There is just something so quintessentially English about the Cotswolds. Just an hour and a half away from London, and you can find yourself immersed in total harmony with nature amidst well-preserved villages, thatched cottages and cobbled stones. It’s home to England’s largest Area of Outstanding Beauty, once the home of Shakespeare and nowadays a long line of the rich and famous.
Luxurious Magazine’s Sabi Phagura went along to the launch of the Glasshouse on The Lakes By Yoo, while staying at The Barn whose interiors have been designed by supermodel Kate Moss.
The Lakes By Yoo is a collection of private properties and rental villas. Whether set in woodland or by water, all the homes combine sustainable contemporary design with country house luxury. They make great getaways, but if you have the bank balance, you can have your home custom built and shaped by your own ideas. And in such fashion, the Glasshouse, surrounded by lakes, trees, sky and nature from every corner, has been built by the owner working with an architect to help materialise his own personal vision.
Bringing the outdoors in doesn’t come better than this dwelling. Every room has two glass walls, each a minimum of six metres across to maximise outdoor views which gives the property a real sense of living outside on the lake. Yet, it cleverly retains privacy by being secluded by trees and lakes all around. The landscape and interior, architecture and nature all work well allowing the exterior of the house to blend with the landscape. The reflections of the trees, lake and sky across the glass facades against the dark wood, metal and bright white walls doesn’t interfere with the most important canvass that is mother nature. There is even a staircase built from a 500-year-old tree from Slovenia.
The ECO credentials of the house are very strong, with exterior wood using the ancient Japanese art of burning timber (Sugi Ban) to provide a stunning long-lasting finish, effective fire resistance as well as a technique that is natural and free from chemical preservatives, paints and retardants. In addition, the energy consumption of the house is very low, provided by using a variety of green technologies including an air thermal heat pump, solar panels, heat recovery systems and triple glazed glass.
And of course, if owning such a property is out of the question, you can always rent a villa for a few days. The Glasshouse will be up for rental in the New Year, but there are plenty more villa rentals to choose from. Built around several large lakes, and secluded by woodland for privacy, the Lakes by Yoo are the brainchild of design collective Yoo Studio, co-founded by Philippe Stark. We stayed at Kate Moss’s five ensuite bedroom (the master room with its silver four-poster bed is super luxury) countryside hideaway. The Barn House offers a haven of tranquillity and is considered to be Yoo’s piece de resistance.
From the outside, the Barn House is simply stunning with its front made entirely of glass. The rest of the building is interspersed with aged wood and blends in neatly with the landscape. Once inside, Kate’s personal touch is apparent from the onset with a healthy dose of rock and glam dotted around the entire house as well as the hallway aligned with black and white photos of the model herself as well as her super glam friends. Whether you wish to stay with a selection of friends or just stay for a romantic getaway with a loved one, the Barn House really is impressive.
The living room was our favourite with its floor-to-ceiling windows, a wood-burning fire surrounded by plush oversized brightly coloured Talisman sofas brings a whole new meaning to being cosy. And just because there is a kitchen, it doesn’t mean you have to cook. The black marble dining table is set for a lavish meal. A call ahead to the concierge and a feast can be arranged whereby a chef will come and cook for you.
As indulgent as that would be, Richard and I settled to dine at Elsa’s, a teepee style-diner set in the apple orchard where we gluttonously chowed on wood-fired pizzas. With the weather on our side, it felt like a mini adventure to eat al-fresco. As expected, so much local produce can be found on the menu including organic cider.
It’s easy to stay holed up in The Barn House with plenty to do (thanks to the patio garden with a pool, a barbeque, loungers, two living rooms and ample board games), but it is worth venturing out to explore the area. There are several activities to get involved in, from walking to cycling to archery and kayaking. There is even a small beach which we found during a long bike ride, a zip line and two tennis courts. A weekend here is simply not enough.
And if indulging is more of your thing, then booking yourselves in for some treatments at the Orchard Spa is a must. Using local Bamford products, the massage therapists can help unwind even the most stressed out of bodies. The luxury facial had me falling asleep in minutes while the full body massage completely relaxed me from head-to-toe. There’s also a heated indoor swimming pool surrounded by glass, as well as a sauna and steam room. I wasn’t quite brave enough to swim in the lake, but if we have a summer like the one we had this year, I will certainly take the plunge. And yes, I’m already planning my next trip to The Lakes by Yoo.
The Lakes by Yoo – Where and How?
Rental villas at The Lakes by Yoo are available for weekly and short weekend and mid-week breaks. For more information, contact 01367 250 066 and ask for the concierge, or visit www.thelakesbyyoo.com.