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TBS in The Sunday Times – Join The New Country Club

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Knight Frank
London and Country specialist property buying agents
29 Jul 2019  |   Harry Gladwin

Government figures show that record numbers of people are moving out of London – 340,500 in 2018. Many are looking to live close to clubs with London style facilities, spas, restaurants, gyms and the chance to mingle with like minded people.  The Newt in Somerset, whilst not a members club itself, is the latest in luxury boutique destinations to hit the map and have a positive impact on local house prices, over the past five years prices for two/three bedroom cottages locally have increased by 12 per cent.

Beaverbrook in Surrey is a members club that’s drawing the local crowd by their droves. At a cost of £3000 a year, locals can only use the facilities during the week as it’s reserved for the golf club members on weekends.

One area and members club that requires little persuasion are the villages in the North Cotswolds surrounding Soho Farmhouse. Great Tew, the local village to Soho Farmhouse, will soon have another pull, ‘The Mullin’; Peter Mullin’s new vintage car museum, racetrack and 28 new residential lodges.

Harry Gladwin outlines his thoughts on how Soho Farmhouse has fuelled this kind of ‘members club’ living.

– To what extent has Soho Farmhouse revived a yearning for this kind of living? Is it used as the benchmark and blueprint for how to attract the country set? 

The experience on offer at Soho Farmhouse is very different from that of the traditional Manor House hotel / club of previous generations. Whilst Soho Farmhouse sits in a beautiful part of the country, it’s the combination of this and the cool creative vibe of Soho House which creates such a strong appeal. The opportunity to surround yourself with not only the beautiful people of Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds, but also a concentration of artists who have just dropped in from LA or taken a quick trip out from London is un-replicated elsewhere in the region. The fact that it is a primarily a private members club gives it a feeling of exclusivity without the stuffiness of a traditional country club.

I remember looking at the original drawings of the Farmhouse when they were very much at concept phase and thinking that it looked like a concept car – absolutely beautiful and incredible, but unlikely to work or that anyone would build it. The person showing me the drawings, seeing my confusion said – “Its going to offer a different vibe to anything else in the area ….you’ve been to the Maldives? – well imagine a blend of London / LA cool / the Maldives all here in the Cotswolds?…. And let’s face it, where can you get a good mojito around here on a Friday night?” As it happens I have never been to the Maldives and I hadn’t ever been that sensitive to the dearth of mojitos, but what Soho Farmhouse offers is wonderful – a buzz which you don’t find anywhere else, great facilities and a fun mix of interesting people.

– Any new clubs opening that are hoping to attract a Soho Farmhouse-type audience in their area of the country? (with our without residences for sale). 

 The next phase of the evolution of this part of the world will be the creation of The Mullin – a museum / mecca for those with high end vintage cars. With another influx of HNWIs to the Cotswolds, expect to see a further improvements in regional facilities – more foodie pubs with beautiful rooms, upgraded hotels, more cool festivals such as Cornbury, Wilderness etc. The Cotswolds are vast and multi-faceted, with the ability to offer something for everyone and for many, Soho Farmhouse etc hold absolutely no appeal. That said, a small corner in the North Cotswolds, home to Daylesford Organic and Soho Farmhouse, is absolutely buzzing and whilst all progress comes with compromises, the success of these enterprises has to be a good thing which ultimately benefits everybody.

– How has the country club concept updated itself for modern day visitors/property buyers?

 The versatility of Soho Farmhouse means that locals can dip in and out to use the gym, have a coffee, lunch, dinner or members can visit and stay for a long weekend, remaining within the grounds, or using it as a base from which to explore the Cotswolds. The buzz this creates and the quality / difference of what is on offer, means that many more people want to live within 30 mins of The Farmhouse. One could argue that the quality of what is on offer can be found or exceeded in many other parts of the region – which is true, but the experience can’t be replicated, and that is what draws people to this very specific corner of this region.

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