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Review: The Eastbury Hotel & Spa, Sherborne

The Georgian townhouse hotel's self-contained 17th century cottage offers the best of both worlds: all the facilities of the hotel – 2 AA rosette restaurant, walled gardens, spa - and the flexibility of being in your own pad.

THE LOWDOWN

The Eastbury Hotel & Spa, in the historic market town of Sherborne, is a bit of a tardis. Behind the elegant facade of the Georgian townhouse hotel not only lie 26 rooms and suites, a 2 AA rosette restaurant, gorgeous walled gardens, a peaceful spa but also a beautifully renovated – self-contained – 17th century cottage with a private garden and heavenly hot tub.

THE VIBE

We’re talking classic country hotel at this Peter de Savary owned establishment. The decor is predominantly traditional English – nothing to scare the horses here – comfort and service are both at a premium. Nothing is too much trouble for the staff and the place is peppered with thoughtful little touches to make your stay special, like a table set up ready for a game of chess.

The animal print carpet in the cocktail lounge adds a dash of glamour.

Love the charming hand-painted signs on the doors.

The award-winning Seasons restaurant overlooks the garden from a conservatory but there’s a private dining room too.

Come into the (walled) garden, Maud.

They’re rather lovely, with a terrace, beautiful blooms, a lawn with meandering paths and games galore. Game of croquet, anyone?

A bit Barbarella, don’t you think?

The veg patch supplies the kitchen.

THE COTTAGE

The self-contained No 2 Eastbury Cottage is packed with original features – delightfully wonky floors and door frames, oak beams and muskets over the fireplace – and has had a modern makeover, creating a comfy hideaway for up to six adults and a couple of kids.

The well-equipped kitchen comes with an Nespresso coffee maker, a fridge stocked with a bottle of Provencal rosé, milk, butter and chilled water plus a welcome hamper.

When you’re not eating in your dining room, there are Monopoly, puzzles, backgammon ludo – and Alexa – to keep you company.

The gorgeous sitting room has a classic inglenook fireplace, wood-burner and super comfy sofas but you can still Netflix and chill.

Another nice touch: complimentary sloe gin.

It’s a real home-from (rather lovely) home.

No probs if you’ve forgotten a book to read.

The cottage has three large double bedrooms, each with its own contemporary bathroom. Our – huge – room had a gorgeous claw foot bathtub on a wooden platform at one end, a super king bed at the other and a proper dressing table with vanity mirror where you can imagine you’re a Hardy heroine (although they never fared well I seem to recall).

The proper walk-in rain forest shower is big enough to share but you get your own waffle gowns and fluffy towels. Those are White Company toiletries you can see.

The other bedrooms are lovely too.

Kids will love sleeping in bunk beds in a separate little outbuilding.

The cottage has its own garden and terrace with outdoor dining, a BBQ and planters filled with herbs ready for you to use in your cooking.

The private wood-fired tub is glorious! A piece of cake to get going for those confident with wood-burners – just ask the hotel staff for guidance if you’re not – we over-stoked it so had to wait ’til the morning to achieve the perfect temperature.

THE SPA

Hidden away at the end of the gardens is the spa, where Molly gave us wonderful 30-min back, neck and shoulders aromatherapy massages using lavender and geranium essential oils *sigh*. You can have the whole thermal suite – exclusive use of spa facilities, a hydrotherapy tub, outside jacuzzi hot tub, jacuzzi shower, sauna and a mini gym – to yourself if you like.

SCOFF & QUAFF

You can cook up dinner in the Cottage but why would you when the hotel’s award-winning (2 AA rosettes, Taste of the West Gold) Seasons restaurant, located in a conservatory overlooking the lovely gardens, is right next door? Naturally, the chef strives to use the wonderful seasonal produce of the area (and their own garden). We couldn’t wait to dive in.

The beetroot cured sea trout gravalax starter with pickled cucumber and horseradish was smoky and piquant.

The pressed ham hock and confit rabbit with apple sauce and toasted brioche was equally delicious.

The menu always includes a market fish of the day. On our visit, it was a beautifully cooked plaice with purple spouting broccoli, tagliatelle, brown shrimp, lemon and white wine cream.

Maize-fed chicken with wild garlic, new potatoes, shallots and chorizo was a lovely combination of comforting flavours.

To accompany? A crisp Oude Kaap Chenin Blanc. Parfait!

For dessert, the dark Tanzanian chocolate mousse, with coffee and passion fruit cream was rich and indulgent (and why not?).

A taste of the tropics in Dorset: mango pannacotta with mango jelly, sorbet and blueberry compote.

We ate breakfast in the hotel the next morning, helping ourselves to pastries and cereal, followed by simple yet scrumptious scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.

OUT AND ABOUT

You can easily while away a few hours just wandering around the pretty streets of Sherborne (voted the number one place to live in Dorset in our Best Places to Live in Dorset).

Check out the independent shops and cafes down Cheap Street and a few roads off to the sides. Sherborne Abbey often has concerts.

There are two castles: the 12th century ruin Sherborne Old Castle and the ‘new’ Elizabethan Sherborne Castle and the annual medieval Pack Monday Fair in the Autumn is well worth a visit. For more info, see our mini Muddy guide to Sheborne.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for:  Groups of friends, a family reunion or hen party looking for a base (you can hire the billiard room for up to 10 people). Travelling with your pooch: dog friendly double rooms and Victorian Garden Potting Shed suites come with doggy welcome packs and treats.

Not for: People who want trendy or ultra modern. This is a traditional place with contemporary additions.

The damage: Starters £6-12; mains £18-30; desserts £7-9. The Cottage is a three-night minimum stay. £600 per night (1 Nov to 31 March) and £800 per night (1 April to 31 October). Hotel room rates: double rooms from £235-£410 depending on room type.

The Eastbury Hotel & Spa, Long St, Sherborne DT9 3BY. Tel 01935 813131 theeastburyhotel.co.uk

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