Hotel Review: The Soho Farmhouse Oxfordshire
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TO THE POINT: With all the buzz around this property, our expectations were sky high. The pros: stunning rooms you could spend all day in, attentive yet discrete service and an amazing pool. The cons: several restaurants fell short of the hotel’s otherwise high standards and some room features were so hidden I didn’t find them until the last day.
Soho Farmhouse, part of the Soho House group, opened in late-2015 with much fanfare as the exclusive members-only club’s 14th property. Located approximately 90 minutes from London, it seemed like the perfect escape from the city during an extended stay over the holidays. Given the hype, and how different it looked compared to other urban Soho House properties, we decided to check it out.
Soho House members can book a stay directly through their House Seven accounts, while non-members need to inquire directly with the property through the website. Given the popularity of this property, being flexible with your dates should help you snag a reservation. We used my Chase Sapphire Preferred card and earned 2x points on travel for our three-night stay at 475 British pounds (~$593) per night.
After a relaxing drive through the picturesque English countryside, we turned down a narrow country lane and came to the gate house. Having provided our car make and license number, we confirmed our names with the attendant and were allowed to enter the grounds. Pulling up, we surrendered our keys and the car was ferried away by one of the attendants. We were then ushered into a BMW X5 and driven straight to our cabin — no waiting at the front desk needed here. The ‘farm hand’ who drove us to our cabin gave us a little background about the property, while the farm house guide who met us at the room said we would have a dedicated farm hand should we need anything — as it turned out, this didn’t seem to be the case, but wasn’t an issue in terms of obtaining service whenever we needed it.
Outside our room were bikes that had been adjusted to our individual heights as well as two pairs of Wellington Boots in our size waiting for each of us — a really nice touch. The farm hand gave us a quick overview of the room, setting up our fireplace and wood-burning stove before he left.
Our large studio cabin was split over two levels, featuring an entryway with a kitchenette and mini-bar. Granola, bread, tea, coffee and milk — which was delivered fresh every morning — were complimentary.
The living room area had a wood-burning stove, a large flat-screen television, a couch, another chair and a small Christmas tree.
On the second level was a California King bed, a wardrobe and a desk. At the foot of the bed was a cabinet that held a television, which, unfortunately, we did not discover until the very last day, and then couldn’t figure out how to operate.
Through the bedroom was a large bathroom with a standalone claw foot tub, a huge monsoon-style shower and a separate space for the toilet. There were robes, slippers, flip flops and every Cowshed (Soho House’s spa line) product you could imagine. There was a hair dryer, but unfortunately, this was another amenity we didn’t discover until our last day because it was so well hidden.
The décor was exactly how you would imagine a chic countryside farmhouse to be — very British, rustic, warm and inviting. Our cabin had a lovely, wrap-around balcony that looked out onto a stream, while others had other perks like outdoor bathtubs.
Food and Beverage
The grounds at Soho Farmhouse are absolutely gorgeous, with 40 cabins scattered around a central area that contained the restaurants, pool, fitness center, spa, shop and stables.
Breakfast was served in the main barn, or you could have the onsite breakfast truck deliver it straight to your cabin via room service — the selections were substantial and the food was always delivered nice and hot.
The Main Barn is split between the ground floor bar and restaurant area serving British comfort food and a loft area upstairs called Fancy Farm. Lunch at the Main Barn was good but not outstanding and the service there was a little on the slow side. Dinner at Fancy Farm consisted of a similar, if elevated menu, and the décor was modified to include more candles and chandeliers, though still kept with the overall rustic farmhouse theme. The best meal was at Pen Yen, a Japanese restaurant overlooking the pool where every dish was delicious and of a quality you’d expect to see at an upmarket Japanese restaurant in New York City or London. The farm shop sold salads, pies, cakes and pastries throughout the day — it was nice to buy food from here and sit in the courtyard, where we could enjoy a snack by the fire.
The Cowshed spa was another highlight. We checked in for a mud scrub, massage and facial — the facility was world-class, if a little on the pricey side, and the experience super-relaxing.
Then, there was the pool complex, the stuff of Instagram dreams. The huge t-shaped pool begins inside a barn, then extends outside. It was heated to perfection and a pleasure to swim in, even in late-December.
Surrounding the pool is a small lake with rowboats, which you can take out.
On the other side of the lake is the ‘island,’ which is home to a steam room, sauna, ice room and several hot tubs — one of the hot tubs was almost scalding hot when we tried it, so be careful.
Every detail was taken care of, with extra robes and slippers available in the changing rooms as well as hair dryers and straighteners.
Next to the pool, there was a full gym and spin studio with daily classes, as well as tennis courts and expansive changing areas.
Additional activities included the best-designed mini-golf course I’ve ever seen, as well as working stables for horseback riding. While it looked like fun, the horseback riding options definitely seemed to be directed more toward children.
In case it wasn’t clear already, we loved staying at the Soho FarmHouse Oxfordshire and had high expectations which were, for the most part, exceeded — the property’s attention to detail, level of service and luxurious, resort-style amenities really impressed us. In general, there were only a few small glitches that could be improved, but nothing that would really put a damper on an otherwise exceptional stay.
Have you ever stayed at the Soho Farmhouse? Tell us about your experience, below.
All images courtesy of the author.
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