Holme Lacy is a splendid sandstone country mansion in the county of Hereford. It began its life in medieval times as a simple manor house but it was then successively remodelled by the Viscounts Scudamore, the Dukes of Beaufort, the Dukes of Norfolk and the Earls of Chesterfield until it reached its current august proportions in the nineteenth century.
Well almost. In 1909 the house passed out of the hands of the old aristocracy when it was bought by Sir Robert Lucas-Tooth, an Australian brewing millionaire who funded its last blaze of glory. Sir Robert built the oak-panelled ballroom (now the hotel’s Bistro 32) for a family wedding, and to impress the British toffs. Lucas-Tooth also built the splendid grand staircase that still stands today. The company he employed fitted out great ocean-going liners like the Titanic and it shows.
Sadly all three of the nouveau baronet’s sons were killed in World War I, so in 1919 – with no one to hand Holme Lacy on to – the Lucas-Tooth estate sold it to Mr Noel Wills (of Wills’ Tobacco fame). In due course his widow passed the mansion to Hereford County Council who found various uses for it -including a women’s hospital- before Warner Leisure took over in 1995 to run it as the current dazzling hotel you see before you now.
While restoring Holme Lacy to its former glory, Warner have also introduced fun with a capital F. Most guests stay for four nights (starting on Monday) or three nights (starting on Friday) and from the moment they arrive there is plenty to do. It’s as if a cruise liner with plenty of food and round-the-clock activities has berthed itself inside Downtown Abbey.
Holme-Lacy guests get breakfast and dinner included either in the brasserie 32 (à la carte) or the Market Kitchen (self service buffet), plus an over-the-top afternoon tea as an extra. There are also great pastimes such archery, target-shooting, line-dancing, salsa lessons, film screenings, and trivia quizzes, all for free. Extras include excellent spa treatments, gin-tastings, trips into Hereford, and that abundant afternoon tea with sandwiches, several kinds of cake, cream and scones. There is also live entertainment all day long to accompany the bar service in the elegant drawing rooms constructed for Sir Robert Lucas-Tooth.
In the evening the hotel’s night club, known as the “Pavillion” there is another bar with nightly entertainment, which can range from a cheeky comedian to an Abba tribute band via an evening of Neil Sedaka’s greatest hits. Buy the hotel’s VIP experience and you get your own designated table for the floorshow with a table lamp that you switch on whenever you want another cocktail.
Even if you just want to relax in your bedroom or walk in the grounds and count the snowdrops, or indeed settle down with a pot of tea and just the day’s papers - Holme Lacy can cater to your every need.