The good life

Pomalo is the brainchild of Andrea Hilgers, who came up with the idea of creating a multitasking venue in the grounds of her beautiful home at Pembury Hall, which is perfect for curating and hosting specialist workshops, fun pop-ups, exclusive dinner parties and seasonal fairs. Eileen Leahy went along to discover more about this very special space and lifestyle concept…


It’s a drizzly chilly morning when I arrive at Pembury Hall, a grand 19th century country house that has been beautifully enhanced by its owners Andrea Hilgers and her husband Paul since they moved there in 2019.

I’m here in this pretty pastoral corner of Pembury to chat to Andrea, who is German, about how and why she came up with the clever idea of creating Pomalo, a multitasking space that can be hired out for specialist workshops, seasonal fairs, private dinners and immersive experiences.

Andrea Hilgers

As we head over to Pomalo HQ, I’m hugely impressed by the converted coach house outbuilding which is exquisitely decorated in soft earthy tones with sprinklings of Scandi chic and vintage French here and there. It is located in the pretty courtyard of Pembury Hall and looks just as inviting in real life as it does on the Pomalo website and Instagram account.

Andrea explains that it was moving to Pembury Hall with her three children and husband from Amsterdam that sparked the initial idea to create such a convivial space and overall lifestyle concept.

“In 2019, we moved to the beautiful Kent countryside after having lived in Amsterdam for a while. Prior to that we had been living in Sydney but we wanted to move somewhere much quieter where we could all slow down a little bit and reconnect.

“Being expats you are always moving around and therefore for us it’s always been about building a community wherever we go. When we moved to Pembury Hall we’d never had a house this big so the plan was to open it up to others and to create a community around it.”

But then, within a few months, the pandemic had hit and suddenly the family found themselves totally isolated.

“Lockdown was quite lonely as we had only recently moved here. We hadn’t quite settled and didn’t really have any time to make any connections,” explains Andrea. “But it did give us the opportunity to work on the house, convert the stables and bring the gardens back to life. I’ve always had a strong connection to nature, and when we discovered Pembury Hall I found it to be a place to restore my energy, unwind and feed my soul.”

As we chat and sip coffee in the main Pomalo hub, which can be hired out for private dining, photo shoots and pop-up fairs and so much more, Andrea tells me that as well as wanting to bring like-minded people together to enjoy sharing knowledge, ideas and holistic experiences she believes that in addition to curating a community in this way, good food is another great conduit to connecting people.

“As well as the specialist workshops and seasonal fairs, I wanted Pomalo to have a foodie angle too as I am passionate about food. I trained at Leith’s, and did lots of online courses during lockdown and I recently achieved a diploma at Le Cordon Bleu so cooking is something I like to share at Pomalo. Hosting and cooking are what I love to do.” There is a fully equipped catering kitchen located at Pomalo which Andrea opens up for the regular pop-ups she welcomes.

“I’ve always wanted to run my own café so doing this allows me to indulge that dream a little bit,” she laughs.

Andrea then adds that the pop-up events she hosts with the likes of the Faded Shed and Whist eco candles are already achieving what they set out to do.

“They are community building; our neighbours visit, people from Pembury come along and it’s lovely to see people sitting and chatting and having coffee.”

The most recent one was a spring fair last month which also saw creatives and makers including Atelier Chocolates, Darling & Wild florists and Monica Pepper interiors selling their wares.

The specialist workshops Andrea hosts are run twice a month and so far have included themes such as how to dress your table beautifully, courtesy of Sarah Coleman from Beyond The Table, Christmas wreath making tutorials and a candle making session with Whist.

This month they include how to create stunning floral pots for summer by Andrea’s gardener Maxine Clement (now sold out) and a Metallics Masterclass with Reloved MCR’s Sarah Parmenter.

Andrea admits that she is constantly thinking about what to do next and reveals that supper clubs are something she is also trialling at Pomalo.

“We have chef Ben Sulston coming along on June 17 to host one – hopefully al fresco – which is exciting and we have another happening later in September.

“The aim of Pomalo is to put on events that celebrate the seasons and also nourish the body and mind,” she reveals.

On leaving this magical place, I’m pleased to say the weather has perked up immeasurably and the sun is shining brightly. I feel refreshed and happy. I guess that must be the Pomalo effect…

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