A luxury country retreat, said to be a favourite haunt among A-list celebrities, including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, wants to make its Covid-friendly ‘glamping site’ a permanent fixture, according to new plans.
The trendy Soho Farmhouse in the Cotswolds wants to allow its celebrity visitors, as well as those on a tighter budget, to be able to camp all year round in its luxury glamping tents.
The news will be a boost for A-listers looking for a Covid-friendly getaway amid the ongoing pandemic – with tents spaced out beyond the government’s current one metre social distancing rule and experts believing the risk of infection to be lower when outside.
The exclusive members’ club, near Chipping Norton, which is reportedly where Duchess of Sussex hosted her hen do, already has tents set up at the site.
But it has applied to West Oxfordshire District Council to make the campsite a permanent fixture.
The camp site will be 15 glamping tents, each with a double bed, luxurious armchairs and a clothing rail.
The trendy Soho Farmhouse, in the Cotswolds, wants to allow its celebrity visitors, as well as those on a tighter budget, to be able to camp all year round
The exclusive members’ club, near Chipping Norton, which is reportedly where Duchess of Sussex (pictured here with Prince Harry) held her hen do, has applied to West Oxfordshire District Council to make its campsite a permanent fixture
There will be 15 glamping tents (like these pictured), each with a double bed, luxurious armchairs and a clothing rail
They will be put up a picturesque woodland, and the hotel also wants to move the site’s five-a-side football pitch.
The country retreat is a favourite haunt for many A-listers including Eddie Redmayne, the Clooneys, Cara Delevigne and the Camerons – as well as the Sussexes. The Beckhams also live close by.
The country retreat is a favourite haunt for many A-listers including Eddie Redmayne, the Clooneys, Cara Delevigne (pictured) and the Camerons – as well as the Sussexes
The exclusive lodge, which already has its own gym, sauna, tennis courts and swimming pool, currently has tents available on a temporary basis.
The members’ club – which costs around £1,400-a-year – wants to turn the campsite into a permanent, all-year-round feature, allowing celebrities to sleep under the stars amongst woodland in luxury glamping tents.
The planning report states: ‘The management of Soho Farmhouse were also keen to ensure the hotel was more inclusive and so a decision was made that any additional accommodation should be set at a lower price-point to appeal to those with a smaller budget of between £100 and £200.
‘Various options for additional accommodation were considered including shepherds huts, gypsy caravans, yurts and bell tents.
‘Research into these options found that ‘glamping’ in bell tents was popular in this part of Oxfordshire and so a decision was made to look for a suitable location for a campsite adjacent to the main Soho Farmhouse site.’
The report explains how Soho Farmhouse chiefs now want to make this a permanent fixture.
The members’ club – which costs around £1,400-a-year – wants to turn the campsite into a permanent, all-year-round feature. Pictured: A sketch of the proposed new Guest Welfare building
If plans are given the green-light, it will allow celebrities to sleep under the stars amongst woodland in luxury glamping tents all year round. Pictured: Plans for the luxury glamping tents
‘Creating a permanent campsite is an opportunity to design and implement a new landscaping scheme that fully integrates that land as part of the wider site in hotel and leisure use, including a strong landscaped boundary with the adjoining farmland,’ it says.
‘This proposal is to plant trees to create a woodland with clearings, or glades, interlinked with walkways/cycle paths.
David and Victoria Beckham (pictured), who live a stone’s throw away, have not objected
‘The woodland will be planted with native trees with an understorey of shrubs and bounded by a recently planted native hedgerow to the west.’
However the plans have attracted ire from the locals in the celebrity-filled Cotswolds area.
David and Victoria Beckham, who live a stone’s throw away, have not objected.
However, other residents, including Claire Barry, of Chipping Norton, blasted Soho Farmhouse over the development.
She said: ‘At a time when we need all our farm land why is this land being changed?
‘I surmise that the customers of this campsite identify themselves as vegan/vegetarian and if we are to feed the population that identifies in this way we will need more farmland.
‘Therefore it would be something that these very customers will be against.’
She added: ‘Here we are in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is nature biting back, it is a time when we should consider seriously how we go forward.
As well as set up the tents, Soho Farmhouse will put up a picturesque woodland, and the hotel also wants to move the site’s five-a-side football pitch (pictured left)
‘A campsite where customers are encouraged to drive 150 miles for a meal and an overnight stay is beginning to seem out of step with a world where the climate is falling apart due to pollution and now with a virus that is so dangerous.
‘Maybe now is the time for all of us to rethink and allowing much needed farmland to be converted to the equivalent of Disneyland is something that should be reconsidered.’
The private members’ club has commissioned assessments into the plans’ impact on flora and fauna as part of the application, while the creation of additional habitats will have a ‘positive impact on biodiversity’, a report adds.
The plans come as Britons have been scrambling to arrange holidays at home after lockdown rules on overnight stays were finally lifted – with booking sites reporting record sales.
Hotels, B&Bs and campsites have seen a surge in demand since the PM earlier this month gave the green light for people to return to self-contained quarters from July 4.
Holidaymakers rushed to arrange stays at luxury lodges, glamping sites and upmarket hotels in the hours after Boris Johnson’s announcement.
One popular destination The Pig on the Beach in Swanage, Dorset, was already fully booked until September 6.
The Pig On The Beach in Swanage, Dorset (pictured), is already fully booked until September 6
Larger hotel chains have also experienced a substantial spike in bookings, with one reporting a 575 per cent increase in the first 24 hours since the government announced a lifting of restrictions.
Those heading on staycations this summer will have to adhere to new safety measures, with guests expected to remain more than 1m apart from others.
There will also be contactless check-ins, increased hygiene measures and guests will not be permitted to welcome any visitors during their stay.
Experts believe camping and glamping to be one of the safest staycation options in relation to Covid-19.
Last month, Deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said it is a ‘biological truism’ that being outdoors is safer than being in an enclosed space with people potentially carrying the virus.