Soho Farmhouse is one of the most frequented retreats from busy London life. But with cabins priced in the hundreds—if you can even make a reservation, it’s not exactly the cheapest option. Step in the new bell tents…
I’m a city girl through and through. It’s bright lights not natural wonders that make my heart pound, but there are times when everyone just needs to pause the hustle and step out of their postcode. A change after all is, so it is said, as good as a rest.
Soho Farmhouse has become a haven for London’s creative classes and while there’s something distinctly ‘clean Barbour’ about the experience, you cannot fault it for perfectly encapsulating the countryside fantasy. The problem is that it’s bloody expensive to stay there, no matter whether you’re a member or not. I’ve been lucky enough to sleep in one of the cabins and I can wholeheartedly recommend them. But you’ll be lucky to come home with small change after a single weekend, and personally I’d rather jaunt to Marrakech and bring home a Berber rug with that kind of cash.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t want stay there… It just means I need a more affordable way in. Luckily the smart Farmhouse team have answered my conundrum with a host of luxurious bell tents complete with wood burners which offer the opportunity to stay on site without totally breaking the bank. Prices start from £75 which makes the whole escapade that much more palatable.
I’ve stayed in the tents twice—once in November and once in December and of course my first concern was the heat. Camping in the bleak mid British winter certainly doesn’t sound like the dream, but on both occasions we were amply toasty because in addition to the woodburner, there are two heaters in the tent which keep the temperature sufficiently balmy.
The one main issue is that there aren’t loos or showers directly by the tents and you have to make a short walk down to the gym changing rooms to perform your ablutions. For a particular diva this might be pushing it—though the cosy chenille dressing gowns and gorgeous showering facilities do take the edge off.
The camping area also boasts a small kitchen where you can make a cup of tea or coffee and a fire pit with an accompanying acoustic guitar so one could build a bonfire and have a kumbaya session—though if anyone did this while I was staying I can think of several other uses for that guitar. Overall there’s a communal, festival-y feel and people bring along their own bottles of Prosecco and Peroni to get the party started in their teepee.
The tents themselves are gorgeously decorated with a Big Sur vibe of Navajo rugs and heavily tasseled bedspreads. The almost embarrassingly large bed is reassuringly decked out in Frette sheets, crisply ready for you to fold in at the day’s end. Aside from the tent itself the stay offers you access to Farmhouse’s many charms. A true grown up adventure playground, there’s a decadent Electric Cinema, Alex Eagle’s beautiful Concept Store (take home a Maison Labiche T-shirt), a Cowshed spa and several options for eating and drinking including my favourite Pen Yen restaurant (go for the black cod). You can ride a horse, collect eggs from the onsite hens, row a boat, swim either outdoors on in, join a yoga class, cycle around on a pistachio coloured Foffa bike and even have a go on a zip line. Basically it’s a sophisticated way to regress.
The tents are also an awesome option if you plan to come with friends and there’s a certain level of camaraderie engendered by sleeping in a field—the now strict rules you have to sign before being handed over a set of key to your tent safe (the tents don’t lock, so you can keep all prized possessions under lock)—point to the colour the bell tents have already enjoyed. So in summary: while they’re certainly not as swanky as a cabin, Soho Farmhouse’s tents are fun, great value and a great way into the country experience.