Given the way they’ve been depicted on TV for the last 30 years, it’s hardly surprising that country clubs are thought of as being only for stuffy old rich people, at least among my contemporaries.
When I was offered a one-night stay at Foxhills Club & Resort, I was curious to get a glimpse at how this perceived other half lives. I also expected, incorrectly and maybe a little unfairly, that my plus one and I would be the youngest people there by at least a decade or two.
However, I am here to tell you that actually, country clubs can be fun for youthful, vivacious scamps like you and me, especially in the post-lockdown staycation boom we’re experiencing.
Whether you’re tentative about travelling abroad or trying to stay off planes to minimise your carbon footprint, a country club like Foxhills is definitely worth a look in. But there are a couple of caveats.
Let’s start with the price. At Foxhills – which is a 15-minute drive away from Woking Station, give or take – rooms with breakfast included start at £180 a night. I can’t speak to the cost of memberships because, as one representative told me, the prices vary to the point that it’s their policy to not advertise them.
While arguably not as budget-friendly a room as some of the other options out there, as my plus one pointed out from experience, you could have found yourself paying £100 just to stay the night in a Travelodge in Cornwall this summer. So in my opinion, given that the rooms are sizeable and comfy, and you get access to all the sports and leisure facilities for that price, it evens out a bit.
Said sports and leisure facilities include multiple pools – both indoor and outdoor – a sizeable gym, cycle studio, games room, tennis courts, a yoga hut and various fitness classes.
There’s also a spa (you can book spa breaks which get you access to the previously mentioned facilities) a crèche and two 18 hole championship golf courses, but using those is not included in the price of a room.
With three dining areas to choose from, meals can drive the price tag up a bit. Mains start at £16.50 in Foxhills’ The Fox dining rooms, but to be fair, the food is delicious. There are also more affordable options – at Nineteen, mains start at £6.50 for a sandwich and crisps, and Flo’s, which is located in their new building, The Pavillion, is much more like a café in both vibe and price.
Another caveat is that, due to the nature of country clubs, it really helps if you’re into fitness in some capacity.
Foxhills isn’t one of those places where ‘wellness’ lurks around every corner – the food is too indulgent for that – nor is it a place for people craving wild hedonistic excitement. Rather it’s a place where it’s really easy to switch off, treat yourself, and exercise in a way that makes you happy.
Something I particularly enjoyed was the fact that one of the outdoor heated pools was not five feet from the room we stayed in, so I could pop out for quick little swims on the tiniest whim.
Billed as a team-building activity, we were able to try a game of croquet which, along with our very patient teacher and a healthy amount of Pimm’s, I’d seriously recommend, especially if you’re a fan of mini-golf – it’s both harder and more fun than it looks.
I’d have loved to stay a couple more nights, so I could do things like take a big walk around parts of the huge 400-acre grounds and try a couple classes in their yoga hut. If you’re into that sort of thing, and you have the budget for it, a stay of at least a few days would be my recommendation.
If you feel like stretching your legs off the grounds at any point, you can get a handy direct train to Waterloo from Woking that takes about 25 minutes, and getting from Woking to Clapham Junction by train takes around half an hour.
If you’d like to explore Woking, there’s a healthy amount of pubs dotted around, and the Woking Shopping Centre, which, along with the much-loved Lightbox gallery and museum, isn’t far from the station. I’d recommend getting to Woking by car/cab instead of public transport, as getting the bus includes a 30-minute walk.
My final caveat is that we were able to enjoy Foxhills at what I suspect was its very best, with the sun shining enough to justify lounging by the pool with a book in a bikini – one of the finest past-times this world has to offer.
While there are plenty of things to keep yourself entertained indoors, and I’d be interested to see what Foxhills is like during the winter, having the weather on our side made the ‘stay’ part of the cation feel almost irrelevant.
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