Soho Farmhouse has stepped-up its wellness game with this latest outdoor bathing offering
The Japanese art of Kintsugi is a curious one. Rather than hiding the cracks in ceramic items, it binds the pieces together again using precious metals and lacquers (the word itself translates as ‘golden joinery’). Popularised in the late 16th century - thanks to the rising popularity of Japan’s teahouses – it works its magic to transform a seemingly flawed object into something more precious than when it was originally wrought.
If I have Japan on the brain, it’s with good reason. I’m floating in an Onsen-like hot tub, under the stars on a sharp January night. The water’s been infused with mineral salts, and I’m feeling uncharacteristically serene and ready for the two-hour bathing ritual ahead of me. More curious is the fact that I’m not actually in an ancient hot spring town in the foothills of Japan – but in the Cotswolds, at Soho Farmhouse.
The tub is part of Farmhouse’s new wellness offering, The Lazy Lake, and the premise is simple: outdoor bathing and alternating between exposure to hot and cold environments triggers a hormetic (or put simply, a mild stress) response in your body which boosts immunity, circulation and - most crucially for January - your mood. The Japanese have been doing it for centuries, and where the East leads the West tends to follow.
Wellness is a booming, multi-million-pound industry and Soho House has long understood this. This is a big year for their original Cowshed brand which is celebrating 25 years since it was originally launched from Babington House in Somerset and now boasts of 14 spas worldwide. Last year also saw the launch of its Soho Skin line, with its sleek seventies-inspired bottles that held a full run of serums, creams and treatments that would counter those complexions ravaged by one too many Picantes.
Farmhouse was perhaps the fullest realisation of where the SH brand was heading, when it opened in 2015. A mere two hours from London, it offered 40 smart timber clad cabins with all the board games, bikes and other lo-fi hipster touches for you to live your best country life without getting too uncomfortable. It’s grown exponentially since then – much to the delight of those desperate to get in, and the chagrin of those who already were – with the addition of walled garden rooms, little piglet cabins and, most recently, a constellation of hidden huts on the former camping fields.
And yet there’s a noted vibe shift afoot. Perhaps it’s because we’re all slightly shattered from the post-pandemic toll and can’t party quite like we used to. Perhaps it’s because there are two major hotel openings in the Cotswolds this year from rival hospitality groups that are going to give Farmhouse some healthy competition.
My bet? That wellness can no longer be an afterthought but rather an integrated part of the offering at any great British hotel. And it’s going to be the golden lacquer that quietly binds the Soho House empire together.
The Lazy Lake experience starts from £60pp. Friends of Soho House memberships start from £100 per year. For more information visit sohohouse.com