A weekend away in the Surrey Hills: Staying at Surrey Hills Barn
- Credit: Archant
The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is the perfect place to spend a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life
Surrey has its fair share of imposing manor houses at which to base a break in the countryside but it also has a number of smaller, hidden gems to uncover. Right in the heart of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, at the end of Logmore Lane, off the A25 at Westcott, Surrey Hills Barn is one such treasure.
This small but perfectly formed ancient timber framed barn conversion is owned by Gay and Richard Carlisle, who have lived at Logmore Farm (in the beautiful medieval farmhouse adjacent to Surrey Hills Barn) for around 15 years.
The couple moved to the farm after Great Bookham, where they used to live, became too ‘busy’ and decided to convert the barn (and later another on site) so that, from time to time, they could share their quiet idyll with others. Gay, an artist, explained that when she and Richard first opened the barn to guests, they had intended to run it as a B&B. “Except the first day we didn’t wake up in time to do the breakfast so they got the B but not the other B. We decided then that it would be best to just offer self catering,” she laughs.
But don’t let that make you think the couple aren’t attentive as they are on hand to help with whatever you need, should you want them to be. The anecdote merely serves as an example of the relaxed atmosphere they want their guests to experience while at the barn. With comfy soft leather sofas to lounge on, a log burning stove and nothing but miles of countryside to look out onto, it’s certainly easy to adopt their laid-back vibe.
The hub of the barn is the open plan living space with beamed ceilings, which acts as a library, snooker room, a dining room and sitting room in one. There are discreet skylights that let the light flood in from above during the day (make sure you look out for the flock of doves who nest on the farm as they fly in formation), while at night soft lighting creates a cosy ambience. The compact open plan kitchen is fully equipped and each of the three snug bedrooms, (one downstairs and two upstairs) has its own private bathroom or shower room.
Evidence of the Carlisle’s creative flair can also be found around the home; Gay’s portraits are dotted around the place (there also happens to be a Picasso hanging in the main room) and there are books a plenty lining the stairwell.
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The barn, while vaulted, is cosy and compact but much effort has been made to make use of every available space; a thin gap behind the door in one of the upstairs bedrooms has been made into a wardrobe and there’s a washing machine strategically placed within the external wall of the kitchen.
Self-catering gives you the option to cook what you like, when you like but sometimes it’s nice to not have to cook so we took up the services of Dine Indulge, a private chef company, for one of our evening meals. You can choose anything from a simple express three-course meal to an all singing, all dancing nine-course taster menu. The chef comes to you, wherever you happen to be, prepares the food, cooks it and even cleans up after!
We went for the signature five-course menu, which was cooked and served by our friendly chef for the evening, Andy, and included an amuse-bouche of pistachio and rose water marshmallow with a cardamom wafer; choices of chilli salted calamari with spicy chorizo and grilled artichoke or crispy pea and mint fritter with avocado butter and pico de gallo to start. This was followed by either dry aged British rib eye with spiced carrot puree, feta and dill cake, rocket salad and lemon brown butter sauce or caper cured and roasted monkfish tail with cinnamon squash purée, citrus emulsion, crisp radish and rocket. A palate cleanser of lemon and thyme ricotta granita (with hazelnut popping candy!) was then served before a dessert of Madagascan vanilla, blueberry and double cream brûlée with warm almond sablé crisps. Talk about fine dining in the comfort of your own home (well our home for the weekend anyway).
If you’d rather go out to eat then the Wotton Hatch pub and the Stephan Langton Inn are within 45 minutes’ walk and Dorking is just a short drive away, offering a multitude of pubs and restaurants.
Being in the heart of the Surrey Hills, there are endless countryside walks to enjoy; a bridal path leads directly from Frogmore Farm through the woodland and there are various routes you can take, whether you fancy a brisk morning walk, a leisurely stroll or more challenging trek exploring the hills.
We visited on an unusually sunny but cold weekend at the end of February (if it had been a few days later we’d have been snowed in... darn it!) therefore didn’t have much need for the terrace but in the summer months, there’s no doubt that this little private suntrap is well used.
While you won’t come across too many people while staying here, the Surrey Hills are alive with an abundance of wildlife.
On the farm alone, you’ll find a large pond with carp, ducks and visiting herons, chickens and hens (providing eggs for breakfast), doves and bees, with horses and sheep in the adjoining fields. This truly is a wonderfully rural escape.
But what’s so great about Surrey Hills Barn is, while it is hidden away in the middle of the countryside, where you can forget about the modern world and get closer to nature, it’s not too far from civilisation so you really can enjoy the best of both worlds.
Need to know
Surrey Hills Barn can be booked through Mulberry Cottages with prices starting from £725 for a three-night stay for up to six people.
Dine Indulge Private Chef packages start from £25 per head.
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