Because I write about the doings of Swindon Borough Council, I was invited, with dozens of others, to have a look around the newly refurbished Lydiard Park Hotel and Conference Centre, which the council owns and runs.

I don’t think I’d ever been there before, though it is just possible that in a former job I spent the night there on one of those corporate away day things companies like so much these days.

Anyway, I have no memory of it, so I was rather hoping to be marching up to the front of the wonderful listed building we all know so well.

Unfortunately, the entrance to the hotel is around the side in a late 20th century annexe, and, well, let’s say it perfectly embodies the corporate architecture of the times.

Inside, however, it’s rather different.

The lobby and former bar, have been transformed into a bright, airy open space which can be used for a variety of purposes and which opens to a small courtyard but from there it’s merely yards to the front of the house proper.

Even better around the other side of the bar is the Fern bar, which I was amazed to learn had been the hotel’s old swimming pool.

It feels much more like the old palm courts of an elegant Poirot-era hotel, and again opens onto a very pleasant courtyard with thematically-appropriate wrought iron seats and tables.

The rooms are very nicely made up, if perhaps a little on the small side, and while I’m not the target audience, the family rooms, with single beds in an annex to the main room, giving a little more privacy and space to everyone seems a decent idea.

I was a bit taken aback by the idea of a Bluetooth-enabled bathroom mirror, but yes, music or a podcast or the radio while you shower, or shave, or do your mascara, or all three, without endangering any electrical devices in the steam or water seems a good idea.

And then, hurrah, the buffet. We’d been tempted along by the promise of trying out some dished of the new executive chef  Marcus Vevey, who has previously worked in restaurants in Bath.

We were offered a buffet and it was a winner. Beetroot hummus, and broccoli fritters were excellent. The mini cottage pies were very cute, and tasty, (if trickier than you’d think to pick up with tongs without crushing the case) and the potato parsley and chorizo cakes sublime. Reader, to my shame, I had two. All right, three)

I was about to write that the star of the show was the Asian slaw, and while its zingy, fresh spiciness was the best thing on my overloaded plate, in fact the star of the show is, will always be, the setting and the park and Lydiard House itself.

But the way the hotel has been done up, and the food its kitchen is putting out, makes it worthy of its place next door to Swindon’s best building.