When I told my 17-year-old son Jack we were having a mini-break at the home of a supermodel, there was a tentative glint in his eye. He was right to be suspicious. Of course I hadn’t managed to wangle an invite to Cara Delevingne's country estate for a long weekend; but a stay in the house that Kate Moss designed on the luxury Cotswolds development The Lakes by Yoo, was a pretty fine alternative. The double-height gabled five-bedroom "Barnhouse" is set in its own secluded one-acre plot of private woodland, decorated in soft earthy hues with statement furnishings, which are testament to the iconic model’s exquisite taste. "She has created a warm family feel with a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll thrown in. It’s a modern take on the Cotswolds," John Hitchcox, the owner of The Lakes by Yoo told me a while back.
The Barnhouse oozes style with this instagram-worthy gallery wall
For the past four years, since Kate Moss launched her first foray into interior design, the property has earned its keep as a show-house, tempting well-heeled prospective buyers to purchase their own luxury haven in the woods on the private estate near Lechlade.
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And what a show-off it is: a cavernous space with an enormous gable window that stretches from the floor to the rafters (draped in grey textured impossibly long curtains) looking out on to a silver birch wood and the lake just beyond.
The lofty entrance hall alone hit the spot for me: the full height atrium lit by a trio of oval shaped Markham globe lanterns by Jamb and a gallery of photographs of the great and the good, including a bright-eyed young Frank Sinatra and a semi-naked shot of Kate Moss herself.
Take in the breathtaking lake views
Upstairs one of the stand-out pieces was the mirrored four-poster bed in the master bedroom, a modern take on art-deco and hand-made by old-school joiner David Haddock, who did Kate’s dressing room in her London home.
X-Factor fans may remember the house from the 2015 edition of the series when Nick Grimshaw with Mark Ronson used it as his Judge’s House - and it has been a huge draw ever since. So much so in fact that it has been rented out almost continually and a double-sized double replica barn has since been built right next door.
For my boys however – my teenager Jack and my youngest son, Luc, who’s 11 – it was the outdoor heated swimming pool which proved the major attraction. Even the chilly wintry air couldn’t deter them from diving straight in and spending hours splashing about in the steaming waters. I have to say, even their shivery mother braved a dip – and it was surprisingly warm. There is also a spacious decked outdoor entertaining area for barbecues and dining and large retractable doors which brings the outdoors inside.
Once cocooned within the green oak and stone walls of The Barnhouse however, we kicked off our shoes and relaxed on the incredibly comfortable jewel-coloured velvet Talisman sofas, in front of the log burner centrepiece, watching sport and movies on the biggest screen my boys had ever seen in their lives. I had to prise them away.
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There was heaps to keep them amused beyond the confines of our luxury retreat too: 650 acres of private parkland, woods and meadows to explore, including endless paths set around a series of six clear water lakes, one stocked specifically for fishing; another for sailing, while another featured a bird-hide to watch the local wildlife.
There are tennis courts, a football pitch, a trampoline and even a zip-wire – and you can hire kayaks, canoes, rowing boats and even stand up paddle boards, as well as bicycles.
For younger children, there’s a kids club during school holidays where your brood can try their hand at whittling and fire starting at the School of Wild or indulge in some good old fashioned air rifle shooting, as well as the petting enclosure, situated in the meadow, which is home to a child-friendly menagerie of rabbits and guinea pigs. There is also a chicken coup where you can take the little ones to gather eggs for breakfast.
Whip up dinner in this sleek and modern kitchen
Weary parents can meanwhile indulge in one of the relaxing botanical treatments by Bamford, on offer at the Orchard Spa. I opted for a sports massage, which hit the spot, but there’s also reflexology, facials, waxing and manicures; as well as a heated pool, sauna, outdoor hot tub and gym.
And Kate Moss isn’t the only celebrity style guru to leave her mark on the development. Founder Johnn Hitchcox, who teamed up with design maestro Philippe Starck to develop the original concept for the estate, had the bright idea of inviting a series of well-known designers and arbiters of taste to create the interiors for several houses, amongst them, Jade Jagger, Elle Macpherson and Kelly Hoppen.
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I had previously stayed at the lakeside property designed by Jade Jagger, which is ideal for a spring or summer visit, when you can sunbathe on your verandah, occasionally dipping into the crystal waters to cool off. Kate Moss actually has a house nearby, in a more traditional Cotswold dwelling, but had always dreamed of trying her hand at interior design.
Although it would have been easy to stay put, we managed to venture beyond the confines of the estate and visited The Bell Inn in Langford, a cosy simply decorated traditional pub, which has been highly recommended by Giles Coren of The Times – and where we had one of the best pub lunches I have tried in a long while. Other recommended pubs include The Swan at Southrop and The Five Alls in Filkins, which has a nice garden.
Also nearby and well worth a visit is Kelmscott Manor, the Cotswolds retreat of textile designer William Morris, who described it as "loveliest haunt of ancient peace" and signed a joint lease for the property with his friend and colleague Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the Pre-Raphaelite artist. The house and gardens and surrounding countryside provided inspiration for some of his best-known designs and writings, as well as his ideas on conservation.
Home of Bamford products, Daylesford Farmshop and Café is also in the vicinity, though still a good hour’s drive away, but certainly worth a visit if you are here for a few days.
Make sure you reserve bicycles ahead of your stay as they can get booked up. One of the most pleasurable things to do on the estate for me, was cycling around the Sailing Lake or down by the river past the Kids Club.
For more information call +44 (0) 1367 250066 or go to their webiste thelakesbyyoo.com