Travel Spotlight

First Look: Soho Farmhouse

In a bucolic land of grazing sheep, miles of dry-stone walls, fairytale-style villages and the occasional Roman ruin, the hottest news this year, surprisingly, was the introduction of a Soho House property. Locals and weekenders alike didn't know what to think about the newcomer as the development was coming up (at a breakneck speed; the entire property was built in a record 15 months) but the initial reaction has been overwhelming adoration—not an inconsequential feat for the famously staid, upper class Brits.

The members-only club, which is famous for its outposts in New York's Meatpacking District, Miami's South Beach and Berlin's Mitte neighborhood, can do countryside, too. It turns out, the Cotswolds, an idyllic place one-and-a-half hours west of London by car, needed a property like the Soho House.

In a dramatic departure from its hipster nightclub reputation prevalent in other outposts, the Soho Farmhouse is decidedly family friendly, and seems to be marketing itself to its long-time members who have since grown up and had kids. The 40 farmhouse-chic cabins dotted around 100 acres range in size from one- to three-bedrooms (some with bunk beds) and feature kitchenettes or full kitchens, comfy lounging areas, board games and picnic supplies. Upon booking a cabin, guests' shoe sizes and heights are asked, so that their rooms can be equipped with seafoam-green Foffa bikes and wellies for use during their stay.

But the property is equally perfect for a couple's getaway, as certain cabins are particularly romantic, with fireplaces, outdoor bathtubs, a four-poster bed and record players. Certain areas in the public spaces are deemed "adults-only," including two great lofted lounges set above the Main Barn's restaurant. The spa, too, is an oasis, featuring nine treatment rooms, steam, sauna, ice bath and mudrooms, plus a soaking tub for two.

Nick Jones, the owner and visionary behind the brand, seems to have put his everything into this project, and was personally responsible for many of the design elements and thoughtful inclusions. There was no water on the property, so a lake was put in, the pedestrian-only plot is sprawling, so vintage milk carts patrol the lanes offering rides to guests and the design is so inspired that there is a store selling the very same bowls, blankets and rain jackets provided in guest rooms.

Dining options abound, and are all spectacularly delicious, being overseen by British chef extraordinaire, Tom Aikens. There is the Main Barn, which serves food all day (and well into the night), the more intimate Boathouse, which boasts a pizza oven, and a deli, where guests can find small bites as well as snacks. The Pickle, Cheese and Charcuterie rooms are here, too, and are marvels. The Cotswolds in general, and Soho Farmhouse in particular, will inspire you to tie on an apron, and they have built a specialty space for cooking classes, which utilize vegetables, fruit and herbs from the adjacent kitchen garden.

There are four tennis courts, a football field, gym and cycling studio, as well as an indoor/outdoor infinity pool that seemingly flows into the lake. Soho Farmhouse is also home to a dozen ponies and horses, and offers lessons as well as casual trail rides. So while the place is geared towards the more grown-up Soho House members, it nevertheless maintains an offering of amenities and activities that will suit actual children as well as the kids inside us all.

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