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Dec 6, 2019 | Design

The Newt is an English idyll created by Babylonstoren’s founders

Babylonstoren has become an iconic lifestyle and design destination. Famous for its staggeringly beautiful grounds and farm-to-fork philosophy, it’s also beloved for its holistic approach and incredible lifestyle offering. So when the news broke that Karen Roos – style doyenne and founder of this veritable Garden of Eden – had a new venture in the UK, fans were lining up to visit. Masterminded by Roos and her partner business mogul Koos Bekker the project was years in the making.

The Newt – named after an endangered species of newt found during the design process which was carefully and sensitively relocated – is a heritage hotel situated in Grade II-listed Hadspen House (once the family home of the Hobhouses, one member of which was an avid gardener and plantswoman) on a sweeping estate in Somerset.

While the historic mansion, which has been cleverly updated to bring it up to hotel standards, and refreshed with Roos’ inimitable touch, is impressive in its own right, it’s really the grounds and the lifestyle package that will bring visitors in their droves.

With gardens conceptualised by landscape architect Patrice Taravella – the same talent responsible for Babylonstoren’s immaculate layout and design – the garden built onto the appeal of the already awe-inspiring estate with features that celebrate the location, the showpiece of which is a tribute to Somerset in the form of a walled apple garden (the original parabola garden of the property) planted with 267 different varieties of apple, labelled and laid out in regions. ‘We try to celebrate the local. Babylonstoren is about mountains, wine, the Spice Route and subtropical fruit. Somerset is about cows in meadows producing milk for cheddar cheese, about apple orchards that turn into cider and about woods of oak and beech. We tried to capture some of that,’ says Roos.

It’s not just the planting that foregrounds local heritage and produce. With a cider cellar, woodlands, a herd of buffalo producing milk, a spa, café and deli, the property is a tribute to its surroundings and a veritable country idyll that perfectly showcases Roos’ contextually driven design eye and passion for detail.


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