Top 10, Travel

Top 10 Luxury Country Escapes in the UK


A friend recently asked me for advice on where to go for a romantic, country weekend away with her husband (after multiple children, a house move and a job change, she really needed a break). So, I decided to pick top 10 luxury country escapes in the UK, including some that are child-friendly.

  1. Cliveden House: Bought by a property billionaire whose wife wrote the book ‘Mistresses of Cliveden,’ it is a historical stalwart in the country UK hotels.
  2. Limewood: One of the best luxury country hotels there is, it is often fully booked months in advance.
  3. Soho Farmhouse: As fabulous as it is fake, Soho Farmhouse attracts London media types who pretend to be in the country, wearing their Barbour jackets and Gucci wellies.
  4. Gleneagles: Recently bought and renovated by the hoteliers behind the hip Hoxton hotels, it is becoming hip and trendy among the London set.
  5. Chewton Glen Tree houses: The tree houses are worth going for on their own. It is a beautiful country hotel equally pleasing for children and adults.
  6. Coworth Park: Part of the Dorchester collection, it is a Grande-Dame type of hotel, luxurious and with impeccable service, you can’t fault it.
  7. Manoir aux Quatres Saisons: For foodies, this one checks all the boxes: two star Michelin restaurant, luxury hotel and beautiful grounds. Perfect for a special occasion.
  8. The Pig: Little sisters to Limewood, these are boutique hotels with a lesser price tag than Limewood. The Pig on the Beach and the Pig at Combe, both look charming and cosy.
  9. Four Seasons Hampshire: Firstly, be forewarned. This is NOT a hotel for singles or romantics, it is best suited for families and young children, who can be found running around at all times. But for practicality, ease and reliability, the Four Seasons will deliver and staff will go out of their way to look after your kids.
  10. Lakes By Yoo: A slightly more modern approach to country living, you can rent these beautifully designed houses right on a lake. Worth a look.


Reviews, Social Commentary, Travel, Uncategorized

Review: Soho Farmhouse


Courtyard at Soho Farmhouse. NHYM 2017. 

‘Celebrity rural retreat Soho Farmhouse is unrealistic, silly, utterly  contrived – and absolutely fabulous.’ – The Mirror 

It’s been a while since I’ve wanted to check out Soho Farmhouse – I’d heard how uh-mazing it was about a million times – but a few things had been in the way of me and the milk float that takes you around to rural bliss. But this past half-term, the perfect opportunity came up for me to check into one of their ab-fab cabins and I took the chance before I could say, ‘Old-Nick-Jones-Had-a-Farm’.


Cabins on the river. NHYM 2017.

As soon as you arrive to Soho Farmhouse, you are whisked off in a 1950s milk float to the cabins, which are interspersed along a ‘river’ (stream) that intersects the main grounds.


Our cabin No.1 had a great, central location. The standalone cottage is seen behind. NHYM. 

But let’s get one thing straight. This is not ‘real’ country. This is for city folk pretending to be country folk. Just like me. Each cabin is equipped with bicycles which are the official mode of transport around the grounds. But if that’s not your thing, don’t worry, BMWs are available to pick you and drop you off at your leisure, so you never feel completely out of your comfort zone.


Inside the cabins. NHYM 2017.

The cabins were my favourite part of the whole Farmhouse ‘experience.’ As someone wrote, it’s less ‘Little House on The Prairie’ and more ‘Little House on La Prairie.’ They are cosy, comfortable and warm and you could really just spend your whole weekend watching movies, taking baths and playing old records without ever having to leave. (There was an old record player that our ‘Farmhand’ didn’t know how to use, his excuse: ‘this was before my time’. I had to laugh)


Kitchen in the Cabin. NHYM 2017. 

There is a kitchen for those who want to pretend they want to cook, but really, the restaurants will very happily fill you up without having to raise your little finger. The facilities at Farmhouse are great too, including the indoor-outdoor swimming pool that must be amazing in the summer, the Asian restaurant next to it and the heaven-on-earth-for-a-4-year-old kid’s club, which unfortunately is only for members. There are chickens, pony rides and zip lines that would put any 4 year old in hysterics. There is even a horse-and-carriage that will take you around the grounds, crazy golf and pigs rolling around in the mud.


Outdoor tents. NHYM 2017. 

There are also new tents that have been erected for those who want more of a ‘be-at-one-with-nature’ experience but people we ran into who spent the night there came out freezing and in their bathrobes: there are no toilets or bathrooms in the outback. Which leads me to the fact that within 24 hours we ran into 5 people we knew: work people, school people, neighbours and even distant relatives! This is not where you go to have a quiet, relaxing weekend. This is where Central London convenes and puts on a Barbour jacket and Gucci wellies instead of owning a country pile to inhale the fresh air.


