Blame it on the popularity of Clarkson’s Farm, a determination to get children muddy-booted rather than goggle-eyed or just the gentle, age-old yearning for the good life. Whatever the reason, farm stays are on the up.
The not-for-profit, farmer-owned accommodation consortium Farm Stay UK reports a spike in people booking farm holidays this year. Many of those stays will be at traditional farm cottages and B&Bs where families can embrace free-range pleasures such as feeding lambs, plucking just-laid eggs from henhouses and rolling up trousers to dip toes into chilly streams. Not all, though. Over the past few years a very different sort of farm holiday has gained traction — a posher, modern British take on agriturismo.
Italy’s long tradition of farm-based hospitality may not differ much from its British counterpart on paper but it feels a world apart on the ground, with sunnier weather, a long-held reverence for plot-to-plate eating and vine-to-table wines. Swimming pools also add a leisurely glamour to the average rustic retreat.
The UK’s new wave of farm stays are latching on to this sense of indulgence, cleverly adapting it to suit British tastes and climes. These posher farm stays come with fine dining using local produce, considered decor and activities that put the wellness of both guests and soil centre stage. Here are ten places reimagining the UK farm stay.
1. Warborne Farm, Hampshire
Just outside Lymington, in the New Forest, the five self-catering properties at this 100-acre mixed family farm have been creatively converted from historic farm buildings. They may have Smeg fridges, luxury linens and (in some cases) underfloor heating but they also make stylish use of corrugated iron salvaged, and sheepskins shorn, on the farm. For ultimate atmosphere book the Grain Loft, a three-bedroom apartment with a glass window in the floor for viewing newly hatched chicks and lambs in the nursery stable below and one bedroom arranged as a dorm, with cosy hay mattresses in each partition.
Details Four nights’ self-catering for eight from £550 (warbornefarm.co.uk)
The family-friendly cottages at Wraxall Yard cater to those with disabilities
2. Wraxall Yard, Dorset
If the editor of Kinfolk magazine sketched out a vision of the perfect farm it might look like Wraxall Yard. It’s within the Dorset area of outstanding natural beauty, and pale colour schemes and pared-back furniture from the fashionable Another Country brand line old farm buildings serenely reimagined by Clementine Blakemore Architects. There’s deep substance behind the clean, light-soaked style. The five family-friendly cottages cater to those with disabilities, and guests are encouraged to try a range of farming and wildlife activities. There’s also a community space for yoga classes, art courses and workshops.
Details Three nights’ self-catering for four from £502 (wraxallyard.co.uk)
Trelan Farm has converted timber-clad trailers and shipping containers
3. Trelan Farm, Flintshire
This 150-acre cow and sheep farm, in the foothills of the Clwydian Range, has been in the same family for more than 70 years. Third-generation farmers Wynne and Catherine may be proud of that heritage but they are not stuck in the past. In 2019 they diversified into glamping, launching the Cargo Cabin, a converted shipping container with outdoor bath. Since then they’ve added two more retreats — the Wonder Wagon is a timber-clad trailer salvaged from the local steelworks and kitted out with sustainable West Elm furnishings, while hobbit hole-shaped Luna’s Lookout has a Japanese soaking tub.
Details One night’s self-catering for two from £120 (trelanfarm.co.uk)
Cabins have exposed timber and wood-burners
4. Guardswell Farm, Perthshire
This sheep and goat farm between Dundee and Perth offers a wealth of activities to guests staying in one of its three houses — hung with vintage maps, with huge picture windows — or three contemporary cabins kitted out with exposed timber and wood-burners. The farm’s converted steading hosts events such as long-table feasts, yoga classes and low-waste food markets while the farmland and market garden are brought into service as spaces for children’s day camps, wilderness fitness retreats and mindful gardening workshops. Guests can buy meat and veggies straight from the farm as well as low-intervention cider and, soon, Guardswell Blend yarn.
