The Eastbury Hotel & Spa, Sherborne
This classic English hotel has a 2 AA rosette restaurant and luxury rooms, with a quirky spherical dining pod and a woodland spa in its pretty walled gardens
There’s something quite decadent about sitting in a jacuzzi bath surrounded by White Company beauty booty and a glass of sloe gin at 4.45pm on a Friday afternoon but, hey, Rachel from Muddy HQ isn’t complaining. She snuck off – with her husband whom she graciously allowed to come along – for a weekend at The Eastbury Hotel & Spa in Sherborne, north-west Dorset.
The 21 bedroom Georgian townhouse hotel and restaurant, acquired in February 2018 by dynamic veteran hotelier Peter de Savary, is in the heart of this thriving town.
They’ve recently added five more bedrooms (Victorian potting shed in style, with modern eco-friendly sedum roofs). Meanwhile the conservatory restaurant, Seasons, has two AA rosettes and is pursuing a third.
And there’s the brand new Eastbury Spa by Amelia Rose & Caudalie, set in a wooded area in the gardens, with sauna, steam room, hot tub, mini gym, hydrotherapy pool, relaxation area with wood-burner and full range of Caudalie treatments. Nice.
A classic English hotel – there’s a croquet lawn, for starters. A short stroll through the pretty cottage style, walled gardens leads you to the reception and a well-appointed sitting room. Interiors-wise, we’re talking traditional elegance but there’s a peppering of quirkiness , with the modern private dining pod at the top of the garden – we noted a couple tucking in to breakfast here, with their Labrador tucked up alongside them. It’s very dog-friendly, by the way.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Seasons has charming views over the gardens and croquet lawn and an accomplished chef in Matthew Street, local lad and one-time Masterchef: The Professionals finalist. It was a lovely spot to while away a Friday evening.
After revving up with a vast Aperol Spritz, I heroically tackled three courses plus a mouth-watering amuse bouche. Matthew’s menu is innovative, combining traditional favourites such as rump of lamb and rib eye steak with contemporary additions that included carpaccio of octopus and poached salmon with a prawn dumpling, pak choi and a moreish coconut broth. The food is definitely a fine dining experience and there’s a competitively priced 7-course tasting menu with accompanying wine flight if you wanted to push the boat out. The atmosphere in the restaurant is relatively quiet, but that reflected the clientele on the night we visited.
I can confirm the Vale of Camelot cheese brûlée was hip-wideningly delicious. We then both opted for seafood for mains and It’s the first time I’ve seen my husband defeated by a portion of battered fish and chips, but this one, fresh off the fishing boat at Durdle Door, was enormous.
Despite this, we still managed to share a beautifully presented caramel and banana slice, before rounding off the evening with a large Armagnac in the bar.
And after eight hours in a food coma, I returned to scoff the full Dorset English the next morning, which was also pitch perfect.
Our generous and romantic suite had vaulted ceilings, a huge four poster bed and a private courtyard garden – the ideal spot to partake in a sundowner. The bedrooms and suites are named after trees and plants , each having its own unique and identity. Attention to detail was excellent: Nespresso machine, delicious homemade cookies, high quality Egyptian cotton bed linen and bathrobe and slippers all present and correct. And the bed was impeccably comfy – I slept better than I had in months.
There are family suites and a children’s menu (£9.50 for two courses) so nippers are very much welcome. That said, I’d urge you to slip away for a child-free break, if you have the choice. The hotel has a serene, grown-up feel and there weren’t any small people in residence during our stay.
OUT & ABOUT
Plenty to do locally. Sherborne Abbey sits in a commanding position in the centre of the town and dates back to the early 700s. There’s a good selection of antiques shops and boutiques to browse before dinner.
Sherborne Castle and Gardens are a leisurely 20-minute stroll from the hotel and we enjoyed a walk through the gorgeous grounds, designed by Capability Brown.
Just 15 minutes drive away from the hotel is one of the world’s best collections of cars and other vehicles at the Haynes Motor Museum.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Couples looking for a romantic break and seriously good food that would match any London restaurant. Or if you’re looking for a stopover en route to Devon or Cornwall, it’s worth a look.
Not for: Hipsters and design snobs – this is a trad, unpretentious, small-town English hotel.
The damage: B&B from £150. 3-course dinner for two with wine is around £100.
MARCH & APRIL OFFER
Treat yourselves to their Spring Dorset Tasting Getaway: a 7-course tasting menu and one or two night’s stay for two. Throughout March, Sun –Thurs £240; Fri & Sat £290 (extra night £165 per room, per night (B&B). Throughout April, Sun –Thurs £255; Fri & Sat £295 (extra night £175 per room, per night (B&B). You must book direct.
The Eastbury Hotel, Long Street, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 3BY. Tel: 01935 813131.