This week, I was lucky enough to go to Soho Farmhouse with one of my oldest friends Miss. T. Luckier still, we were blessed with sunny weather and warm temperatures that made this country outpost of the Soho House chain even more idyllic than it already is. Set within rolling hills near Chipping Norton, on the outskirts of the village of Great Tew, Soho Farmhouse is about an hour and a half from London and a completely decadent slice of heaven.
From the moment you turn your car into the driveway, your every need is taken care of by the friendly staff. We checked in at the gatehouse, where our car was parked for us, and cleaned!, and were driven to our cabin with a small tour of the grounds by the very helpful Freddie who had quietly moved our bags from my dirty car to his very clean BMW. Upon arriving at our cabin, he took our luggage into our room and showed us all the amenities within it, from the well stocked kitchenette to the high tech TV with yet more information available about the grounds, restaurants and activities available.
Once young Freddie had settled us in, Miss T set about making use of the bread and cheese given to all guests upon arrival by laying it out on one of the tables on our balcony, whilst also making me a much needed cuppa. Whilst we munched away on the fresh carb deliciousness, we discussed what we wanted to do over the next 24 hours of our stay. We had dinner booked in the Main Barn that evening at 19.30, giving us the rest of the afternoon to make use of the weather. We saw that we only really had one sensible option open to us - put our bikinis on and lie by the outdoor pool. Not a sentence I ever thought I'd say in mid March in the UK. So as soon as the cheese was finished, we headed to the boathouse, which also houses a gym as well as a yoga and a spin studio. We went via the Main Barn, simply to have a nosey, where the courtyard was busy with people eating their lunch outside whilst playing pool, boules or table football. I've no pictures of the main barn area as Soho House asks that as a members club, the member areas remain private to those paying to use the facility. There are also three shops - one deli selling the yummiest food, one selling the Soho range of home decor, and one called the Store selling high end fashion and other indulgent gifts.
Sitting by the pool, chewing the cud with one of my oldest and dearest friends, was a marvellous way to spend the afternoon. Once I had got over the fact that I was lying outside in the UK in March in my new swimming costume, I really relaxed - as is the way at the farmhouse. I was even able to forget that I felt a little bit more than self conscious at 7 months pregnant wearing a tangerine tankini two piece. Miss T was looking chic as ever in her new Boden number purchased in the shop just moments before. Whilst lying down, enjoying the clear blue skies and beautiful vista of the countryside with the heated pool just in front of me, we had some delicious coffee and tasty smoothies from the Pen Yen restaurant that sits on the water's edge too. After a swim, we changed in the well kitted out changing rooms where the after school crowd members were just coming in to make use of the weather with their little ones.
Back in our room, we focussed on what we felt the hotel wanted us to do, and relax. We had a cuppa on the balcony, followed by a nap and shower (which was divine) whilst waiting for the cocktail milk cart to stop in on is at our requested time of 18.30. A delightful young chap knocked on the door right on cue and offered us any drink that we could think of. Whilst only mocktails were available to me, Miss T had my old favourite - a dark and stormy. We drank our respective beverages whilst dressing for dinner delighted with this quirky form of room service (which also was relatively good value given the luxury nature of the resort).
For dinner, we both dined well on fish and whilst the wine list didn't take as much of a battering as it may have done in the past, I could see that it had a large choice to suit all budgets. The food we had was also delicious from a menu of English classics as well as pub favourites of burgers and pizzas. The Main Barn restaurant itself is also a stunning space that really helps create a relaxed atmosphere, however on one of its mezzanine levels it has the Fancy Farm restaurant that provides fine dining with all its silver service accoutrements.
After all the excitement of the day, the 7 months pregnant lady in me was not up to too much more after our supper, so we headed back to our cabin to hunker down in its cosy elegance. However, we could have gone to the screening of the film Hidden Figures amongst other options available to guests. Miss T was happy with the get into the ludicrously soft dressing gown and lie on the massive bed option like me.
The follow morning, yet another milk cart arrived. This time with our breakfast which was made fresh and to order right outside our front door. It felt like one of those ludicrously indulgent moments of my life, sitting in my dressing gown, a foot from my bed, having my breakfast served to me by a young chap who would have made me anything I wanted (bar poached eggs which he cannot make on his portable kitchen for health and safety reasons). My bacon and avo sandwich was not only delicious but huge and I struggled to get through it. Miss T was the same with scrambled eggs and smashed avocado on toast.
After our slovenly breakfast, we showered and dressed slowly, making use of yet more yummy Cowshed products. We planned to walk off our huge trough so meandered around the farm itself, looking at all the horses (available for riding if you so choose). You can walk from the resort to the village of Great Tew in about half an hour which has a great pub at the end of it to reward you. Miss T and I simply wandered to the comfy barn mezzanine for a coffee before we headed back to the Gatehouse to collect the (cleaned) car and check out.
My trip to Soho Farmhouse was therefore not only a success but a real treat. It is so indulgent but somehow never appears to be overly lavish for opulence sake. It's clearly a five star resort though with an emphasis on taking care of its members and guests' every need without being sycophantic or over the top. I hope to return very soon.