Woodland and glamour. They’ve literally been made bedfellows at a unique country hideaway in North Yorkshire.
The magic of the woodland with some real campfire chic has been brought to life by cool couple Christian and Carolyn Van Outersterp.
They rented a woodland, as you do, and having made a success of their first foray into posh camping with the Jollydays glamping site near York, they’ve toned down the bunting side of things to get serious with rustic to create the North Star Club, a ‘magical woodland retreat’ on the outskirts of York.
Forget all thoughts of shivering in draughty huts. Think of being wrapped in fur throws watching the flicker of firelight cast against a copper bath. Candles shimmering and a massage waiting.
Yes, you’re in the Canadian wilderness. That’s the concept Christian and Carolyn want to deliver with this extra special project. Those outdoorsy, romantic veranda moments of the Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons.
For the couple, North Star Club is the culmination of their 15-year dream to create the quintessential woodland retreat.
The Club is inspired by Christian’s North American heritage and his Canadian grandmother’s tales of the American Great Camps – rustic, wilderness retreats, more akin to woodland hotels, which were built for wealthy industrialists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The couple wanted to recreate the magic of these camps, in a rugged Yorkshire setting – and the result is a serene and indulgent escape from the pressures of 21st century life.
That hectic way of life is something they know well. The Van Outersterps are award-winning designers, (Christian a former landscape architect and Carolyn trained in fashion). They’re best known for having revolutionised the contemporary fireplace market with the iconic Firebowl (exhibited at the V&A) and creating CVO Firevault, a unique restaurant bar in central London which gained a cult following.
It’s 12 years since they swapped urban life to start Jollydays Glamping with a bunting-filled woodland camp complete with four-poster beds in safari-style vintage tents.
They are passionate advocates of country life – they live on the edge of the North York Moors with their four children, two dozen hens and Binny the Border terrier.
This new project creates a soothing retreat for their glampers who have grown up a bit. Maybe their kids have flown the nest so a holiday means luxury and pampering surroundings rather than getting stuck in to mud or marshmallows round the campfire.
“We were among the first people to do ‘glamping’, this site ramps that up a notch bringing boutique hotel style to the woodland and the USPs for this site is it’s open all year round, except Christmas week, so that’s different to Jollydays too.”
Carolyn has had some fun with the interiors of the woodland suites.
They are named after famous and fascinating Yorkshire people, from painter Atkinson Grimshaw to heroic pilot Amy Johnson.
“She was a heroic pilot who was lost on a dangerous wartime mission, a feisty lady renowned for her glamour and daring nature but was also the first woman to qualify as a ground engineer. The suite exudes her unique and personal style of ‘rough glamour’, says Carolyn.
There are eight woodland suites and others include Rose representing the White Rose of Yorkshire.
“The rose is still to be found everywhere in Yorkshire and this peaceful, romantic suite is a symphony of soft, chalky shades of white”, adds Carolyn.
Inspired by the famous Yorkshire poet and stylish eccentric, Dame Edith Sitwell – a baronet’s daughter descended from the Plantagenets, her named suite reflects her dapper aristocratic bohemian style with the necessary collection of books to dip into.
The suites all have a cosy sitting room, large bedroom with a wood burner and comfy kingsize bed and spacious bathroom. Rose and Howard also boast deep copper baths.
Comfort comes in the form of cosy warmth, layers of textures and plenty of ‘rustic-luxe’.
So you can hunker down in your own space but also make the expedition to The Woodshed, a communal relaxation space where you can snuggle up with a book by the fire and help yourself to tea, coffee and homemade cake – outside there’s a canopied campfire, perfect for chilling and stargazing in all weathers.
North Star Club is in a great part of the country, nestled into the Yorkshire Wolds, in what’s become known as “Hockney country”, where artist David Hockney has created some of his most famous work.
The woodland is just outside the village of Sancton with an award-winning pub, The Star.
Foodies will be beating a path to some other tasty neighbours. The ‘local’ is Michelin-starred Pipe and Glass and Drewtons, a farm shop five minutes’ drive from the club, serves breakfast, lunch and afternoon teas, much sourced from the Drewton Estate or their network of local farmers.
The town of Beverley is packed with nice galleries, shops and eating places, among them Ogino, a modern Japanese restaurant that’s a bit of a speakeasy.