Living Etc

Birch, Hertfordsh­ire

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This intriguing new venue in countrysid­e just 30 minutes outside of London is hard to define. Though it has bedrooms, it is not quite a hotel. You can become a member, but it’s not really a club. The founders ask us to think of it as an escape from the stresses of modern life and urban living, and, looking at the long list of activities and pursuits on offer when you’re there, it could be just the place to unwind. Learn to throw in the pottery studio, discover the art of foraging in the garden, pick up a brush in an art class or an instrument in the music room and get your hands messy in the interactiv­e bakery. And when you exhaust all that, head to one of the bars for a refreshing cocktail or retire to one of the chic, understate­d bedrooms designed to restore a sense of calm.

IN THE KNOW

Eat Robin Gill’s nature-inspired food at The Zebra Riding Club, one of several dining rooms on site.

Try the regularly changing programme of events at Birch, from beekeeping classes and woodcarvin­g to guided meditation­s.

Book it Double rooms from £240 a night (birchcommu­nity.com).

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