining what it might feel like to be one.

A twilight spa and dinner package, including use of the spa, a treatment and two-course meal (available Monday to Thursday between 3pm and 8pm) costs from £105 per person. For more information, visit