Muddy reviews: The Eastbury Hotel, Sherborne, Dorset
Fancy a trip to Dorset? We know just the spot to base yourself. Muddy's Rachel McLoughlin beds in to the newly revamped Eastbury Hotel, Sherborne.
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, I’m not complaining. I’ve snuck off – with my husband whom I graciously allowed to come along – for a minibreak at The Eastbury Hotel in Sherborne, north-west Dorset.
Having been a fan of Broadchurch (well, David Tennant) and the glorious scenery of Chesil Beach and the Jurassic Coast, we decided to see what Dorset had to offer. Believe it or not, neither of us had visited the county previously.
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, the county’s ancient capital. There’s lots of change afoot, with five more bedrooms (Victorian potting shed in style ,with modern eco-friendly sedum roofs) and a spa due to open soon. Meanwhile the conservatory restaurant, Seasons, has two AA rosettes and is pursuing a third.
A classic English hotel – there’s a croquet lawn, for starters. A short stroll through the pretty cottage style ,walled gardens leads you to 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.
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.
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.
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 was also 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.
On the way home, we stopped off at the Haynes Motor Museum, which showcases a huge range of sports cars and is just 15 minutes drive from the hotel.
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 £195 3 course dinner for two with wine is around £100.
The Eastbury Hotel, Long Street, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 3BY. Tel: 01935 813131.