And it is epic.
Lakes by Yoo is a private woodland retreat near Lechlade, in the Cotswolds. Covering 850 acres of wilderness, forest and lakeside living, it promises to take rural mini-breaking up a notch or ten. I am expecting a posh holiday camp with beautiful, smiling families riding bikes and picnicking in the woods. But what I discover as we venture through the trees, is so much more besides.
As we drive on to the site, weaving our way along the narrow, tree-lined roads, we pass the identikit eco lodges, some designed by Philippe Starck. All boxy, sharp corners and twinkling glass, these are more Scandi modernism than cosy country cottage. No wonder the A-list queued up to land a slice of this action – Jade Jagger and Elle Macpherson also designed houses at Lakes by Yoo. Sale prices start at £810,000 for a four-bed but for the rest of us, two nights’ stay as a luxury, forest-bathing tourist is your best bet to experience all that Lakes by Yoo has to offer.
We are staying in Barnhouse, the flagship property on the estate, tucked away from the other lakeside lodges it emerges from between the trees, double-height windows glinting in the sunlight majestically humble-bragging about what’s inside. This pad has a lot of unapologetic front, and rightly so.
Inside, Barnhouse is Grand Designs-goes-bumper, with added stardust. The interiors have been designed by Kate Moss (casual) – bespoke floral wallpaper, Berber rugs, blue and mustard velvet banquette sofas, gold low-hanging lighting. There are five good-sized double bedrooms, all with en suites and the odd artwork by Damien Hirst or the Chapmans jostling for space on the bedroom walls. The epic staircase provides a gallery of black and white fashion and music photography, with original Terry O’Neills. Look closely and you may also spot some little known paintings by Kate Moss.
The centerpiece is undoubtedly the vast living/ dining/ kitchen/ partying space – polished concrete worktops line the sleek kitchen and an epic dining table could sit a squad of 12. It is a drizzly day when we arrive but the heated outdoor pool, sun deck and next-level Sonos sound system help to conjure up Ibiza vibes. Best for groups of couples on a getaway and, surprisingly, families in search of something a bit special.
We’re here with friends and kids and despite the opulent surroundings and mutterings of ‘Kids, don’t touch ANYTHING’ on a loop, the place is robust and relaxed. There’s an entire cupboard full of toys to keep them entertained in the playroom (I know. We’re staying forever) so we leave them tackling a game of Twister while we flick through the beautiful collection of fashion and photography books, and listen to La Moss’ personally-selected record collection on the Crosley record player: Fleetwood Mac, Patti Smith, Prince and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
When the kids start arguing over the gold-plated noughts and crosses, its time to take a hike in the woods. You can run, cycle, or kayak to your hearts content at Lakes By Yoo, but we opt for the zip wire across the lake because: why not? There’s an onsite petting farm, which consists of a giant hutch of the fluffiest bunnies you ever did see. Over at the main communal building, there’s a gym, spa treatments, tennis courts and an outdoor pop-up pizza restaurant in a tipi.
Later on, we head to the pub for a beer and fish n chips. The Five Alls in nearby village, Filkins, is welcoming and buzzy. We’re not far from Southrop, the pretty village, where Kate Moss and Jamie Hince married in 2011.
Back at Lakes By Yoo, in the interests of balance, I try to cast my critical eye for drawbacks. There’s some building work going on as the site is still under development, but I can’t say its a distraction. There’s a faint feeling of cabin fever when you pass security and roll past row after row of identical box-houses. But honestly? I’m clutching at straws. This place has pretty much everything covered.
Described as the UK’s answer to The Hampton’s, Lakes By Yoo is definitely not your average holiday camp. It taps in to our time-poor hunger for epic experiences, a weekend slice of luxury within a couple of hours’ drive of home, rather than a two-week jaunt to the Caribbean. And its the little touches that sets Barnhouse apart – sweet family photographs of the homeowners, fully stocked cupboards and fridges (none of that self-catering angst about bringing your own ketchup and tin foil) and Ren products in every bathroom, it hits that sweet spot where boutique spa hotel meets getting lucky (extremely lucky) on Air BnB.
Prices for the Barnhouse (5 bedrooms) start from £ 1500 per night (low season). Bookings can be made online at www.thelakesbyyoo.com or on 01367 254260 / firstname.lastname@example.org