Located just outside of London, Birch is a new breed of members’ club that will challenge the likes of Soho House. It has a farm, pottery workshop and hotel rooms with no TVs. Olivia Palamountain reports
Billed as an “intervention from the judgments, expectations and constraints of daily life,” Birch is the brainchild of Chris Penn (former managing director of the Ace Hotel London) and Chris King, a duo set on creating inspiring spaces that give people “the time and freedom to pause, think, create and savour”.
The first Birch outpost is planned to open this summer (there are more in the pipeline), in a grand period property set within 55 acres of nature, just 30 minutes north of London.The multi-purpose property offers 140 bedrooms, a growing farm, two restaurants and an interactive bakery. It will also house three bars, 20 event spaces, a co-working space, fitness studios, a lido, a pottery workshop, and screening, music and art rooms.
“Birch is a space for those living in cities to escape to. Whether you’re with us for a day or night, work or weekend, we want to leave you in a better place than when you found us,” says co-founder Chris King.
This philosophy is also evident in the design scheme. Inspired by the resourcefulness of the past, much of what you will see and experience has been repurposed and repaired from the site’s existing materials or has been produced by local artisans.
Produce at the Zebra Riding Club and Valerie’s restaurants are estate-grown, showcased in a menu of straightforward dishes that make the most of the seasons, while bedrooms celebrate the beauty of “less is more”, free from TVs and clutter.
At this members’ club, guests can enjoy a cultural programme of events, workshops and maker masterclasses, as well as a busy wellness schedule. They will also be encouraged to take part in impromptu workshops from the on-site butchers, bakers and pottery makers.Bucking the trend for exclusivity, Birch is about what you know, not who you know. There is no membership committee and anyone can become a member, with the first wave of memberships sold at £100 per month for an access all areas pass.
Membership also includes a free night’s stay and discounted room rates, while non-members are also welcome if they book a room, priced from a reasonable £150 per night.
Partners announced for Birch include chefs Robin Gill and Ben Rand, Full Circle Farm’s Tom Morphew, ceramicist Emma Louise Payne, sustainable material designer Charlotte Kidger, artist Lucie Naujalis, sommelier Bert Blaize and carpenter Jan Hendzel.
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