Stylist’s Phil Hilton enjoys the stunning scenery of Suffolk from the comfort of a beautifully restored former cartshed
The Cartshed delivers the countryside the way most of us secretly like it; through enormous windows. Thanks to this newly restored barn’s two floor-to-ceiling walls of glass, you can stand in your thick, wintry socks warmed by under-floor heating, holding a glass of heavy red and enjoy trees bent by winds and sheep barely able to stand in sheets of rain. You feel somehow that you’re on one of those long walks everyone claims to like in Guardian Soulmates. But your long walks are across the spacious lounge/kitchen to whack on some more Beyoncé and have another shot at the world cheese-eating record.
Situated on the Sibton Park country estate in east Suffolk, this beautifully restored property was originally storage for five horse carts – the architects have kept the rustic, weathered timber look but installed sliding panoramic windows where the farm vehicles would once have been, along with one of those hangingfrom- the-ceiling wood-burning stoves and a proper, big telly. The Cartshed has four bedrooms and – importantly – four bathrooms. This means sophisticated, adult couples can go truly bananas and never have to see each other in tracksuit bottoms and baggy T-shirts bumbling to the loo in the early hours. The neighbours are sufficiently distant for Bey to achieve required party volume (and for people to attempt the dance).
Outside, ingenious landscapers have used a hidden, sunken fence to create a barrier between The Cartshed fields and the neighbouring greenery. A trench has been dug separating the part where the humans hang out and the animals wander, so you have the illusion of looking out on an unbroken expanse of organic beauty. But you never have to step in anything smelly and gigantic when you skip to your car for more Manchego.
If you do feel the need to leave the property and explore, you will find yourself in some of the most second-home-fantasy-inducing spots in Europe. If you’ve never been to Walberswick, it’s a tiny beach-side village with a green and some thatch and two woody gastro pubs. It looks like it was built by rom-com set-designers who’ve never heard of Grime or Tesco Metro. Walberswick is 20 minutes’ drive from The Cartshed. Even closer is Darsham – visit Darsham Nurseries (darshamnurseries.co.uk) – yes it’s a garden centre but in this case it doesn’t serve exhausted quiche and those giant choc-chip cookies; it serves fresh, modern, gourmet everything to a standard that would please even the most poncey Soho-ish diner.
Then go back to The Cartshed. Go back and stand by the windows. Wear some North Face for atmos if you fancy and feel at one with smelly, muddy nature while still nodding to the bass on Partition.
Stays at The Cartshed start at £75 per person per night (£595 per night, sleeping eight); wildernessreserve.com