From that initial moment, seeing the crackle and flare of the flames, I immediately felt at home.
That early impression of Lancaster House Hotel was the first of what was to become my ever increasing shift I had towards a relaxed state.
I have to confess I can be something of a 'stress head', often consumed in the worry of the most meaningless things life throws at you.
I don’t unwind enough and even on holidays it often takes a day or three for me to start to chill.
But during this particular stay in Lancaster, just the little things really helped provide some escapism and take away any tension and anxiety.
For example, the comforting and luxury family room we stayed in provided a restful base and included a free-standing bath to enjoy a piping hot, relaxing soak.
The lovely hotel location, with plenty of greenery, was another attraction, along with wiling some time away in the steam room at the Sandpiper Leisure Club.
Simply relaxing as the bubbles spilled over the top of the hot tub – one indoors and one out – also gave ample opportunity to loosen up and uncoil. And, I felt, ultimately, it was while I sat in the The Foodworks Restaurant, with partner Amy and our daughter Eleanor, waiting for our evening meal, that I suddenly thought 'this is the life'.
Not only was the food delicious and the lighting perfect but the tinkling of the ivories from the talented pianist in the corner just left you in a state of calmness.
For our two-day stay at the Deluxe 4-star hotel, we had a large, spacious room with sliding doors dividing the living space from the bedroom and bathroom. There were televisions in both the living area and bedroom.
The bathroom, kitted out with Elemis products for use during the stay, was smart and sophisticated, with a modern shower and aforementioned bath.
On our arrival, there was also a welcome pack for Eleanor, including balloons, stickers, chocolate and a 'passport' which involved activities she could carry out during our stay, with a gift if she succeeded. These activities included bird-spotting, a nature trail and eating from the menu of 'Sam's Club' in the Sandeman Bar.
Mascot Sam, a dog, was one way in which the hotel engaged with young guests. So, as we went to the bar to have a spot of early lunch, Eleanor was able to eat from 'Sam's menu' and enjoyed some bone-shaped sandwiches, filled with chocolate spread.
Meanwhile, I tucked into a tuna, red onion and chive mayonnaise sandwich with a bowl of chips and Amy plumped for a sandwich of smoked salmon, cream cheese and sliced cucumber.
We all agreed these were satisfying lunches in a pleasant surrounding and left the bar, nicely set up for the day.
After enjoying more relaxation in our room and taking a look around the hotel, we headed to the Sandpiper Club for a pre-booked swimming session.
The club offers hotel guests and club members a range of excellent health and fitness facilities.
The 50-foot exercise pool area provided a spacious environment and, as we had booked a time slot, it meant that, while others used the pool and other facilities, it was not overcrowded and was a pleasurable experience.
We were able to enjoy plenty of swimming, lengths or widths of the pool, before popping put to enjoy the hot tub or steam room facilities.
There was also an outdoor hot tub, which we also tried, and this had a pleasant backdrop. The sound of birds chirping while soaking in views over the Lancashire country side made it even more relaxing.
The Health Club's fitness suite is equipped with industry leading cardiovascular Star Trac equipment and a fully equipped weight training area while the Sandpiper Club also includes a Sauna.
The club's team of highly trained professional fitness instructors can guide members and guests through the use of equipment and tailor a programme to specially suit your individual training and fitness goals.
Having enjoyed time in the pool we decided return to our room to plan the remainder of the day.
There are a wide range of attractions nearby, included Lancaster Castle, the Lancaster Maritime Museum, Lancaster Canal, Lancaster Brewery and more.
The beauty of Lancaster House Hotel as a base is that you are not too far away from the stunning Lake District either.
You are well placed in a location which allows you to experience all that the region has to offer.
We headed into Lancaster – the hotel is just a short drive from the centre – and it was certainly worth a visit to the historic city with both independent and well known shops to look at.
Lancaster has a captivating history and we took a stroll to the Castle, with more than 1,000 years of heritage and history to explore.
Back at the hotel, we headed to the high-class Foodworks Restaurant for our evening meal, a very sophisticated but far from snobbish dining experience.
While Amy and I were able to peruse an extensive wine list and exciting and inventive menu, courtesy of head chef Damien Ng, daughter Eleanor was able to choose from a children's menu, again emphasising the hotel's inclusive feel.
For my starter, I plumped for Braised Brisket of Beef with a cauliflower puree, torched cherry tomatoes and tender stem broccoli.
The beef was cooked to perfection and combined with the puree was a delight.
Amy opted for the char-grilled baby courgette and heritage tomatoes, with grilled fig and chive infused oil.
For my main, I chose an 8oz sirloin steak, well done, which was accompanied by a field mushroom, vine tomatoes, onion ring, chunky chips and a pepper sauce while my partner opted for pan-fried Lamb Cannon, with puy lentils and fricassee of vegetables in a minted lamb broth.
Eleanor, meanwhile, enjoyed a 'bits and pieces' starter – a fantastic selection of carrot, celery, cucumber, cheese sticks and tomatoes with garlic and tomato dips.
Eleanor opted for penne pasta with minced beef in a bolognese sauce for her meal but other options included sausage and mash, a roast chicken dinner and beef or veggie burgers.
For our desserts, Amy selected Lancashire Ginger Parkin, with a rich toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream while Eleanor and I shared a selection of deliciously creamy ice creams, opting for Blackcurrant and Clotted Cream, Chunky Belgium Chocolate and Salted Caramel.
The efficient and attentive staff and stunning food helped make this a fantastic dining experience in a classy and elegant environment, including a pianist, playing all the old favourites including 'As time goes by' and 'The way you look tonight'.
It was a thoroughly relaxing evening and the perfect way to end a wonderful day.
The following morning, it was back to the Foodworks Restaurant to enjoy breakfast, with a menu which provided a large array of hot and cold food, including the traditional English breakfast items as well as pastries, fruit and cereal.
Having booked another slot at the Sandpiper Club, there was time for us to head back to the pool and steam room for another before checking out and hitting the road again, fully relaxed and already planning our return, having loved our little taste of Lancashire life.
Lancaster House Facts
Lancaster House, Green Lane, Bailrigg, Lancaster LA1 4GJ
Visit the Lancaster House homepage and the group website for more general information on the resort.
Telephone bookings: 0333 2203 107/ General enquiries: 015394 33338
Rooms and Tariffs: from £110 per room per night, based on 2 adults sharing a twin / double room and inclusive of bed and full English breakfast