Travel E.A.T.S - Soho Farmhouse (EJ)
E > EATS
The farmhouse is completely sustainable and this oozes through the environment and culture of the grounds. Several of the core ingredients are reared or grown on the farm. The Main Barn is the farm's central culinary hub which also includes two mezzanines. The menu is accessible fresh and seasonal with the Pigs in Blankets and Flat Iron Chicken the pick of the main menu. The area reinvents itself throughout the day from its impressive open kitchen. Breakfast is served here from 7am and includes an impressive continental buffet selection. Later in the afternoon a tea table emerges with guests able to help themselves to homemade cakes and scones all. A dangerous prospect for the waistline.
Fancy farm is located on one mezzanine overlooking the activity below, achieving a more intimate and private atmosphere. Expect a small modern 3 course British Menu and extensive wine list. Comfy Farm sits on the other mezzanine which includes a fire place, contemporary art pieces and larger sofas, both of which provide an intimate cosy atmosphere and they are also both child free. The Haybarn is also open at the weekends and serves up rustic Sunday feast style Roasts.
The jewel in the crown is the Asian-influenced Pen Yen which is situated in the boathouse. The restaurant embodies a bright airy atmosphere with views overlooking the lake. The menu features sashimi, salads, agemono, tempura and traditional Japanese robata grill dishes such as sea bass with sancho pepper and beef fillet with radish and spring onion ponzu. The boathouse also cleverly doubles up as a workspace in the day, often being used as a secondary office by its members. As well as laptops-a-plenty it includes a health conscious, counter-cafe style service.
A > ACTIVITY
Give up the car on arrival at the gatehouse and be leisurely escorted to your cabin in an old electric refurbished pastel blue milk float. They are a staple of the farm and are used for everything from maintenance and taxis, to room service deliveries to your cabin. The farm is always awash with activity and this can be as strenuous or relaxing as you wish. If you are also lucky to get the weather when you arrive there is an abundance of outdoor goings-on. Contact one of the helpful team pre-or post-arrival to arrange shooting, boules, table tennis and even flying your own plane over the Cotswolds countryside. Yet, simplicity is the key and bike riding around the different points of interest is the most popular past time and another fabric of the farms culture.
The rest of the facilities are whimsical including the luxurious Electric Barn Cinema. Next to this is a cookery school which is located next to the seasonal ingredients garden and a small but attractive lake were you can leisurely row across to the boathouse and the outdoor pool. A well-equipped no expenses spared gym and fitness suite is also nearby, with busy classes starting at 5.30am. There is a fully-equipped Cowshed Spa and outdoor Jacuzzi and even a 5-a-side football pitch, unfortunately my 16-week pregnant wife didn't fancy the latter.
T > TIPPLE
The main bar is an attractive island bar and the central piece in the Main Barn. Sample a twist on a classic, the Soho Negroni for a well-balanced aperitivo or if the sun is shining over the ranch take a Watermelon Daisy out in the central courtyard. The atmosphere inside stays vibrant but has an intimate air, accommodating large groups of friends and families relaxing across the barn.
Modelled as a country pub The Mill Room Pub serves local beers, ales and cider as well as holding a strong selection of high end spirits. However, I’m assured the party gets a little wilder in in the later hours Bands and Djs regularly play and they serve well into the night until the last people leave.
One thing certainly stands when it comes to the wow factor. Calling out the milk float to your cabin and having your cocktail mixed in front of you in your cabin is a customer service experience like no other.
S > STAY
The 40 cabins offer rustic interiors, fantastic views, untreated original walls and floorboards, woodburning stoves and well-stocked kitchens for the selfcaterer. They range in size and impressively include a 4 and a 7-bedroom cottage.
The Bell tents are available if you want to be at one with the elements or like the ‘glamping feel’. Each tent comes with a six-foot bed, a wood burning stove, rugs and a pair of armchairs. Bathroom, shower and sauna facilities are in the Boathouse, less than 100 metres away. There’s also an outdoor living area, with tea, coffee, a hot water bottle station and hay bales around a fire pit, perfect for toasting marshmallows.
Some will be lucky enough to afford membership, which allows access all year round. Otherwise, guests must settle for midweek or quieter times on request. Undoubtedly, the Soho Farmhouse is a treat that everyone could get used to.