A Closer Look At Birch Hotel, The Next-Generation Escape With A ‘Less Is More’ Charm
Staycations have firmly been on the rise this last year, and with it a drive to create a more unique experience and next-generation escape. Enter Birch: a hotel and members club sitting just thirty minutes outside of London amongst 55 acres of nature. Conceptualised by the former Managing Director of the Ace Hotel London and designed by Shoreditch-based studio Red Deer, the property is more than just a place to rest your head. In their very own words: “Birch looks like a hotel, feels like a festival”.
Housed within an old Georgian manor, the exterior’s red brick facade is the sort of stately welcome one would expect from a Grade II-listed building. Alongside 140 guestrooms, there’s a co-working space; a pottery studio hosting arts and crafts workshops; music and arts studios; a gaming room; a screening room; and – the latest addition – a summer-ready lido sitting within the old walled gardens.
“The property is more than just a place to rest your head. In their own words: “Birch looks like a hotel, feels like a festival””
The most important aspect of a hotel, however, after the guestrooms is undeniably it’s dining outlets, and Birch, of course, delivers with an interactive bakery and two on-site restaurants, headed by renowned chef Robin Gill. For these ventures, Gill has been working with farmer Tom Morphew to grow produce on-site to be used in the kitchens. The Zebra Riding Club promises fuss-free dishes designed for sharing in a feasting fashion, whilst the all-day eatery Valeries opts for uncomplicated fare such as meat and fish cooked on a grill and sourdough flat breads baked in a wood-fired oven.
For the hotel’s design, Red Deer approached the project with a vision to challenge wastefulness and uniformity. Inspired by the resourcefulness of the past, where old estates would manage their resources and land holistically, the hotel utilises its environments as much as possible – from estate-made decor to home-grown produce in the restaurants. Embracing a less-is-more appeal, the interiors reveal raw details from the existing structure that have been repaired and restored creatively, rather than being replaced. Furniture has been stripped back to create more thoughtful spaces; for example the guestrooms, which are void of TVs and desks, eradicating the stresses of day-to-day life.
“Inspired by the resourcefulness of the past, where old estates would manage their resources and land holistically, the hotel utilises its environments as much as possible – from estate-made decor to home-grown produce in the restaurants.”
In communal areas, commissioned artworks adorn the walls, whilst elsewhere, the building’s impressive foundations have been laid bare and original paintings are uncovered on the ceilings to create effortless focal points. Red Deer felt inspired by the Japanese art of Kintsugi, wherein broken ceramics are mended with liquid gold, to bring a new lease of life to items that would otherwise be discarded. Floorboards that were hidden under old carpet were found stained with white paint from a previous renovation, and rather than covering the marks, the designers embraced their uniqueness, evolving them as decorative features in the room.
“We wanted to take a light touch on the existing features and celebrate the Georgian building,” says Ciarán O’Brien, co-founder of Red Deer. “The building created a really strong backdrop, so we looked at each space from the point of what already existed.”
“We wanted to take a light touch on the existing features and celebrate the Georgian building,” says Ciarán O’Brien, co-founder of Red Deer. “The building created a really strong backdrop, so we looked at each space from the point of what already existed.” With this refreshing approach to the design, the history of the existing structure has been honoured, without leaving it feeling dated. The whole property, rather, feels utterly contemporary. With its conscious ethos, wellness facilities and rich cultural programme, it’s worth remembering Birch the next time you feel fatigued with city living.
Listing image: © Inna Kostukovsky
Images throughout: © Adam Firman