New at The Newt

WORDS Sarah Buitendach

Frankly, it’s almost impossible to choose between The Farmyard suites and The Gate Lodge, both recently added to this heavenly British hotel and estate.

Babylonstoren is a South African treasure. And in the UK’s glorious county of Somerset, her more recently established sibling The Newt is something to celebrate too. This working estate, with its cider apple orchards, spectacular gardens and hotel, opened in 2019, quickly becoming a favourite among guests in search of beauty, top design and good food in a space with serious provenance.

Hadspen, the original manor house and the site of the estate’s first hotel rooms, dates back to the 17th century. The Newt team, under the exacting eye of South African owner and creative doyenne Karen Roos, recently also opened a Romano-British villa experience, inspired by the discovery of a settlement from 351 AD on the property.

Not content to rest on their lovely-looking laurels, the team have now added two other accommodation options – and here, VISI delves into these delightful digs.

The Farmyard

Once the dairy on the 1 000-acre estate, it now features 17 rooms dotted across the original farmhouse and working barns. The development is set in a hidden valley beyond the orchards, just under a kilometre from Hadspen. It was designed to be a little more relaxed than the manor house; as The Newt team put it, “The bar is a little rowdier, the boots muddier and the all-day kitchen alive with wood-fired cooking that’s made for sharing.”

Architect Richard Parr transformed the 18th-century farmstead buildings, creating fresh but sympathetically updated structures and spaces. They share the materials of the wider estate, including the characteristic honey- coloured Hadspen stone from a nearby quarry, Blue Lias, Cornish slate, forest marble, oak and glass.

Karen, meanwhile, took inspiration from the complex’s agricultural origins for its interiors, and looked to literary works, including Thomas Hardy’s 1874 classic Far From The Madding Crowd, to get a sense of the area’s history. As in the original hotel, each room has been individually designed, with extensive use of English materials and craft throughout.

The result is a subtle marriage of the past and the present. Cobblestone floors and original fireplaces sit alongside blackened-bronze bathroom fittings and crisp panelling. A shard of warm light falls across a clean-lined four-poster bed, while an old portrait looks out at a bay window seat and the farmyard beyond. Who wouldn’t want to escape to this laid-back yet elegant spot?

The Gate Lodge

For those who want the stately magic of the main hotel but also fancy a bit of seclusion, there is the new Gate Lodge. This private dwelling is the first of its type on the estate and, as the name suggests, was the original gatehouse to Hadspen. Like the manor house, the cottage is playful and charming, only it’s been created in miniature and with details reimagined for a smaller space.

The Gate Lodge features two bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, living area and open-plan kitchen. Karen has carefully fashioned the property to feel intimate and elegant. Splendid red and flesh-pink fabrics pop against muted sage-green walls designed by Farrow & Ball; tiny portraits hang next to oversized armoires; and a warm wooden table and benches beckon a family to gather over farm produce that’s been turned into a glorious meal.

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