For a holiday destination that is focused on family-stays, it’s remarkably peaceful at Silverlake. The rural retreat, in the heart of Dorset, consists of a community of sustainable holiday homes perched around a series of lakes, ponds and heathland. While you might hear the occasion whoop of joy, as a child splashes in the pool, it’s more likely you’ll be enchanted by the chirp of a Woodlark or a Nightjar instead.
The sister development to the already-established Lower Mill Estate in the Cotswolds, the concept is appealing to those who want a touch of luxury from their UK home-from-home, while still keeping to a green philosophy. Both retreats have been brought to life by the family-run Habitat First Group, and have a focus on green infrastructure, conservation and sustainability.
There’s a variety of houses to bed down in – from lavish, Miami-style luxury properties, that would suit extended family holidays, to smaller cottage-like dwellings and you can book for short or long stays (for those looking for something more permanent, there are also a number of properties for sale). Cheetah’s Lodge, for instance, is a three-bedroom cosy home. With open-plan living, slick bathrooms and a contemporary kitchen – this is a modern version of the typical British cottage rental. The truth is, visit in the summer and you probably won’t be spending too much time indoors. Come winter, there’s a log-burner to keep you warm but still enough cold-weather pursuits to get you outside (visit in Autumnand watch out for the incredible Starling murmurations seen over the reedbeds).
The architecture of the houses is impressive – all use sustainable materials and finishes, with some having ground-breaking design by noted architects, with features such as sloped wildflower roofs, wrap-around decking and state-of-the-art construction. The highlight, however, is the central £3m Hurricane Spa – a cutting-edge building with roof-top terrace, heated outdoor pool, sauna, gym, library and a charming, glass-fronted lounge. Treatments are by Caudalie to perfectly match the natural ethos (for a truly blissed-out moment try the Vinoperfect Radiance Facial which uses essential oils and hot and cold basalt stones to get you glowing).
Indeed, it is being in the heart of such biodiverse and unspoilt nature that is Silverlake’s USP. Visitors are easily able to embrace the beauty with bicycles on tap, for all ages, so you can easily explore the hundreds of acres of wilderness. There’s also a zip-wire to whizz you over a wild-pond and an adventure playground for the little ones to blow off some steam. Tennis courts and a multi-use game area (MUGA) are also tempting, especially given the full box of equipment – meaning you can travel light with no need for a car full of racquets and balls. Paddle-boarding, sailing and kayaking are also available on one of the lakes, so be warned: if you are travelling with older kids – you won’t see them for a while.
While there is not a restaurant (yet), the roof-top spa terrace serves lunches, light snacks and drinks and there’s a pizza yurt at the weekends. House guests can also pre-order food and meal deliveries from a local company, although the joy of Silverlake’s location is, of course, getting out and about in Dorset itself. Close to Dorchester and Weymouth, it’s just a short drive from the glorious Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door – a must-do when staying here. Hardy country is dotted with quaint villages, country pubs and idyllic coves to explore – not to mention cream tea parlours to indulge in – perfect for a natural high.
Habitat Escapes offers a range of properties from two bedroom cottages to five bedroom villas. Stay at three bedroom property, Cheetah’s Retreat at Silverlake for four nights from £1,050 or seven nights from £1,400 inclusive of complimentary access to bikes, canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards. All properties are self-catering and some are dog-friendly. To book visit www.habitatescapes.com or contact 01285 869489
*This article was published in The Jewish Chronicle on 24 September 2019