That I’m writing this on yet another plane makes this all the more heart-felt; I really love this concept. I had lunch with friend and ex-colleague, Jon Hughes recently and he rather proudly showed me this recent addition to his home. Jon and Sarah are lucky enough to live in a secluded old farmhouse set in tranquil countryside yet only ten minutes from Thames Valley Park and the heart of the UK’s Thames Silicon Valley. Their recent project has been to convert one of their barns into a self-contained cottage aimed not at holiday-makers but at jaded business travelers. It’s not a big, corporate hotel – all elegant foyers and marble receptionists – not even a pseudo-hotel of "executive suites"; it’s an airy yet cosy, traditional yet contemporarily chic home. Downstairs, aside from the stone Buddha, there is an open fire, a big cosy sofa, a big cosy flat screen TV and a big cosy trolley laden with big cosy bottles of big cozy drinks (and you don’t need to mortgage your soul for a miniature of gin and 27g of stale peanuts). There’s also a fully-fitted kitchen so that you can either eat well in the local pub or resort to homely beans-on-toast – either way a welcome break from the tyranny of room-service and email. The bedroom is a gallery overlooking the lounge, the fireplace and, beyond, gentle green paddocks and hedgerows.
So, if only I wasn’t based in the UK and traveling away, Westley Mill Barn would definitely be on my list and I’d happily sacrifice a night of Hilton or Starwood points for a breath of calm, relaxed reality.
And I don’t even get commission.