A chef, baker, trainer, designer, entrepreneur, and gardener walked into a bar. What did they create? Birch.
Birch is the new hotel and members club to know. Set among 55-acres of picturesque Hertfordshire greenery, the restored 18th-century estate offers a sense of complete escapism less than a 30-minute train journey from London. Its concept – “time off for the always on” – couldn’t feel more appropriate for now. So, is Birch the ultimate creative escape?
Despite its cooler-than-cool concept, there’s nothing pretentious about Birch. Riffing on the notion that the imagination is fuelled by nature, it celebrates the mindful, calming benefits of creative pursuits and guests are sure to find something that resonates on its calendar of cultural offerings.
There’s a clear focus on design throughout the property. Considered, quietly luxurious interiors are peppered with handmade ceramics, restored architectural features and kintsugi-inspired accents that celebrate the natural beauty of the building and the skills of the artists behind it.
Open fireplaces and velvet sofas create a cosy spot to settle in with a glass of wine and during summer, live DJs play in the grounds outside.
Bedrooms encompass a different aesthetic to the main house – one of Scandi-chic minimalism. Light and spacious with linen sheets and dried flowers for decoration, they set the tone for a restful night’s sleep. Twin rooms are available and towels and toiletries are provided, but extras (hairdryer, dressing gown, tea and coffee making facilities) aren’t included.
The Little Extras
The Screening Room deserves a special mention. Family-friendly films are projected onto the wall throughout the day, surrounded by blue and white striped deck chairs that spark a sense of nostalgia for balmy summer nights.
The Food + Drink
Food is taken seriously and the Zebra Riding Club restaurant follows a farm-to-table approach. Set menus are crafted using best-in-season, locally sourced produce and there’s a flourishing orchard and herb garden on-site. Valeries – the all-day café and restaurant – serves up lighter dishes from 7AM until the evening, and the bread is all baked on-site.
Cocktails are creative and on-tap, wine is well-considered and moderately priced, and coffee is delicious. Look out for the ceramic handles on the bar taps – each is unique and made by the Birch ceramicist.
The To-Do List
Whether you’re a seasoned remote worker or you’ve adapted in 2020, logging in from The Hub will offer a welcome change of scene. A strong WiFi connection, plug sockets in the tables and relaxation areas as well as more sociable set-ups create a productive working environment.
Fitness enthusiasts will feel at home in the Wellness Space, which features a fully equipped gym as well as a bright and airy studio space with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the grounds. Classes range from HIIT, weights sessions and spinning to yoga and meditation. Check the schedule for specialist workshops like sound healing and candlelight yin.
Inside the main house, learn to make your own soda bread, take a ceramic pottery course or bring a slice of the countryside back to your city abode with your very own handmade terrariums.