© Ella Ling

Net detail

Review: lawn tennis in the English countryside


Babington House, Somerset, England.

Why go?
Someone once described this as “the boho-luxe country bolthole of choice for London at play”, and you can see what was meant by that, even while thinking that language seems a little de trop. Three hours from London, or 20 minutes from Bath, Babington House in Somerset is the original country house which still doesn’t want to grow up and actually be a country house (it is part of the Soho House group). As they put it on their own website, this is “for those who want to enjoy the countryside but aren’t prepared to compromise on their urban luxuries”. It’s also for those who want to enjoy their tennis, as there are decent facilities here, with one flood-lit hard court and four grass courts.

Go in the summer, get lucky with the weather, and there are few better places to enjoy your tennis in England. Expect a mix of Metropolitans, Sloanes, trendies and recreational tennis players. This is the country without too much tweed, mud or sheep s— (when I went, we only ventured out of the grounds once the whole weekend, for a quick drink at the pub in the village). Enjoy the food, the drink, the spa, the people-watching, the tennis.

Other facilities
Inside, there is a heated pool, spa, gym, steam room, aroma room, sauna, cinema. Outside, in the 18 acres of land around the manor house, you will find the tennis courts, a cricket pitch, a croquet lawn, a walled garden, a heated pool, a lake and a private church (play tennis in the morning, get married in the afternoon). Anyone who has ever eaten at Soho House or the Electric will know to expect a high standard of hospitality. There is free creche for children 12 months and older.

There are 32 rooms, ranging from suites to split-level mini-houses, which are ideal for families. Prices start from approximately 300 pounds a night.