Inside the tents. NHYM 2017. 

It’s so popular with Londoners that David Beckham is building a farm literally next to Farmhouse, that’s how much he loves it, but doesn’t want to slum it in one of the cabins.


Inside the Barn. Courtesy of the Internet. 2017.

Soho Farmhouse is a Disneyland for adults, a Butlins for Toffs, a Center Parcs on luxury steroids. It is equally fabulous as it is fake, but it is a whole lot of fun. It is ‘the’ place to throw a birthday party, and it is a dream place for kids too – my daughter cried when we had to leave…

But, one of the main downsides is that non-members are no longer allowed to stay at the weekends, and there is a slight ‘members’ vs ‘non-members’ taste that irritated me when they told me the kids couldn’t go to the kids club. Very smugly irritating. Especially when Ron Burkle, a complete suit, owns pretty much 60% of it…. So despite how wonderful it is, I probably won’t be staying again any time soon – but I’ll just have to find someone to throw a fab fortieth to get into that milk float again.




Social Commentary, Uncategorized

‘The Country vs. The City’


Daylesford Organic Farm, Cotswolds, 2016. All Photos Copyright NHYM 2016.

The Cotswolds are like the new Hamptons’ – quote by Lakes by yoo owner John Hitchcox Feb 2016

The countryside is now firmly the cool, hip thing to do as evidenced by the recent opening of The Farmhouse (Soho Farmhouse in case you have been living in the middle ages for the past year), Kate Moss’ wedding (now ex-wedding), and all its other celebrity-followers – from Jade Jagger, Eddie Redmayne to Mark Ronson. Friends who attended the Farmhouse’s New Year’s party said it was ‘ridiculously cool’ and insane. And no, I am nowhere near cool enough to get an invite, otherwise you would have heard about it.


Cold Country Roads. NHYM 2016.

It must be something to do with my age, but lately, I have been surrounded by the ‘City vs. Country’ debate, although never really as a participant but rather an observer. You see, I love the country in a ‘I-love-the-country-it’s-so-beautiful-from-afar’ kind of way. The problem with me and the country is that I am always cold in the country-side. When people dream of having their dream ‘country home/mansion,’ I dream of being anywhere warm. It must be my Mediterranean blood or something, but whenever I end up in the country, a) it’s raining b) the heating in the stone mansion house has broken down c) I end up getting lost on a country walk with mud up to my knees. It must be my bad luck.


Mud up to my knees. NHYM 2016.

Going back to the ‘City vs Country’ debate, more and more people I encounter these days have houses in the ‘country’ from Wiltshire, to Oxfordshire, to Herefordshire, via Gloucestershire. The Sunday Times Style Magazine last Sunday had an article entitled ‘How Cool Is Your County?’ (Clearly, Oxfordshire and the Farmhouse win hands down). Even in my little neighbourhood, my neighbours on the right, behind and across from us all have country houses. I have noticed one wonderful benefit about going to the country on the weekend is the fact that they don’t have to make any weekend plans; no need to book restaurants months in advance to get a reservation, no need to figure out what to do with young children/toddlers on the weekend. Perhaps I will revisit my country opinions. Instead, they are off Friday evening with an instant schedule of country walks, pub lunches, and muddy boots, and only return on Sunday night.


Rolling hills of Oxfordshire. NHYM 2016.

Then there are those that decide to make the final move and decamp their whole families to the country. There are the commuters who stay in the city during the week in a pied-a-terre, and return to country for the weekends. From what I hear, this is not really ideal as husbands quickly take up a mistress and start their double lives. For those who go as a couple/family, they end up very bored and the rumours are true: they end a) on drugs b) alcoholics c) in swingers clubs because there is nothing to do in the country. Some of these latter quickly run back to the city after a year of country-trials.


Daylesford Organic Brunch reminds me of London. NHYM 2016.

So, when I went to the ‘country’ for a party the other weekend, I was pleasantly surprised that a) it didn’t rain b) there was heating in the house c) it wasn’t really very different from London: I ended up spending the day at Daylesford for brunch and a spa treatment. Quite blissful indeed, even if I saw half of London there. That night, I mingled with Londoners who were drinking like it was 1999 and overheard a few wife-and-husband-swapping-propositions. What I learned is that the country isn’t that different than London, just more stones than bricks, grass than cement and more sheep than cats.


Stone country house in the Cotswolds. NHYM 2016.

There are plentiful of options if you decide not to buy/share a country house but want to try it out, from old stone houses found on Rural Retreats  to futuristic, eco, glass houses at Lakes by yoo Have a look, you may just be tempted too.