Well, thanks to my generous and thoughtful husband, that wish was ticked off last year when he gave me an overnight stay as a birthday present. Knowing we were going to the UK to visit family in July, it was perfect timing. Babington House was everything I could have imagined and more. Here’s a bit of eye candy and inspiration from our stay.
The property dates back to the early 1500s but the main building was built in 1705 for Henry Mompesson, Sheriff of Somerset. It is mostly Georgian property is Grade 2 listed. The stunning 18 acres of gardens, rollings lawns and are set amongst a pretty rural landscape in Somerset. You feel like you have stepped back in time to a Jane Austen novel when you drive in. The new design of the hotel is relaxed country comfort, a clever mix of low-key elegance with a contemporary take on the quintessential English country house.
The images above shows the main house which has the living and dining rooms, bar and reception on the ground floor. The first floor has a number of bedrooms, although there are several other buildings on the property which also feature accommodation.
The room above is the Orangery, a restaurant for hotel guest where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served.
Babington House is part of the Soho House group of hotels which was founded in London in 1995 by Nick Jones, as a home from home for people working in creative fields. There are now Houses located in the UK, Berlin, New York, West Hollywood, Miami, Chicago, Toronto and Istanbul. All the properties in the group are private hotels and for use by members and their guests, or house guests only. Each house is entirely different, relevant and true to its surroundings, history and identity, every detail in tune with the spirit of the house.
According to the spiel on their website, unlike other club concepts, which often focus on wealth and status, Soho House aims to assemble communities of members that have something in common: namely, a creative soul. The majority of our members work in traditional creative industries, with the film, fashion, advertising, music, art and media sectors heavily represented.
Membership to Babington House gives you access to all club spaces and facilities: bars and restaurants, Cowshed Spa, the screening room, swimming pool and the event programming calendar for members. There are a number of types of membership whether you want to have access to your own local Soho House property or use them all over the world.
This is the reception on the ground floor of the main house. Each room has its own personality, comfort is always a factor as is practicality. There’s always a statement or conversation piece, whether it be a piece of furniture, a painting or fabulous light. Everything is sourced from around the globe by a team of designers and decorators headed by Vicky Charles, whether it be reclaimed timber flooring or vintage tiles, old church pews, antique lamps, recycled bricks, repurposed furniture, estate artwork, old rugs, painted panels, a bar from a super yacht, lights from an old factory etc. The group is known as much for its interior decor as its hospitality.
The facilities include an indoor and outdoor pool, gym, spa and sauna, tennis courts, cricket pitch, lake, walled garden, screening room, boutique and kids’ club. The hotel was full when we were there midweek, a great buzz and atmosphere as the majority of the clientele are 20s-40s.
The library which has big, comfy sofas, a TV and books, and a fireplace for guests to use at their leisure. The interior colour scheme features lots of muted, soft colours for the paints, fabrics, furnishings and artwork. It all blends beautifully with the surrounding countryside and is the perfect palette for the house. Lots of greys, greens, buttermilk creams and sage, although there is one blue and white suite.
The kitchen is open and set as part of the deli bar, where food is cooked and prepared where guests can watch the action. The group of famous for its food and restaurant vibe and although each hotel has a different personality and style, the most famous and popular signature dishes feature around the world on all the menus.
Our bedroom was on the first floor of the main building overlooking the rolling lawns and historic church. It was large and spacious with a beautiful ensuite. How fabulous is the bed. All the mattresses are hand-made and custom designed to their specifications, with a layer of cashmere and angora wool on either side to give a deep luxurious feel. It was rather like sinking into a cloud. The duvets are all TOG 4.5 with a mix of 80% goosedown and 20% feather. The sheets are 100% percale cotton, the pillows are all goosedown and they use usually 7 per bed of different sizes and fabrics.
The soft furnishings are all of textural linens, velvets, wool, cotton and hemp, providing texture and warmth. There are plenty of comfy chairs, sofas, cushions and beds to get cosy on. Expansive sisal rugs feature everywhere.
I loved all the details and thoughts such as the fresh flowers, tea and coffee tray, lemons for your G&T. There was a stereo with music playing when we entered which just set a really relaxed vibe. The butler will come and prepare cocktails or an aperitif whenever requested.
An abundant supply of luxurious toiletries and amenities to use. No tiny stingy little bottles of body lotion here! Everything you could think of to need in a bathroom was supplied for free, including hair straightener, hair dryer, Cowshed toiletries etc.
The fireplace was set every day for use. I’d be worried about guests burning down the heritage listed building, but obviously that hasn’t been a problem yet!
All the toiletries are from their in-house spa called The CowShed. They have created their own range of luxurious organic, botanical beauty products used and sold at the CowShed Spas at all the houses. I was lucky enough to have an indulgent facial at the CowShed at Babington, which was simply a treat because of the amazing decor and design of the building, and whole experience from beginning to end.
The billiard and games room has a typical country estate feel with cupboard full of board games and books to play. You just help yourself.
Another lounge area below for the use of guests. It’s great there are so many living and relaxing areas in the hotel, so that you have a choice depending on the weather, time of day and your mood. You aren’t stuck in your bedroom sitting on the bed if you want to relax. It’s all so well thought out, and just like a home away from home. Elegant but not stuffy, comfortable but not sloppy, stylish and chic but welcoming and warm. I loved this chandelier in the Orangery. I would love to have this above a dining table or in an entry foyer.
The decor is fabulous everywhere. It’s classically British and traditional but has a very cool and contemporary edge to it. I loved these olive green leather dining chairs with studs. Typical of the colour palette used throughout the property.
The bar was another very cool space, decorated with this amazing textural teal wallpaper, leather chesterfields and armchairs, the art deco style lighting and artwork featuring famous artists, musicians and celebrities.
There are several types of accommodation, situated in main building, the Coach House (below), by the walled garden and in a few separate cottages and lodges. They are all so luxuriously appointed, spacious, individually decorated with lounge areas and ensuites. Some are family friendly, others adults only.
They also have a heritage listed church on site which is used weekly for weddings. They only have them on a Thursday, and you have to book out the entire hotel. They are booked out 52 weeks a year. It’s hugely popular for celebrity weddings too. You can hire out the whole of Babington for 24hr and have them organise every detail of your wedding, for £30,000 which seems quite reasonable when you consider that includes everything for the wedding and all the accommodation for your guests.
We left on Thursday morning when they were setting up for a wedding that night. The lawn featured lots of pretty white lanterns strung from the trees with lighting, plus an outdoor pizza oven and alfresco bar and drinks area. Such a pretty place for a wedding whether it’s mid summer or under a blanket of snow at Christmas.
Babington House is famous for its Victorian walled garden, where they grow the majority of the vegetables, herbs, flowers etc used in the kitchens. It’s enormous and absolutely breathtaking. This was one of my favourite parts of the visit, just wandering around this garden, getting ideas and inspiration.
It really was one of the best hotel experiences we’d ever had, and would go back in a heart beat. Everything about our stay was first class, so relaxing and luxurious. I wish we had hotels of this style and calibre in Australia, it would be the ideal concept for somewhere like Milton Park or another historic hotel in Bowral. We can dream….
You can visit their website for more photos, information and to see the many other gorgeous properties in the group.