Welcome to a world of quirky luxury and rustic charm. Beneath the thatched roof of Tranquility Lakehouse, a dozen family and friends plus a couple of dogs, or corporate retreaters, can celebrate, picnic, socialise, catch up and generally make merry next to the open waters and woodland of Oxfordshire’s Sonning Eye.
Just minutes from Henley-on-Thames, where the riverside restaurants gaze out on the languid river traffic, Tranquility Lakehouse opens its double doors onto a beamy living and kitchen area designed to let you chat as you chop. Light from the floor-to-ceiling windows floods over a chunky, rustic dining table. Butter the bread, pass the wine.
As dusk drops, move indoors for a movie in the second lounge or get around the firepit for starlit socialising. Pick from four meticulously designed en-suite bedrooms and be embraced by crisp linens and scatter cushions. Be quick to bag the bedroom with the sexy standalone bathtub and lounge with chess and sofa bed.
Where the willows weep into the reedy pond, enjoy a champagne celebration on the banks or make it a meatfest on the coal barbie and eat on the terrace. As the steaks sizzle, watch the kids burn it up on the trampoline, kick a ball into the footie nets, play ping-pong or slam-dunk the basketball. End the day with marshies around the firepit.
Beneath the thatched roof, rustic charm meets pure luxury. First impressions count and it all begins through the double doors in a generous open-plan hallway flooded with light from floor-to-ceiling glass. The high glass continues in the sociable lounge area off the kitchen, designed for choppers and chatters.
Stock up on popcorn and Prosecco for evening movies in the second lounge with its squishy sofas. Make the most of the indoor-outdoor flow and slip out from the kitchen living space to the terrace for drinks mixed with table tennis or basketball. Keep your fitness up with the free weights and spin bikes in the gym.
Welcome to a huge, open-plan kitchen, lounge and diner all rolled into one. This is a sociable space for chefs who like to chat as they chop, or just keep an eye on the kids. There’s plenty of seating around the tables here, so stock up on Prosecco, loosen your belts and let the feast begin.
For even lazier lunches and more, call up Sojo Kitchen for chef services, afternoon tea, picnic boxes, grazing platters, and even a bit of bubbly on arrival. Or cook on the coal barbecue and eat on the terrace or pack a champagne picnic for the lake. Treat yourself to takeaways from Zizzi and Pizza Express for Italian or Giggling Squid for Thai.
Want posher nosh? You’re just a minute from the renowned French Horn restaurant, with ducks roasting on the fire, river frontage and wines from every Burgundy village. Or maybe it’ll be chicken, mushroom and tarragon pie or Hereford 28 day-aged rump steak from The Frog at Skirtmet.
There’s more fine dining on offer at The Yew Tree in Frieth: lick your lips over charcoal-baked Camembert or lemon and thyme pork schnitzel. Enjoy muntjac at The Golden Ball. Or pop out to a picture-perfect English pub and tuck into south-coast lamb faggots or Cornish-orchard cured sea trout at The Bull Inn.
Four en-suite bedrooms here sleeping up to 12 come meticulously designed, with scatter cushions for homely comfort and crisp linens that hug you off to sleep. Wake to the gentle call of birdlife from the pond.
Bedroom one is a double, while bedroom two offers a superking and bedroom three a kingsize. For pure luxury, get in early and be sure to bag bedroom four for its kingsize bed, lounge area complete with chess board and extra sofa bed plus a standalone bathtub for long, lazy soaks.