The Lakes by Yoo review
Restorative self-catering in the Cotswolds
The Quick Read: The Lakes by Yoo is a luxury gated eco-estate in the Cotswolds that offers gorgeous all-year-round self catering in a truly tranquil setting and 4 night retreats with yoga, meditation, nordic walking and a nutritionally balanced menu. The spa offers treatments and products by OSKIA and Bamford, and high profile personal trainer Matt Roberts runs bootcamps here twice a year too. What are you waiting for? It’s divine.
More on the wellbeing weekends: You can opt for a Yoga retreat, a Wellness package or an Indulge weekend. The Yoga retreat combines deep relaxation yoga and meditation with nutritious foods and fresh juices and the chance to reconnect with nature.
The Wellness package includes a range of spa treatments which guests can choose – they include OSKIA’s signature facial which combines anti-ageing and glow-inducing techniques to illuminate the skin, or Bamford’s signature 90 minute treatment, which includes a cleansing footbath, pressure point massage and culminates with yogic breathing.
The Indulge weekend also includes selected spa treatments and a a complementary meal at nearby The Wild Rabbit, a spectacular 18th century pub which oozes character with stripped back walls, open fires and hand crafted furniture. The fresh seasonal and locally sourced food is cooked by Head chef Adam Caisley who has previously worked with the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Albert Roux.
To get a feel for a relaxing experience of The Lakes by Yoo, read a word from the queen on an ila retreat that ran here.
More on the Matt Roberts Boot Camps: You’ll probably recognise Matt Roberts from the UK media as he’s been giving personal training and fitness advice for over 15 years. Each of his bootcamps at Yoo has a specific focus such as Triathalon training, fat-loss or optimum health and nutrition, and where appropriate, they will work on changing lifestyles.
Activities might include resistance circuit training, running, mountain biking and swimming, and there’ll be expert workshops on topics like running technique and body analysis. You’ll be give health assessments throughout and eat from a carefully planned menu. These run twice a year – check www.mattroberts.co.uk for dates and prices.
More on the outside: The property is set around a network of six manmade lakes. Although it’s spread out over 650 acres, the feeling is of discreet eco-luxury rather than wild, untamed nature (as one of our fellow guests put it: ‘Center Parcs for the wealthy’). There’s a spa and swimming pool as well as an onsite ecology manager whose remit is to create and maintain a wildlife and flora habitat. Canoeing, riding, fishing, tennis, tree-house building, archery, boating, sailing and tennis are all available to pre-book.
More on the inside: The uber-luxe houses are intended for second home use and tend to have been designed by Yoo collaborators Kelly Hoppen, Jade Jagger or Phillip Starck. Houses vary in style. As an example, The Dock House is owned (and rented out) by the model Elle Macpherson. It’s the height of rustic luxury and overlooks a lake. Flat-roofed, sleek, glass-fronted and futuristic, it’s built to be energy and water efficient and is clad in sustainable timber. Biomass heating, eco-cooling and rainwater harvesting are among the green measures installed.
Built over three floors, it’s dominated by the floor-to-ceiling windows with calming lake views. Colours are muted and tasteful – blues and pistachio greens and greys. On the long kitchen table top is a kettle with herbal teas and a caffeine alternative – a homely touch, and we’re invited to help ourselves. There’s an Aga, and a huge dining table for communal meals. The lounge is dominated by vast photographs – by the likes of Annie Leibovitz and Don McCullin. Games and books are strewn about on coffee tables, there are rugs underfoot, comfy sofas, slouchy chairs and a fireplace.
Bedrooms are vast with king-sized beds and gorgeous lake views. The bathrooms have free-standing bath, shower and his-and-hers sinks. Inevitably and wondrously they are well-stocked with ila products. There’s an original painting by Anish Kapoor by one of the beds and also a giant photo of Elle. The master suite runs the length and breadth of the house. It has its own walk-in dressing room, steam room and deck with daybed. It’s the one to plump for if you’re splurging.
More on the food and drink: These houses are self-catering, but meals can be provided on the weekend packages – when we visited they were supremely healthy. Breakfast could be porridge with berries or dates, beetroot, ginger and cucumber juice, eggs from the Yoo farm chickens (Sussex hens and Cream Legbars) and bread from the excellent Abbey Home Farm Shop about 30 mins away in Cirencester. Typical meals run along the lines of vegetarian chilli, courgette and pepper salad, guacamole, coleslaw, green beans, squash soup, kohlrabi and marinated mushrooms. Pudding could be figs and baklava and bouja bouja ice-cream followed by herbal tea.
What’s lowly: There are trivial annoyances – no hangers in the wardrobes and nowhere to leave a bar of soap or shampoo close to the freestanding bath. Also, there is no loo in the Birdhouse where yoga is practiced so, if nature calls, you have to go and pee in a bush.
Costs: The yoga retreat starts from £1,850 per person, the wellness package from £1835 and the Indulge weekend from £1,900.
Getting there: Yoo is about a twenty minute drive from Swindon, Gloucestershire, where there is a station, and a 90 minute drive from London.
Reviewed by Jini Reddy
© Queen of Retreats