Is Stay One Degree the Chicest Staycation in the UK?
Ditch the air miles and holiday in home-grown eco luxury with Stay One Degree, says Sofia Tindall
Here’s how my day begins: I get up, stretch and slink out of bed into a bath big enough for two overlooking the gilded, rolling Devon hills. From there, it’s on to an invigorating Pilates session with the instructor Jennifer in the open-plan living area against a panoramic, wraparound glass wall backdrop. To top it all off, a private chef prepares avocado, kimchi and spinach bagel with a local Borough farm-fresh egg for breakfast in the vast granite kitchen.
I’m not Gwyneth Paltrow or a secret millionaire (although now that I’m experiencing how the other half live, I’m beginning to wish I was), I’m spending the weekend with Stay One Degree at one of their luxurious eco-rentals in rural Devon. Based on the degree-of-separation rule, Stay One Degree are billed as ‘the trusted members club for luxury travellers’. Think Airbnb: but more luxurious with each member has been thoroughly vetted, and each property hand-picked through a rigorous selection process. Fancy a stay in a Scottish castle or Alpine ski chalet? You’ll find some swoon-inducing properties on their books (some even with home cinemas and tennis courts). Equally, if you’re thinking about ditching the air miles and going for a more eco-friendly staycation this is the way forward.
The Beach House
The Beach House, on the sandy fringes of Woolacombe Bay, is just one example of where you could stay. Just a two-hour train journey and short taxi ride from London Paddington, it’s a marvel of modern architecture rising from the ground in steel and glass, overflowing with LA-cool edge. The award-winning interior features poured concrete floors and a Shou Sugi Ban wall (burnt Japanese wood). A hanging fireplace in the cavernous, glass-walled sitting room is the ideal place to hunker down as it blows a west-country tempest outdoors, with dramatic, far-reaching views of the countryside.
Feeling more adventurous? The coastal village of Woolacombe is as a short, blustery walk from the property with plenty on offer for surf and watersports enthusiasts. Through Stay One Degree, you can even book your own private chef experience. Local brother-and-sister team, Jim Coslett and Beth Newsome of Seadog provide a palate-enchanting menu made with locally sourced ingredients like seaweed bhaji. And if you’re so inclined, a boozy gin fizz to round off the day in the hot tub, steam rising in the air and west country fields sprawling out around.
Come Sunday it’s a rocky, 46-mile drive further up the coast to stay at the Tree House. Perched high above rolling fields, this Grand Designs House of the Year finalist has been designed to be at one with its natural surroundings, with some impressive eco-credentials: heating is generated from a smart geothermal pond system, electricity from solar panels and water comes from the natural springs in the fields. An incredible, origami-esque structure with geometric walls rising from the floor in pale woods, each of the four bedrooms are wrapped in soothing, Scandi palettes. The piece-de-resistance master bedroom boasts a bath the exact shape of a hollowed-out egg.
After a long hard day of relaxing in the cosy living area, stomping through local Exmoor National Park or maybe a trip to the local village pub for a Devon cider and beer battered haddock (the Swan in Bampton with Michelin-starred head chef Olivier Certain is an excellent choice), it’s back to a cosy, comfortable cabin on the lower ground level, or a vast master bedroom to snooze it all off.
Recharged, rejuvenated and revitalised after a weekend stay, by Monday morning I’m ready to head back to London life. Add that to the lack of air miles, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more eco-friendly, retaining top-tier luxury. And if you’re thinking about renting out your own home, it couldn’t be in a safer pair of hands: at the heart of Stay One Degree, members look after the properties as if they’re their own treasured second homes.
Banish all thoughts of caravans and camping: leaving your passports at home and renting in the west country just got seriously glamorous.
Stay One Degree offers The Beach House from £495 per night (sleeps 10) and Tree House from £560 per night (sleeps 11). stayonedegree.com