Where the nightingales sing, facing south towards the mirror of Swillbrook Lake and the hush of the nature reserve, sits Ferndale House. This is a Cotswolds gem for the stressed and the eternally busy. Watch the birds on the lake, chill in the on-site spa, swim in 30-degree bliss. Check in, kick back and switch off.
Unpacked? Great. Let’s head over to that spa. Beautifully modernist and easily walkable, the ArtSpa is where you leave your worries at the door. Dip into the eco-pool, naturally filtered by water lilies. Swim in the outdoor and indoor heated pools, steam your cares away in the sauna, or indulge in over 60 gentle therapies.
Inside, the fixtures and fittings are pulled from the pages of the finest interiors mags. Pick from six bedrooms: one with sliding doors out to the deck will do nicely. Get cooking or get catered for in the high-spec kitchen, sociably open to the living areas. Get around the 50” TV for movies and matches. Get living again.
Saunter from bedroom to balcony as indoors meets out in a nature reserve teeming with wildlife and the soundtrack of the nightingale’s song. But Berkeley Square this isn’t. The silence is serene, birds land gently on the lake, and life gets put on hold awhile. It’s a world of damselflies and dragonflies.
The balconies here is the scene-stealer. The vista over the reserve seems infinite. It’s best appreciated with steaks and salad from the shop and a bottle from the wine cooler. Mix with family and friends on the rattan furniture and enjoy chilled.
Your garden here is the 550 acres of rampant nature that spread out before you. It’s a land teeming with ducks and geese, breeding cuckoos, house martins, otters and even the odd beaver.
Fish, walk, run. Breathe the clean air. Swim in the spa’s heated indoor and outdoor pools. Refresh in the outdoor eco pool, sizzle in the sauna, and choose from over 60 treatments, including hot-stone massages, body wraps, facials, pedicures, manicures and body waxing.
Fans of oaky minimalism will love the spaces here, but you might love the outside more. This is life turned inside-out, with huge square footage devoted to al-fresco living. Hop out to the airy balconies on a whim or top it all and get together for barbies and bottles from the wine cooler.
Balconies come with lake views and delicious twists: a den for the kids on the ground floor, a Perspex hanging chair higher up, and plenty of beds on which to kick back in the late-afternoon sunshine. Get out there in groups or on your own with a good book. Spaces here are as flexible as they’re fun.
Inside, the top-floor living/dining area is agreeably open, so the chit-chat flows as easily as the wifi and the movement from sofa to kitchen to dining table. Duck back inside to catch a film or footy match on the big-screen TV.
Glass-fronted Ferndale may be, but side windows here are opaque, for perfect privacy. There’s a coffee table around the woodburning stove, naturally. So, chill. Move from out to in as the mood takes. Watch the wildlife, listen out for the nightingales, top up your glass.
Ferndale House is life with a view and the main dining area here is lakeside, with the extending table taking ten with a vista through the glass of the lake and the sky. Or get properly al-fresco, dining high on the rooftop balcony as the birds land on the lake and the wine corks pop in the evening sunshine.
It’s the open flow you’ll love here on the top floor, moving from squishy sofa, aperitif in hand, to kitchen to dining table to terrace in easy movements, chit-chatting as you chop. But if you’d prefer a little outside help, Dine Indulge can step in. Enjoy a little dry-aged ribeye or crisp-crusted scallops. And don’t worry about the washing-up.
Buy organically from the site shop, or head out for fresh local ingredients at the Baker’s Arms or Tierra and Mar. Go budget-friendly at LB’s. Or push the boat out with Michelin-recognised meals at Jesse’s Bistro, Wild Duck, The Coterie or Made by Bob.
Or maybe eat on-site? The Ballihoo Clubhouse and Restaurant changes its menu daily, offering a true taste of the Cotswolds through breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and takeaways. Summer events include a Pimm’s and Prosecco Party, a Deep South Hog Roast and Big Pan Paella and Sangria.
Keep things harmonious by not squabbling over the balcony bedrooms, although we wouldn’t blame you. Keep the doors open at night, breathe clean Cotswold air and wake to the sound of the birds on the lake.
On the ground floor, you’ll find a luxurious family bathroom with a shower over the bath. There are two double bedrooms here, one with sliding doors out onto the ground-floor deck. Kids will love the wooden playden.
On the first floor, a twin bedroom with sliding doors onto the lakeside deck comes with an en-suite with shower over the bath. There’s a hanging chair on the balcony on which to while away summer evenings. The kingsize master comes with en-suite with shower over bath and an iPod dock.
Another twin features sliding doors onto the front deck and there’s another delightful children’s room with a 2’6″ four-poster bed with pull-out truckle underneath.