A really relaxing and enjoyable stay in a hotel is not necessarily governed by the star rating. However, you can be assured when the hotel has five key elements in place: The staff members are welcoming and personable without being intrusive. When you wake up in the morning you know where you are; that is reflected in the room or suite by being individually furnished. The hotel is owned by a family or individual so it is not the boring, corporate standard product. Last, but no means least is the chef’s menu is exciting and the dishes accomplished. The Eastbury Hotel is in a quiet location in the historic central area of the lively town of Sherborne in Dorset. The town has ‘new’ and old castles, an abbey, individual shops and a great atmosphere which invites you to explore. Nearby are some of the National Trusts’ trophy houses, for those with a more engineering or mechanical interest, there is the Haynes Motor Museum and the Fleet Air Arm Museum.
The hotelier is Peter de Savary who has owned and developed over 70 hotels and clubs from Skibo Castle (remember Madonna and Guy Richie’s wedding?) to the Mount Cinnamon Resort in Grenada. Always a keen yachtsman, Peter has also owned many yachts and was a challenger in the Americas’ Cup. We have seen three of his very successful step-changing series of pavilions, all different; the Lodges at Bovey Castle, the misnamed Beach Huts at the Cary Arms, both in Devon and now the Potting Shed Suites which are described below.
The Eastbury Hotel is a charming boutique hotel set within a delightful walled garden and the overall atmosphere of the townhouse is one of a place of elegant comfort, whether it is one of the intimate sitting rooms, a child's’ games room, the bar or the library.
The pleasure starts with booking your suites or rooms as there is a delectable choice, you can talk it through when you call. A bit of a surprise that honeymooners frequently choose the premier ‘Eastbury Suite’ which has rather masculine undertones. For us, a more romantic suite is the ‘Lily Suite’ which is the next one down on the website. It is good that we all have our favourites.
The newly built cluster of five ‘Potting Shed Suites’ fit discreetly into the beautifully designed planting in the garden, it has matured well since the website photographs were taken. The idea was to complement the really rather elegant rooms in the old building with something a little bit different; and, it works very well indeed.
All of the Potting Sheds have set their own style and are well ahead of both the ‘glamping’ offerings and those on a similar theme from two highly fashionable small chains. Each one has a comfortable feel both in looks and physical aspects. Potting sheds are traditionally thought of as being cramped with all the clutter and relatively dark, these are the opposite. Instead of the windows facing the garden, they have cleverly created an intimate private patio between the fully glazed wall with its tri-folding doors and the old garden wall which has weathered to create a mellow background. We sat out in our own private garden room with a glass of the complimentary home-made sloe gin with a biscuit from the jar.
A touch of ‘shabby-chic ‘ may be fashionable but that does not detract from the quality of the finishes and specification; the mirror/television is a good touch and the Smeg fridge set the tone better. There is an en suite wet room with generous soft towels all providing an opulent atmosphere worthy of the smartest accommodation which we have become accustomed to being attributable to Peter de Savary’s hostelries.
It would be a rare occasion when visitors do not smile when they see in a small wooded area the very intimate spa building; it is straight out of a fairy tale - think Hobbit. It was designed as a private experience for just a couple or perhaps a small group. Whilst it might be small, it nevertheless has a hydrotherapy pool, sauna, couples’ steam room, two treatment rooms and an outdoor hot tub. We would have loved to have had time to experience a massage but perhaps another time.
The icing on the cake of this delightful treasure of an hotel was the discovery that The Seasons restaurant’s head chef is a former BBC Masterchef The Professionals and Roux Scholarship finalist, Matt Street, a local extremely talented chap. Not only is he charming but his food is imaginative, delicious and right up there with some of the most esteemed restaurants in the country. Our dinner was amazingly good value at £50 for the Tasting menu or £75 with the accompanying wine flight.
Bonnie is a Chef junkie and Matt has been added to her Wall of Fame! A true honour…..
The Eastbury is the perfect place for a weekend break as everything is not only on your doorstep and once you have parked your car in the private car park, you do not even have to leave this charming hotel unless you really wish. You can indulge yourself in the magic little spa and eat some of the finest food, sit in a beautiful little garden or if it is winter sit in one of the cosy sitting rooms by an open fire. Perfect