Green Farm, Kent, England
A delightful rural retreat on a working farm with a boutique spa
Best for: Those in search of a convivial, peaceful antidote to urban living
Not for: Anyone who wants a country house hotel spa experience
Takes up to 14 in the barn and 12 in the house
The Good Life meets New Age in beautiful rural Kent at this unique retreat, which offers mini spa breaks with private yoga, fitness, art and gardening sessions year-round and occasional yoga and cake mornings (yum), yoga days and yoga weekends. Stay over for a Spa & Stay in the family home, a lovingly restored historic medieval house, or with a group of friends in a restored self-catering barn. There is a boutique farm spa, hot tubs in a pretty walled garden and on the pond, and a sauna. Expect a warm welcome, home cooking, farm animals and woodland walks.
The warmth of the welcome and Martin and MaryAnn’s enthusiasm for sharing their home and surroundings with their guests. This is a unique project built on passion and a real commitment to preserving and nurturing the environment.
Being on a farm, fields can be uneven and muddy in the winter. The 600 year-old listed house means that a stay can involve sharing bathrooms, though luxury gowns are provided and you may well have the place to yourself for a Spa & Stay.
Book now for an Art Retreat
22 – 24 September: Join artist Catherine Farr for a weekend of art classes, relaxing country walks, massages and spa treatments in beautiful Kent Countryside at Green Farm, where you can enjoy the beauty and simplicity of art in a natural setting alongside luxury accommodation. Green Farm also offers yoga, art, gardening and spa day and weekend retreats – contact them for full details.
You can stay at Green Farm for a night or more to use the spa, attend a yoga day, pre-book private yoga, fitness, art or gardening sessions or enjoy woodland walks and wine tasting. Come alone or with a friend and stay in the house, or bring family or friends and stay in the self-catering barn.
The spa offers a range of beauty treatments and massages using delectable and natural ESPA products. Choose body treatments such as hot stone, deep tissue or aromatherapy massages, a back, face and scalp treatment, a stimulating hip and thigh treatment or a detox body wrap. There are facials and other skin treatments, as well as all the usual beautifying treatments like waxing, pedicure and manicure.
You can arrange to have private yoga and meditation sessions before you arrive as part of your spa break, or come for yoga and cake mornings, yoga days or yoga weekends on set dates. Classes are taught outside by the pond in good weather or in the haybarn.
Private yoga classes and a weekly group class at Green Farm are run by Sally Bayly, who has practiced and taught yoga in all styles for over two decades and now teaches a general hatha yoga class which incorporates elements of Iyengar to correct postures, sivananda for an easy to remember routine, and ashtanga vinyasa to keep it flowing.
Yoga mornings, days and weekends are led by London-based yoga teacher Emma Deery, an ex-dancer, actress, and life-long yoga-devotee who is a YTTC 200hr Yoga Alliance accredited teacher. Her passion to share her love and belief of all ‘limbs’ of yoga is evident both on and off the mat, and she teaches a range of styles including hatha, yin and kundalini.
Emma adapts the levels of yoga according to the group, but tends to do a general practice to accommodate beginners and includes asana, meditation and pranayama in all her classes. Yoga and cake mornings include a 90 minute yoga hour session followed by delicious vegan sugar and gluten-free cake. On the weekend yoga retreats there is also a Yoga Nidra session (a guided sleep meditation) and an active kundalini meditation.
Bespoke keep fit sessions with a local personal trainer are available on request in a unique private woodland setting with beautiful clearings and exercise stations. Training outdoors burns more calories than in the gym, your core muscles work harder, it’s a natural stress reliever and it’s more enjoyable and stimulating too.
Wonderfully, you can come here for workshops on wildlife vegetable gardening, how to set up an inner city wildlife garden and sustainable gardening with Catherine Farr, an artist and former teacher who manages the farm’s community garden.
Catherine also offers private or group art classes in the community garden shed on request – book a life drawing session with a nude model or a general painting, drawing or mixed media session. She generally works from observation, painting the landscape, animals and still life.
The farm is surrounded by ancient woodland, and Martin and MaryAnn work closely with the Kent Wildlife Trust to maintain and enrich the habitat and keep their meadows and woodland as natural and diverse as possible, so this is a great place to commune with nature. Your host are delighted to guide walks through the local woodland, or you can go alone to Fairyland, the name Martin and Maryann have given a secluded area of the woodland where sunlight often glimmers through the trees and creates a magical atmosphere.
This makes a perfect escape for Londoners – it’s a 10 minute taxi ride from Ashford International Station which is only 38 minutes from St. Pancras. Abandon all preconceptions and go with the flow. Best not to stick to a rigid timetable – instead allow the weather and animal feeding times to dictate your activities and mood.
If the sun’s out, that’s the time for a walk, or if it’s chilly, warm up in the sauna. They have lots of wellies and fleeces to borrow so you can pack lightly.
When to Go
Any time. It’s like visiting friends for a weekend and there will always be something to entertain the children, whether it’s lambs being born, chicks hatching or bluebells carpeting the woods in a shimmering haze.
Spring is an especially good time, when the woods are starred with tiny pink and white wood anemones. Later they shimmer with bluebells. In the late spring there are special evenings of listening to the nightingales with ornithologists and folk singers.
If you stay in the house you eat with the family – in the mornings you help yourself to breakfast in the sunny breakfast room one side of the kitchen but at night you may eat in the more formal dining room. Breakfast and lunch is always included, dinner costs £15 for two courses.
If you stay in the barn, you eat there, enjoying having meals cooked for you on the yoga retreats but otherwise self-catering (or you can arrange for a private chef). The barn’s big open plan area includes the kitchen and dining area with a dining table that can seat 18, and there’s a range cooker, American-style fridge/freezer and two dishwashers as well as a barbecue outside.
Vegetarian and vegan food is served on the yoga retreats, so a typical meal might include lentil dahl, vegetable soup or risotto with lots of salads consisting of home-grown produce.
Throughout the year Martin and Maryann also offer vegetarian, fish and meat options which include their own pork sausages, home-cured bacon, lamb chops (from their own lambs) or cottage pie with their own Aberdeen Angus beef. Bread is always homemade and organic and vegetables and salads their own. Wine is always available too at an extra cost.
The garden and nature: Martin and Maryann are recyclers and their commitment to cutting back on the amount of plastic they use is admirable. Everything possible is composted and most bits and pieces others would throw away are recycled and used to build and add to their Community Wildlife Garden. Crops are rotated to ensure diversity.
Catherine Farr, artist and former teacher, manages the Community Garden and runs workshops on wildlife vegetable gardening, how to set up an inner city wildlife garden and sustainable gardening, which focuses on re-using rather than just traditional recycling.
The House: The house is a Grade II listed Kent Hall House dating back to the 15th century but when it came to restoring it Maryann and Martin insured that it was as sustainable as possible. They insulated the roof and walls, removing tiles and tile hangings to do so. They put in underfloor heating and installed a ground source heat pump to provide all central heating and hot water as well as a solar panel to generate their electricity. Grey water comes from the old Victorian well that they restored. There are log burners in both the barn and the house, with logs sourced from their own woodland.
Giving back: They’ve also started a charitable foundation which brings inner-city and disadvantaged kids to Green Farm so that they have an opportunity to be active outside in the fresh air and understand where their food comes from. Deprived families from Hackney camp in the woods and learn to plant seeds, cook on a camp fire and share food. Apprentices and part-time workers in the Garden are vulnerable adults.
Green Farm, Church Lane, Shadoxhurst, Near Ashford, Kent TN26 1LS
Ashford International Station
Transfer Time: 20 minutes