Review: The Lakes by Yoo

Sometimes it’s just great to escape the city to rest and recharge. And, if you don’t have the hassle of travelling too far, or taking a flight, it’s even better. Just an hour and a half from London and easily reached from most of the UK with good road and rail links nearly, The Lakes by YOO is an ideal choice.

Nestled in an exclusive, gated-access only, 850-acre sustainable estate in the Cotswolds it’s a peaceful, private haven of beautifully crafted cabins, apartments and homes – all fronting a number of picturesque lakes.

With a choice of 1 to multi-bedroom cabins and apartments to choose from, it’s the perfect place for couples wanting a romantic break, families of all sizes and groups of friends, or even close colleagues too. All can enjoy time and treatments at the onsite spa with good sized indoor pool, an on-site café perfect for lake-side lattes, and a host of activities from paddleboarding to wildlife walks and plenty in between. It really is an idyllic retreat.

For our stay, we enjoyed one of the Grand Suites, a 3-bedroom apartment on the smaller Marley Lake costing from around £1,000 a night depending on time of year. These are within small 3 story blocks, conveniently very close to the main amenities – spa and also the coffee shop/restaurant.

On entering, you’re immediately struck with the glorious views from the floor to ceiling glass window and sliding door that fronts each apartment and open to a large balcony with dining and comfy seating areas. The perfect place to sit out at sun setting across the lake with a glass or three of champagne, and listen to the birds singing, and the cute ducks paddle by. Absolutely glorious.

The hallway leads to the main living open-plan space with a dining area one side, a kitchen area to the other and a lovely lounge space with wood burner with views out to the balcony and lake below. All are individually styled and ours was a treat – incredibly tasteful throughout and had a real home from home feel to it.

There are three good sized bedrooms, each with their own spacious bathroom and doors to a balcony too. The master looks out to the lake and the other two, the surrounding woodland. All are cosy, luxurious and comfortable, with just the sounds of ducks, geese and songbirds to pleasantly disturb. We stayed for just two nights, but honestly would have loved to extend this to at least a week.

Everything has been thought of too, to make your stay as convenient and comfortable as possible. From a super welcome pack of eggs freshly laid by hens on the estate, to cake, locally produced smoked trout, jams, pastries and breads and juices, milk and a bottle of bubbly. Each day the breakfast items of your choice are delivered direct to your door.

In terms of dining, you can order in, or take the 5-minute walk to Elsa’s, where you can enjoy dishes of the day cooked to order. The local area has a number of posh gastro pubs and restaurants and we took the opportunity for lunch at the excellent The Fox at Oddington , A 19th century inn with crackling log fires and a menu which celebrates local producers including its sister farms at Daylesford Organic and Wootton. We enjoyed a lovely lunch with views out to the pretty walled garden.

To work off our lunch we headed back to The Lakes for a long walk around the estate, through pretty woodland and lush wildflower rich meadows, an orchard and area with cute chickens and goats. It’s evident that sustainability is at the heart of everything they do at The Lakes, from the farm animals that have all been rescued, to rewilding, where areas of the estate are left to develop naturally and were guests and residents can enjoy its beauty and reconnect with nature.

The Lakes at YOO’s founder, John Hitchcox’s original vision was a Swallows and Amazons-style natural playground, somewhere safe for children to play, explore and build dens in the woods and they’ve never deviated from that plan. They maintain the estate in a highly natural way, and have planted around 500,000 trees, chipping any trees that come down to use the bark around the estate. Every September they even harvest the green tips on the yew trees beside The Spa and send them off to make life-saving cancer medication. These are just a few of the initiatives that contribute to their impressive sustainable vision.

If a short break isn’t enough, you can purchase homes on the estate. Founder John Hitchcox told us since Covid and the resulting staycation boom, demand for properties at The Lakes by YOO has been consistently high. To meet this demand, they’ve partnered with Cygnet Investments to develop a neighbouring estate called The Lakes by YOO at Cotswolds Waters.

This will be is a new luxury development that will comprise 77 houses and 63 apartments – a really attractive proposition for buyers, as it is likely to be the last chance to buy a lakeside property on an estate of this kind in the country. Demand is high and all of Phase 1 has sold out recently.

Being just 90 minutes from West London gives families a quick and accessible option to escape the city for a weekend, or for longer during school holiday breaks. With hybrid working now also the norm, many residents use their properties as a place to both work and relax, making the estate even more vibrant during the week.

Most homes at The Lakes have been sold, however The Lakes recently launched 9 new bespoke Cabin properties featuring 2 bedrooms in a lakeside setting and 18 new apartments. There are usually a small number of existing houses being offered for sale by current owners, although these are in high demand, attracting wealthy city families to buy as an important lifestyle investment.

Pricing at the main estate starts at £1.5m. Of the 180 private homes on the estate, around twenty are available to rent for holidays or short breaks and start at £8,000 per week.

Over the past 15 years, the plot prices along with the re-sale market have both seen incredible capital growth. They are now averaging approx. £1,000 per sq ft across the estate. They originally began selling the homes at The Lakes for roughly £600,000 all in (plot and build). That equivalent house now would be priced at roughly £3m. Growth has also occurred on the rental rates. The apartments and houses now start at approx. £1,000 per night, which is at least 70% more than when they first began renting homes at the Lakes.

The price for a 2-bedroom apartment at The Lakes by YOO at Cotswolds Waters starts at £765,000. The 4- and 5-bedroom houses start at approximately £1.8m.

Works have already commenced, and the first properties will be available from 2023. Plans for the show home and show apartment are underway and it should be available soon.

By Lisa Curtiss

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