Sherborne is one of those places that reminds visitors of the Midsomer TV series (without the murders we hasten to add!). Local shops advertise clubs and societies long since forgotten from other places looking to attract a less genteel Instagram crowd. The number of functioning independent shops is impressive given the “high street anywhere” feel of other similar semi-rural locations, and the communitie’s promotion of local produce is perhaps a slight nod to the current focus on food miles and sustainability reflecting the towns way of straying into the modern era.
At the heart of this town is the award-winning majestic Eastbury Hotel. Winning Gold for Restaurant and Accommodation in the latest Taste of the West awards, the hotel restaurant was also voted the Best Hotel Restaurant in Dorset magazine’s annual awards. Now catering for weddings, baby showers and other family events in addition to private dining for up to 60 people, this former 1920s gentleman’s home has been lovingly restored by the current owners,Peter and Lana de Savary. The Georgian red-brick facade hides a lovingly transformed interior that caters for the more discerning customer. The manicured walled-garden behind the hotel is a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of modern life. The quietness and sense of being away from it all is enough to tempt guests to enjoy a drink on the terrace whilst admiring the view and watching the tiny birds flying to and from the birdfeeder.
Dragging yourself away from the hotel can be a struggle but worth it to view the two local castles which are a five minute drive and the magnificent Abbey, founded in AD705, which is 10-minutes away on foot. Further afield is Stonehenge which is a 45 minute drive. For the younger guests, Monkeyworld is under an hour away with the Fleet Air Arm Museum only 15 minutes down the road; the latter currently displaying fixed wing aircraft exhibits, including Concorde and the Aircraft Carrier Experience.
There are 22 rooms and suites available, from £195 per night B&B, which have all been tastefully designed and even include some lovely touches such as the decanter of slow-gin if a nightcap is required. In the room the hotel provides home-made cookies, a robe and slippers, a selection of teas, coffees and hot chocolates plus White Company toiletries in the bathroom. Some of the rooms are dog-friendly should your four-legged friend fancy a sleepover.
Food & drink
The hotel’s award-winning 2 AA Rosette conservatory restaurant “Seasons” is run by Chef, Matthew Street, who has been with the Eastbury for over 14 years. Growing up in North Cheriton, Somerset, Matthew worked locally and developed his culinary skills to the extent that he reached the quarter finals on BBC MasterChef Professionals. He was also a finalist in the prestigious Roux Scholarship.
Breakfast is a joy with a large selection of hot and cold foods to suit all diets. Pastries, fruits and cheeses are on the buffet table and off the menu specials such as Severn & Wye smoked salmon and scrambled egg. Not to be missed is the Dorset cooked breakfast.
Renowned for top class ingredients and with a seasonal ethos running through everything that comes out of the kitchen, the menu highlights include wild garlic soup with fresh herbs from the garden being used whenever possible. The menu also offers three small plates for £10. The delicious Venison & Old Winchester cheese arancini with truffle and mayonnaise is one of the three meals advertised; which allows those that have a lighter appetite to not miss out on the food experience on offer in the restaurant. Save space for dessert which includes olive oil cake with Dorset honey and buttermilk and rosemary ice cream. The restaurant also offers afternoon teas, a taster menu plus a children’s menu if the visit is a family affair.
As an additional quirk, there is also a separate dining pod in the garden if a private dining experience is required.
The Eastbury’s cocktail lounge is where guests can enjoy an aperitif, cocktail or one of the many fine wines chosen by the owners. Take the opportunity to try their Espresso Martini or one of the local gins.
Opening Late Summer 2019 will be a magical Woodland Spa tucked into a leafy corner of the garden as well as five new Potting Shed Garden Suites. The quirky and enchanting Spa building – built from local stone and complete with sedum and moss roof and a circular doorway – will house a boutique Spa, consisting of two treatment rooms (including a couples room), a hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam room, exercise area and private relaxation space. The Potting Shed Garden Suites have been imagined to offer guests the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the glorious hotel gardens. The stylish new dog-friendly suites will take inspiration from traditional English Victorian Potting Sheds and will be located discreetly within the landscaping of the garden whilst preserving the integrity of the historical brick garden wall. Private terraces, fire pits, sedum roofs and tasteful and creative de Savary interiors will complete a bucolic experience rarely available within a hotel.