by Claire Irvin, The Telegraph, August 5, 2019
If you think of the Cotswolds as being a bit dull, think again. There are bucolic villages, acres of woodland trails and riverside walks – such as the 12-mile Thames Challenge 2019, which includes visiting five pubs, in aid of Help for Heroes in a couple of weeks (Sep 7; [email protected]).
Guests at The Lakes by Yoo (thelakesbyyoo.com) – an estate escape-cum-holiday playground – might ask you what there isn’t to do. Dotted with discreet designer lakeside and woodland rental homes, many of which have rooftop or garden pools, the estate is home to a spa, indoor heated pool, sauna, steam room and gym complete with Matrix equipment and kinesis wall. Think Center Parcs with sex appeal (standard issue Jack Wills notwithstanding). There’s even a concierge service to attend to your every whim.
It’s hardly fit for Kate Moss though, is it?
Funny you should mention that, but actually, yes it is. Not only does Moss live nearby, she has also designed the interiors for the estate’s Barnhouse (sleeps 10, from £1,500 per night, two-night minimum stay).
The decor is as elegantly decadent as you might expect, juxtaposing traditional style with contemporary design and tastefully louche touches throughout: gold lace curtains in the master bathroom, an art deco four-poster bed in the master suite, raw silk carpeting, statement furniture, cutting edge art from Damian Hirst, and Moss’s own collaboration with Jake and Dinos Chapman.
Framed prints of Moss’s rock star mates and snaps from her modelling days adorn the walls, while the dramatic double-height lounge boasts the coolest selection of coffee table books on art, music and fashion’s most beautiful people. But it’s not all grown-up glamour. The outdoor heated pool, sumptuous playroom and acre of private garden with endless opportunities for camps in the silver birch wood will keep the small people happy, too.
The only accessories you’ll need are a dog and a trilby – and while the Barnhouse doesn’t allow the former, there are a selection of the latter on hand for guests who want their weekend wardrobe on tap as well as their designer fun.
Sounds very cool… But what about the great outdoors?
As you’re on the lakes, many of the activities here are water based, such as sailing, canoeing and paddleboarding. The waters are also teeming with trout, pike, perch, carp, tench, roach and bream, and Huntsman Lake has everything you need for a relaxing day of fishing. At the Fishing Hut you can arrange lessons or hire tackle, rods and other equipment.
Then simply head over to the Saturday Hook & Cook Barbecue to share your stories and smoke your catch. For those that love a good barbecue, Lechlade’s local butcher, Cutler and Bayliss, is the place to get your steaks and burgers (cutlerandbayliss.co.uk).
There’s also a zip wire for the adrenalin junkies, bikes to hire, tennis courts, a climbing wall, archery run by Steve – the most dedicated and patient of teachers (from £195 for up to 6 people), clay pigeon shooting (from £400 for up to 4 people), a playground and a whole lot of space to run around in.
If that’s not enough, there’s a dedicated kids’ club and even an event planner for those landmark birthdays.
So you can check in, but you’ll never want to leave?
Maybe. But while dining on beer-battered haddock and triple cooked chips (£15) under a suitably upscale canvas at Elsa’s is the dream, you’d be missing out on some of the Cotswolds’ finest culinary destinations if you didn’t.
Thyme, for example, prides itself on home-grown, homemade and produce-driven menus. This is a hotel and restaurant within a village within a village (rooms from £325 including breakfast; telegraph.co.uk/tt-cotswolds-thyme-hotel). Confused? Wait until you have to decide between two incredible eateries within a minute’s walk of each other. Best off taking a sheep seat in the hotel’s infamous Baa and musing over a Rude Bob garden cocktail (£15).
The Swan at Southrop has the most family-friendly menu (local roast beef from £18, children’s mains from £5), but the contemporary surrounds of the new Ox Barn at Thyme got our vote – and with attentive and flexible staff, the children were just as wowed as the grown-ups (crab, pea, lovage and cucumber salad £11, roast pork, tomato, rocket and sage £29; thyme.co.uk).
And then, of course, there’s Daylesford (daylesford.com)…
I thought Daylesford was a farm…
Well it is – and it’s one of the most sustainable in the UK, since you ask. This is yet another self-contained world of organic joy. And it doesn’t stop at browsing the deli delights and stylish homeware in the upscale farm shop; there are floristry and craft workshops and cookery classes, too.
Linger too long over lunch in the airy conservatory and terrace (grass-pastured beef burger £18, chocolate nemesis with vanilla crème fraîche £8) and with cocktails such as the Daylesford G&E (£9.50) and you might find yourself booking in to one of the Daylesford Cottages (from £1,090 for a weekend in low season; daylesford.com/daylesford-cottages).
Or, of course, you can head back to your woodland idyll and party the night away like the cool kids. After all, when in Kate’s house…