Indagare's Amelia Osborne recently traveled to the Cotswolds and returned raving about the game-changing property that has recently opened there. Soho Farmhouse, from the Soho House group, is already a favorite in the English countryside.
In a bucolic English landscape of grazing sheep, dry-stone walls, fairytale villages and the occasional Roman ruin, the hottest news this year was the introduction of Soho Farmhouse. Locals and weekenders were equally unsure what to make the project as it was being developed--at breakneck speed, completed within a record 15 months. But since the property's opening, reaction has been overwhelming adoration, a not inconsequential feat, given the congenital traditionalism of rural Brits.
The property belongs to the members-only Soho House, which has clubs around the world, largely situated in urban areas like New York's Meatpacking District, Miami's South Beach and Berlin's Mitte neighborhood. With Soho Farmhouse, located in idyllic countryside one and a half hours west of London, it demonstrate that it can do pastoral equally well. Nick Jones, the brand's owner and visionary, seems to have put his all into this project. He was personally responsible for many of the design elements and thoughtful inclusions, such as a lake on the previously waterless property, a pedestrian-only plot patrolled by vintage milk carts offering guests rides, and a store selling the bowls, blankets and rain jackets in the very same inspired design as those provided in the guest rooms.
Unlike the brand's other outposts, which cultivate a hipster vibe, the Soho Farmhouse is decidedly family friendly and seems to be targeting long-time members who have grown up and had kids. The forty one- to three-bedroom farmhouse-chic cabins (some with bunk beds) that dot the 100-acre grounds are all equipped with kitchenettes or full kitchens, comfy lounge areas, board games and picnic supplies. When they book, guests are asked their shoe size and height, so that the seafoam-green Foffa bikes and wellies provided for use during their stay fit them to a T.
But the property is equally perfect as a couple's getaway. Certain cabins are particularly romantic, with fireplaces, outdoor bathtubs, four-poster beds and record players. And some public spaces are "adults-only," including two great lofted lounges above the Main Barn restaurant. The spa, too, is an oasis of calm, with nine treatment rooms, steam, sauna, ice bath and mudrooms, plus a soaking tub for two.
The activities on offer are tailored to grownups and kids (both actual youngsters and the ones lurking inside us all). There are four tennis courts, a football field, a gym and a cycling studio, as well as an indoor/outdoor infinity pool that seems to flow into the lake. Soho Farmhouse is also home to a dozen ponies and horses available for lessons as well as casual trail rides.
Dining options abound, all dishing up spectacularly delicious food whose preparation is overseen by British chef extraordinaire Tom Aikens. The Main Barn serves all day and well into the night. The Boathouse contains an Italian eatery, with a pizza oven, and a deli where guests can find small bites as well as snacks, as well as the marvelous Pickle, Cheese and Charcuterie rooms. Guests inspired to put on an apron by the rich farmland on the property itself and in the surrounding Cotswolds can take cooking classes using vegetables, fruit and herbs from the adjacent kitchen garden.
Although many guests will be very happy to take all their meals at one of the Farmhouse's many eateries, those who wish to venture off-property will find excellent restaurants worth sampling.
The Wild Rabbit pub's recent renovation has replaced all that was dark and dingy with light, open spaces and calming colors, the result resembling a cross between Scandinavian chic and English country comfort. The menu is full of hearty favorites like terrines and roasts. Church Street, Kingham; 44-0-1608-658-389
Daylesford Farmshop & Café
The network of organic farms, shops and cottages that form Lady Carole Bamford's Daylesford empire has its hub in this sleepy village, from which it takes its name. Connoisseurs of gourmet organic food can stock up at the Farmshop or sample the fare at the excellent café and pizza bar before or after perusing the luxe offerings at the housewares store. Daylesford; 44-0-1608-731-700
When the Wheatsheaf Inn opened in the lovely Cotswolds village of Northleach in 2011, it adopted the best traditions of historical coaching inns. Its superb selection of ales, convivial atmosphere and excellent food have made it an instant hit with the cool Cotswolds set, many of whom bring along their dogs when they come for a drink or a bite by the fireplace. West End, Northleach; 44 (0)1509-890-320
Indagare is a membership-based travel company with robust online editorial content, featuring staff-scouted destinations around the world, and a boutique, in-house travel agency. We travel, we write, and we plan memorable journeys for our members. Read more about Indagare.