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Thyme To Relax

We Explore This Sustainable Hotel and Spa Nestled Away In The Cotswolds

Quintessentially British With An Eco-Friendly Flair

Who knew such a sustainable antidote to modern day stress could be found in the English countryside? We chat to Caryn Hibbert, founder and creative director of Thyme hotel and space, to find out all there is to know about the unique ‘village within a village’ retreat that couldn’t be a more perfect destination to unwind over Easter Weekend, and to see which REV pieces we’d pack!

To start, can you introduce Thyme to our followers. How has Thyme been a long term project? What were you doing beforehand?

 

Thyme is part of the Southrop Manor Estate, our family home. At its heart are the magnificent historic farm buildings which, together with my wonderful father, we have gradually restored over the past 20 years. The barns are surrounded by the estates collection of village houses, cottages, gardens and farm which form the “village within as village” that is Thyme.  Thyme has grown organically and started with the cookery school. From those small beginnings, it has become much more than a place, but a way of living with these ancient buildings continuing to work with the land as they were originally intended. For me, Thyme is so much more than the bricks and mortar – it is a working community of chefs, gardeners and hosts which make it truly special. I am so happy to have my son Charlie leading the team in the Ox Barn as head chef and my daughter Camilla has also just joined the team to help with the retail development (yes, very excitingly our shop will be opening in early summer!)

Talk a little about the Thyme mission, centered around its sustainable ethos

 

 Thyme is really an extension of our home. I wanted it to be led by the land and the seasons, an extension of our way of English country living. It is of course a family story led by our passion for the land, food and entertaining, merged with our love of local heritage, beauty and conservation.

I would like it to be place which instills a love of nature, has an enriching and lasting impression on our guests that also raises environmental thoughtfulness and awareness.

Silk Robe
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Dry Body Oil
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What drove you to opening Thyme? How was sustainability part of your life before? 

 

The natural beauty of the Cotswold’s was the overriding attraction that drew me to Southrop.  My dream was for our children to grow up immersed in the English countryside and, being so accessible to London meant that Southrop ticked all the boxes. As a child I grew up with home grown vegetables and gardens to explore, so continuing that for my family was my ambition. I also come from an entrepreneurial family so keeping true to the working buildings of the estate and creating a business that was sustainable and close to our hearts was incredibly fulfilling.

"As a child I grew up with home grown vegetables and gardens to explore, so continuing that for my family was my ambition."

How has Thyme become a family project? You describe Thyme as ‘a village within a village.’

 

 My father and I worked together to restore the Tithe Barn combining our interest in architecture, conservation, technology and design which was very rewarding. Having a third generation involved with my son, Charlie Hibbert as Head Chef in the Ox Barn is a dream come true. Food and entertaining have always been an integral part of our family and we love working together to showcase our “love of the land”.  The rest of the family are very much on board too with my daughter Camilla joining the team to help with the retail, my husband helping with drawing the maps and wine tasting (!) and my middle son helps to inspire us all with his critical eye and clever thoughtfulness, whilst busy pursuing a career in the city.

Chestnut Tee
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Leather Tote
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On a greater scale, how has Thyme impacted its environment? How do you hope it will continue to do so? 

 

Our farm and garden provide as much produce as possible for our seasonal restaurant menus, supplemented with carefully selected produce from like-minded suppliers. We continue developing polices that will ensure healthy, sustainable food is produced in ways that conserve natural resources.  However, ensuring our environmental impact is a positive one, goes beyond food production. We source from suppliers with minimal packaging, recycling what little is consumed. The Meadow Spa is chemical-free – including our pure water swimming pool – with products from probiotic skincare partner, Aurelia. When restoring the agricultural buildings that make up the hotel, cookery school and guest spaces at Thyme, we wanted to ensure they were energy-efficient, despite the constraints of listed buildings. We embraced new, green technology such as insulation, ecological heating systems and water saving and integrated them into centuries-old buildings.

"The water meadows and river banks are carefully managed as wild spaces to encourage native flora & fauna to flourish and thrive."

Importantly, Thyme has evolved organically and with an understanding that the project of conserving the buildings is about sustainability – not only preserving the past but more importantly, securing the future. The footprint we leave on the Cotswold landscape – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – is key, we are particularly proud of the work we do in protecting the biodiversity of our 150 acre estate, being conscious of and preserving the natural environment.  The water meadows and river banks are carefully managed as wild spaces to encourage native flora & fauna to flourish and thrive. Together they support a diverse ecosystem of wild flowers, otters, kingfishers, egrets & water voles, to name but a few.

Laure Skirt
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Sana Jardin
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"We recycle and compost as much as we can as well as trying hard to eliminate all single use plastic."

We recycle and compost as much as we can as well as trying hard to eliminate all single use plastic.  We line our bins with brown paper bags, we use straw straws in the bar, eco-friendly cleaning products and refill our bathroom amenities so there are no wasted bottles. That said, there is always more to do and currently we are investigating an anaerobic digester for our plate waste so that too will produce compost for next year’s crops. We also have another exciting project in the pipeline so do watch this space!

What does sustainability mean to you?

 

Sustainability means building things that will last and respecting the circle of life. Understanding that everything is complicated, that it is vital we consider the whole picture and to embrace and explore the facts, knowing that things are often not as straight forward as they might seem.  Sometimes it is the lesser of two evils that is the right solution and we should never be afraid of open debate and always prepared to learn and to accept that we might be wrong. Learning from other diverse experiences, embracing complicated solutions that might be right for one but not for others is key and to continue learning from the beliefs and experiences of others.

"Sustainability means building things that will last and respecting the circle of life."