Need to know
Six luxury villas.
10am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from $1337.91 (£1,004), excluding tax at 20 per cent.
Rates usually exclude breakfast, served to your door in a hamper (from £50 for two guests). You can look forward to Sudeley Hill Farm sausages, smoked bacon, organic eggs, bloomer from a local baker, pastries, date-and-apricot granola, tea and coffee.
Yoo’s concierge team will light your fire (literally, not metaphorically), deliver a bike to your door and bring you hampers packed with Cook dishes. Fancy a barbecue? Like the best of house-party guests, staff will arrive with a full grill’s worth of meat, light the coals, cook, serve and clean up after. You can also have a mixologist tend bar in your kitchen with a full arsenal of spirits and a few drinking games up their sleeve.
At the hotel
Man-made lakes with boats and canoes; small beach, tennis courts, football pitch, vegetable garden, arboretum, bird-hide, trampoline, acres of meadowland, spa, sauna and steam room, gym, and free WiFi. In villas: a full kitchen, flatscreen TVs (some with Sky TV channels), Blu-ray players, sound system, Nespresso coffee-maker, board games, gas or coal barbecue, free WiFi and Bamford bath products. Each villa is unique; some by the lakes have kayaks; some have a PlayStation. The Barnhouse has Kate-curated extras: a Crosley turntable and classic vinyl, cocktail-shaking kit, jackets and hats from Mossie’s wardrobe, marble noughts-and-crosses game, acoustic guitar, original artwork, vintage kimonos and Annick Goutal goodies.
Our favourite rooms
Huntsman Lakehouse is a handsome devil, clad in tartan and furs. Its furnished terrace overhangs Huntsmans Lake, and the penthouse suite has 360-degree views and breaking-with-tradition decor of neon-yellow, cowhide and metallic tiling – it may not fly at the local fête, but we wholeheartedly approve. The Barnhouse is Yoo’s pièce de résidence – Moss’ name adds the glitter, but her Mad Men-esque, vintage-inspired, shouldn’t-work-but-does interiors show she’s more than just a pretty face.
The indoor, heated pool in the main building (around a 10-minute walk from most villas) cleverly allows you to enjoy the green gloriousness of the British countryside through walls of windows, while letting you shelter from the – occasionally (ahem) – poor British weather. Lined with deep-blue tiles and surrounded by snooze-ably soft loungers and day-beds, it’s also handily set by the sauna and steam room. The Barnhouse has a private pool, but lodgers by the lakes can dive straight in for a spot of wild swimming.
Just follow your nose to the Orchard's treatment rooms – cosy lemongrass- and rose-scented sanctuaries in the main building. Therapists will knead, scrub and apply Spiezia Organics and Bamford lotions and potions to ensure that you leave looking as though you’ve been on a refreshing country hike. Beauty treatments are offered too, and the gym is hot on toning and trimming, with boxercise, yoga classes and TRX workouts.
Pack a pair of Hunter wellies to look the part; country evenings can be a little quiet, so a stash of travel games may come in handy: Scrabble, anyone?
If you want to commune with nature, stop by the estate’s chicken coop or petting hut to say hello to their feathered and fluffy residents.
Little Smiths are welcome. Villas sleep the biggest broods and a kids club has activities to fill the longest of school hols: rock-music lessons, bushcraft (with Ben Fogle, no less), laser-tag and Nerf wars. Nannies and babysitters can be booked, too.
Juniors, tweens and teens will appreciate the outdoorsy fun.
All villas have enough rooms to sleep smalls; however, White Willow Lodge and Bowmore Lodge get our top spot for their children’s bunk rooms.
The excellent kids club (open midweek during dchool holidays) is divvied up by age into Crawlers (six months to four years), Critters and Yoo Crew, and there's a packed schedule of outdoor and indoor fun. The School of Rock programme teaches kids how to shred on a guitar and beat drum-skins like they mean it; TV adventurer Ben Fogle teaches bushcraft skills: how to make a fire, carve wood and build a rocket stove. There’s also a regular roster of paintballing, Nerf wars, arts and crafts, laser tag and sports. Outside the kids club, little Smiths can play out Swallows and Amazons-style fantasies by zipwiring over the lake, cycling on the estate, and canoeing and fishing on the beach.
The pool is 1.2m deep and has no lifeguard, so children should be closely watched. There's a separate kids' bubble pool for little ones.
Fear not, frazzled parents – at Elsa’s your little ones can run around with abandon while you sip champagne. For kids, there are pizza slices and burgers; highchairs are available on request. Cook’s kids meals (spag bol, mac and cheese) can be delivered to your villa.
Nannies and babysitters can be booked for £52 a child, for a minimum of three hours; each additional hour is £11.50.
Parents attending the Crawlers club are offered coffee, tea and cake while they natter to other parents. No baby-listening. In your villa, a monitor will come in handy, but the estate’s too spread out for it to work in the main building and Elsa’s. The Lakes by Yoo has most bases covered for home comforts, but pack favoured toys and more obscure baby kit.