It’s 1998, London is swingin’ once again – the sound of Britpop fills the streets, Blair is building New Labour and construction on the Millennium Dome begins. And a 30-something food-obsessed entrepreneur has already made quite a name for himself in the city, with an impressive portfolio of restaurants and a forward-thinking members club in Soho for ‘creative souls’.

However, Nick Jones has even bigger plans. By taking the West End to the West Country and converting a Grade II-listed Georgian pile into a home-from-home for the creative set in Somerset, he shone a spotlight on a quiet corner of our country.

Jump-cut to 2018, Soho House & Co have conquered the world. Jones’s live-work-play-sleep concept has been much imitated, but never bettered, according to its 70,000 members. His revolutionary ethos to refined, yet relaxed high-end hospitality still holds dear with today’s discerning Barbour Brigade v2.0.

And, its original flagship hasn’t aged one bit over the last two decades. Tucked away down an avenue of trees, Babington House is the ultimate country house hotel.

Far from being a last century grand dame, it’s still a thoroughly modern madame. Not out to woo the world like her glitzy City slicker younger sister The Ned, she’s happy to relax in 18 acres of landscaped grounds with her mellow Bath stone glowing in the late evening light.

Indeed, this enclave of cool calm sophistication in the countryside is the perfect spot to feed body, mind and soul.

There are enough cultural activities to last a month of Sundays, peaceful corners for quiet reflection and it’s the home of the group’s original spa. A cow shed might seem an unlikely place to discover an award-winning range of bath, body and skincare products, but that’s exactly where it was born.

After enjoying the indoor/outdoor heated pools, tennis courts and fitness studio, it’s a welcome place to unwind.

With views extending over the lake, the lamp-lit Orangery is a delight to dine in.

Not chasing Michelin stars, the kitchen cooks with care using produce with provenance from their very own walled garden. The results are quite simply delicious. Combined with attentive service, it’s a wonderful way to end the day.

The solid brass keyring to my room is reassuringly weighty. Retiring to the converted Coach House, I’m delighted to find a bed as big as a boat with a hi-tech flat screen to match and a high-end mini bar capable of sinking an Armada. Needless to say, each of the 33 rooms are tastefully appointed with richly-patterned Morris wallpaper, salvaged furnishings and select vintage furniture.

The full complement of Cowshed’s natural product range is available to use in the walk-in rainforest shower or rock&roll roll-top bath.

I would advise not forgetting your toothbrush, but even that minor detail is amply catered for – just like everything else. In fact, one can dial 100 for anything morning, noon or night.

After a perfect night’s sleep, I head to the casual all-day Deli Bar to indulge in one of life’s little pleasures: people-watching over breakfast with my selected morning papers. For me, this really is the Full English experience. And, for Babington House’s loyal members and lucky guests it’s (in Nick Jones’ own words) “a way of life”.

In neighbouring boho Bruton, contemporary art gallery Hauser & Wirth hosts works by Richard Long and Jenny Holzer. And no visit to Durslade Farm is truly complete without enjoying an honest bite from chef Steve Horrell at award-winning Roth Bar & Grill. Housed in former outbuildings, it’s an ongoing installation in itself experienced as an everyday environment.

Described as Britain’s most ‘woke’ town, Frome has become the unlikely epicentre for the conscious hipster. It’s a small place that’s big on community – with quaint cobbled alleyways lined with quirky boutiques, ethical design stores and fair-trade cafes. Plus, a monthly artisan market that’s not to be missed.

Babington House may have paved the way, but this corner of Somerset is living up to its hip reputation too.

The facts:

  • Babington House in Somerset is part of the Soho House group, which also includes Soho Farmhouse at Great Tew, near Chipping Norton. For details of membership, go to
  • One night is never enough, and to celebrate its 20th birthday, Babington House is offering a third night for free when you book two together.