The Downs family go under the spotlight!

Poppy and Chris Downs created Hygee at Vallum by designing modern and contemporary cabins which are situated in the beautiful countryside of Northumberland on Hadrian’s Wall. The cabins are fully equipped with renewable eco-friendly biomass electric heating, a full kitchen, luxury bathrooms, a living area and decking.

​Their aim is to create a place where guests can unwind in luxury within nature. A place to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life with a balanced combination of tranquillity and adventure whilst visiting Northumberland.  

Where did the idea come from for the Hygge huts?

We had spent the previous 10 years living and travelling around Australia and nearby countries.  During our travels various places we had stayed and their accommodation styles inspired us to create something similar when we moved back to the UK.  On our return to the UK we started the process straight away for planning permission and submitted a tourism grant application. The construction then started back in March 2022 and completed in September 2022.

What has been the most rewarding part of the project?

The most rewarding part of the project has been the feedback we have received from our guests. It’s lovely that people are able to enjoy the special part of the world we live in, all from the comfort of our luxury cabins.

And what has been the most challenging part of the project?

The most challenging part was the construction time restrictions. The tourism grant imposed a deadline which meant we had to complete all four cabins within 5 months from delivery of the materials. It was really tight, but we manged to achieve the deadline due to lots of early mornings and late nights.

What further changes do you see in the future?

We aim to design an experience that will encourage repeat customers. We would like to make it a place people are desperate to come back to, therefore this summer and autumn we will be developing the outdoor areas, with hot tubs in two of the cabins and outdoor cooking facilities being either a BBQ or pizza oven, we are yet to decide!

What interests do you have outside of the business?

Having lived in a warm climate, child free, we did lots of outdoor hobbies – Tennis, golf, surfing (although we are yet to have a go in the North Sea!!)

However, since moving back and having 2 kids, these hobbies have been parked for the time being, but we love being outside as a family, dog walking Jaffa our crazy vizsla, gardening and trips to the beach!

If you could invite (any) 3 people to dinner, who would it be and why?

  • My grandad (Chris’ family) who sadly passed before I was born. I hear he was a legend!
  • Monty Don- we are big gardening enthusiasts, and he is the Goat!
  • Kevin McCloud- Help inspire and design the next Vallum holiday cabins!

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to yourself before you started the project?

We wouldn’t limit ourselves to four cabins and we would potentially have created some two bedroom cabins too!

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