Details One night’s self-catering for two from £120 (guardswell.co.uk)
There are nine bedrooms at Coombeshead Farm in Cornwall
5. Coombeshead Farm, Cornwall
Food-focused Coombeshead Farm opened in 2016 as a high-end agriturismo, serving dinner to just ten staying guests each evening. Since then a larger field-to-fork restaurant, bakery and shop have opened, pigs, cows and sheep have been introduced, a kitchen garden has been built, the accommodation has been extended to nine guest bedrooms (plus one self-catering cottage), orchards have been planted and beehives and poultry complete the bucolic picture. The restaurant offers relaxed dining at reasonable prices, and those who want to take the gourmet escapism a step further can sign up for in-house butchery and bread-making workshops.
Details One night’s B&B for two from £150 (coombesheadfarm.co.uk)
There’s plenty of wildlife to spot at the Bantham Houses on Boyd Farm
6. The Bantam Houses at Boyd Farm, Gloucestershire
Early proponent of the field-to-four-poster philosophy, Farm Stay UK has a huge choice of farm-based accommodation in all corners of the nation. It’s a reliable way to track down the kind of kitchen table hospitality that makes a welly-booted, egg-hunting family holiday so memorable. But it also has more modern farm stay experiences within its listings including the Bantam Houses at Boyd Farm, near Cheltenham. Two slick black cabins have been built overlooking a conservation orchard on a farm hailed by Springwatch’s Iolo Williams as a prime wildlife destination (farm tours can be arranged).
Details Two night’s self-catering for four from £637 (farmstay.co.uk)
The Collective at Woolsery was launched by the founders of Bebo
7. The Collective at Woolsery, North Devon
A countrycore spin on the model villages founded by the Industrial Revolution’s philanthropic entrepreneurs, the Collective started when the founders of social networking site Bebo, Michael and Xochi Birch, stepped in to buy the ailing Farmers Arms in Woolsery in 2015. Soon they took on the village shop (built by Michael’s great-grandparents). Then the fish and chip shop, the manor house (being transformed into a hotel) and a 150-acre farm that’s now a thriving home to rare-breed animals, organic crops, an orchard and an “edible forest” to provide food for the Collective’s kitchens. From June, visitors will be able to stay overnight; the Collective is launching guest suites in the village.
Details One night’s self-catering for eight from £750 (woolsery.com)
A wooden hot tub at Valley Cabin
8. Valley Cabin, East Sussex
Whitewashed tongue-and-groove walls, a wooden hot tub and bold black exterior paintwork hint that this restful one-bedroom cabin outside Battle isn’t your average farm hideaway. Restored using upcycled materials from the surrounding 24-acre working farm, its hillside setting promises great views and there are walks from the door. There are organic toiletries in the bathroom, picnic and barbecue packs can be ordered from the farm shop and café along the track and there’s a hand-built pagoda for enjoying mindful outdoor moments whatever the weather.
Details Two nights’ self-catering for two from £350 (kiphideaways.com)
Guests can enjoy lots of activities on the lake at Upper Shadymoor
9. Upper Shadymoor, Shropshire
So pioneering was Featherdown Farms’ recipe for bells and whistles farm camping that the company claims it was a journalist staying at one of its sites who first coined the phrase “glamping”. It celerbates its 20th anniversary this year, and the FD formula is still going strong – familiarity being just what its fans appreciate. While each of the company’s canvas hideaways is the same, the farms they’re located on all offer something different, whether that’s petting lambs, horse riding, farm-cooked meals or — at Upper Shadymoor, near Shrewsbury — a range of water-based wellness activities, from lake swimming, paddleboarding and water-trampolining to wallowing in a waterside hot tub.
Details Two nights’ self-catering for six from £385 (featherdown.co.uk)
The Farmhouse is set among ancient woodland
10. The Farmhouse, North Yorkshire
One for those who prefer their slice of farm life to come softened with spa gowns and coffee machines, this 100-acre estate and farm in the North York Moors National Park is home to Dexter cattle, teddy bear-like Ryeland sheep and two swish holiday cottages, the Bull Pen and the Potting Shed. Each sleeps just two and has a private outdoor space, offering beautiful views of ancient woodland and wildlife ponds by day and the opportunity to stargaze by night in this area, which is designated a “dark sky reserve”.
Details Three nights’ self-catering for two from £600 (thefarmhouseyorkshire.co.uk)
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published 2023-04-30 05:10:01