The Luxury Destination For Staycations, Rentals & Second Homes
The Luxury Destination For Staycations, Rentals & Second Homes

The Luxury Destination For Staycations, Rentals & Second Homes

If you’re after a waterside staycation with unrivalled facilities just an hour and a half from London, The Lakes by Yoo – a private estate of second homes (and rentals) set on an 850-acre estate in the Cotswolds – is the place to know. Founded in 2008 by John Hitchcox, today it's a well-established, family-friendly community that, as the site has grown, has gone from strength to strength. We spoke to the founder about what to expect from a visit and what makes the estate special…
By Sherri Andrew

Where Did The Idea For The Lakes Come From?

I moved out to the country many years ago and struggled to find somewhere that was suitable for the kids. I wanted somewhere where they could relax and explore the great outdoors and where I would be able to meet likeminded people. That sparked the idea to build a new community. From the start, I knew The Lakes had to be easy to get to, low maintenance and offer plenty of activities for families and friends.

Can You Tell Us About The Estate And Its Environment? 

Just a 90-minute drive from London, the estate is set across 850 acres of land with 11 lakes, 500,000 trees and 70 houses. We rewilded over 200 acres and now have a conservation programme to develop the various microsystems. Sustainability is a big focus for us, so we have lots of measures in place to limit our environmental impact, like eco-ponds, heat exchangers, solar panels, electric car points and a mini farm comprised of rescued animals, including 60 chickens. We were recently designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Who Is Your Typical Guest?

Most of our guests and second-home owners are from London and have an international outlook – the community is comprised of over 30 nationalities. Our customers are community-oriented and want to be surrounded by a vibrant ecosystem. We liked the idea of creating the country experience without all the faff where the fire is lit and the fridge is full – plus, all the entertainment is easy and accessible.

What’s The Vibe Like?

It’s really very relaxed and pretty family focused. There’s always something fun going on and we have various events that happen throughout the year. We also have a car club, as a few of us have invested in some classic cars, as well as a new art club where residents can learn about investing in art. Guests can also look forward to regular music events – Natalie Imbruglia came and sang in the teepee restaurant the other day.

What Activities Can Families Take Part In?

There’s an activity tower with a lakeside zipwire, high ropes, a climbing wall and a trapeze. You can also use paddleboards on the lakes and book guided nature walks to learn about the estate. Our pool has great teachers for kids, while other sports facilities include two tennis courts, a full-size cricket net, a golf practice net, football goals and a jogging trim trail with outdoor gym equipment.

Is There A Kids’ Club?

There is masses for children to do. Little explorers aged four and above are kept entertained in the school holidays with guided activities on the estate and workshops like bushcraft, woodworking, arts and crafts and raft building. There is also archery, clip and climb, a zip wire, sailing, canoeing, biking, tennis, cricket nets and football. It's a pretty extensive list!  

What Are The Options To Buy Or Rent?

Our homes are designed as second properties. You can’t sign up your kids to the local school for example, but we have lots of families who spend most of the year here. There’s a wide range of second-home options available, from two-bedroom lakeside cabins to larger lake houses with private land. The properties hold their value well – we’ve averaged 10% growth since we started which is above the national average. We continue to invest in the quality of the estate and we’re continually expanding. We also manage the majority of the houses so owners can rent them out when they’re not there. The properties start from £1.6m.

And For Guests Who Want A Staycation?

Hotel guests can choose from rooms, apartments and cabins. Some are tailored to couples while others are for families. There are smaller ‘Cosy’ rooms, larger garden rooms, one- and three-bedroom apartments, and lakeside cabins. Groups can also book bigger lodges for special trips. The Beach House, for example, sleeps up to 12 across six bedrooms with an outdoor patio with a BBQ and pizza oven. Rooms start from about £300pn.

What’s The Restaurant Like?

Unpretentious and tasty. The Lakes Bar & Restaurant is open to residents, guests and external visitors. It’s a relaxed and popular spot which serves brunch, lunch and dinner. You can order pizzas, fish and chips, and other crowd-pleasing dishes – and there’s a separate kids’ menu. The bar is chilled, the cocktails are good and we hope to have some more live music in the coming months.

Can You Tell Us About The New Spa?

We’ve just launched The Lakes Spa & Wellness Centre and have partnered with some exciting brands including Cosmoss (the wellness brand by Kate Moss), Dr Barbara SturmMoss of the Isles and Wildsmith Skin. The space is all about longevity, with programmes to strengthen the immune system and build resilience. Facilities include an indoor pool, an infrared sauna, outdoor relaxation areas, treatment rooms (for facials, body massages etc.), a gym and a studio for yoga and other classes.

What’s Going On In The Surrounding Area?

The Cotswolds is extremely beautiful and there’s a lot to explore. Southrop and Bibury are nearby, as is Thyme, Daylesford and Soho Farmhouse. You’ll find lots of lovely pubs – The Swan in Southrop is one of my favourites. A lot of people take our bikes out to discover the surrounding area.

Finally, What’s Next For The Estate?

We’re working on Cotswolds Waters, an extension of The Lakes. It will have the same community feel of The Lakes. Apartments will start from £750,000 and houses start at £2m.

Need To Hear More? Here’s What Our CEO & Founder Georgie Said After She Went To Stay…

“I have been to The Lakes by Yoo a few times now and it just gets better and better. There is more and more to do and as my children have gotten older and grown out of kids’ clubs, it's become a place our whole family love. It’s extremely safe and secure and the children can roam free on bikes and play in the playground while we go for a run or have a glass of wine by the water. If the weather is rubbish, there's also an indoor pool, a gym and lots of great local places to go!” – Georgie Coleridge Cole

To book a stay or find out more about second-home properties, visit

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