It’s been over a decade since Country & Town House’s Online Content Director Rebecca Cox last checked into Babington House for a taste of country living and spa indulgence. So what’s new at Soho House’s oldest country property?
25 Years Of Babington House
A summer’s afternoon at Babington House, 4.15pm: I am in the library having a cup of tea and answering some emails. In the lobby outside I can hear returning guests checking in, and being greeted like old friends by the staff. A ‘chic and casual gathering of friends’, this is the whole vibe at Soho House’s first country property, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
It is also the vibe in the kitchen garden, but here the old friends are not guests, but the fruit, veg, herbs and edible flowers, which are being treated lovingly by head chef Dionas Frank as he shows us around. There is a feel of Willy Wonka’s factory to the walled garden beds, as he insists that ‘everything is edible, everything, try it!’ and we reluctantly pull leaves and berries, flowers and pods, finding that each one is, as promised, perfectly palatable.
But really, it’s no surprise that the kitchen garden is well-established and thriving: after all, Soho House doesn’t follow trends, it sets them. Babington was one of the first country outposts to serve garden-to-table style meals for its guests. It makes sense, then, that it is celebrating its quarter century with a series of special meals and events, one of which we’re in town (sorry, country) for, a one-night-only supper club with guest chef Ana Ortiz, from the Galápagos, Ecuador.
Menus for not only this, but all meals at Babington are kept simple, with ingredients rather than complicated cooking taking centre-stage. Sustainability comes naturally when you’re sourcing everything from within a 25-mile radius. A fresh, seasonal menu that changes to reflect what’s good in the local area might be how the hip new eco-hotels are running things, but it’s been the go-to method at Babington for as long as the doors have been open.
Our meal, cooked by Ana with the help of head chef Dionas Is stupendous. The rain drives down around us in the walled garden but we are protected by a canopy, as are the live band, serenading us from in front of a smoking fire pit. Food is served sharing-style, the spirit of Soho House brought to life; a club bringing its members together to share stories and ideas over good food and drinks in spectacular settings.
Speaking of which, the rooms at Babington are something special, and still have the wow-factor they did upon opening in 1998. Babington was the first to put a bath in a bedroom (practically a country-house hotel essential 25 years on), room number five featuring the tub in question at the foot of the bed facing out over the croquet lawn. Today, the House features 33 bedrooms, which are spread across the main House and outbuildings plus lodges and cabins, each charming, spacious and equipped with modern luxuries in an elevated country setting.
Since a Soho House party never stops, birthday plans will run throughout the year at the House, with a wellness retreat, more supper club plans and a (show-stoppingly spectacular) botanical facial exclusive all still to come at Babington this year.
For booking and membership enquiries visit sohohouse.com/houses/babington-house.