As the broad Cotswold sky floods orange from your vantage point in the hot tub, you clink a glass in congratulations at choosing such a great place to stay. Farncombe Estate is gradually evolving into a destination fit for anyone – and everyone, says Lucy Cleland
Farncombe: Why This Cotswolds Estate Has Something For Everyone
Just two miles outside glorious Broadway in Worcestershire lies four hundred acres of fields and forests that make up the Farncombe Estate. Within its splendid grounds you’ll find such a broad range of accommodation – from treehouses to shepherd’s huts; from the cossetting bedrooms of award-winning hotel Dormy House (don’t miss the spa) to private self-lets with swimming pools, that you’ll be spoilt for choice. We plumped for The Hoot for my birthday shenanigans, a seven-bedroomed former farmer’s house, superbly reconstructed for the plushest of modern-living. With space galore, deep sofas for curling up on, woodburning fires and a private terrace (from which to watch the most stunning sunsets), The Hoot is just one of Farncombe’s three self-lets, the newest of which is eight-bedroom Elsker (which comes with a swimming pool). What makes a stay here particularly thrilling though is that while you feel completely private in your home, just a stroll away you’ll find a buzzing all-day restaurant and bar – for snacks, coffee, home-made pizzas and seriously slap-up suppers, all staffed by some of the most genuinely kind and attentive people I’ve come across recently. Come in muddy boots with wet hounds for tea and cake or glammed up for cocktail hour – no one will bat an eyelid. This is not a place for pretensions, yet it so easily could have fallen into that trap. Bravo for that.
You’re plumly situated in some of the most marvellous Cotswolds countryside, but apart from the obvious walking and pottering around pretty villages (do make a special effort to walk up to Broadway Tower, the second-highest point of the Cotswolds), Farncombe offers a whole host of activities. We loved meeting Connie, an enthusiastic falconer who brought us three of her pride and joys – Billy, the barn owl, a Harris hawk and Louis, a huge Eurasian Eagle owl. There’s also an ‘adventure field’ where kids run amok with games, football posts and general cavorting; or you can try your hand at axe throwing or clay pigeon shooting among other things. For less adrenaline pumped activities, there’s always spa and yoga.
Although we were supposedly self-catering, it was far easier to amble next door to Hook for a laidback candlelit supper with excellent food and wine. George, our Romanian waiter, couldn’t have been more charming, expertly catering to four adults with grownup tastes and four children with, ahem, less than grownup tastes. Just to give you a taste of what’s on offer, Martin Burge’s restaurant excels at seafood, so expect plump juicy mussels with white wine and parsley; or (with a nod to our Ukrainian friends) Cod Kyiv that comes with miso mayonnaise and crispy seaweed fries. All beautifully presented and an unexpected find in the Cotswolds. Under twinkly lights and with sophisticated yet cosy design, the restaurant feels warm and welcoming and has food that packs a punch.
The Final Word
If you’re looking for laidback but spoiling, unpretentious yet stylish, somewhere for romance or rambling, Farncombe Estate has it in spades.
Book The Hoot, from £1,500 per night minimum three nights. Sleeps 15. hillsidehangouts.co.uk