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Short stay: The Eastbury Hotel and Spa, Sherborne, Dorset, UK

The Victorian Garden Potting Shed Suites, five gloriously indulgent creations are the latest luxurious chapter in the history of a house which dates back to 1740. Under their sedum and moss living roof the suites are stylishly contemporary and eco-friendly. The Eastbury Hotel’s mature gardens, a West in Bloom award winner, featuring shelter-giving beech and yew trees, bring a country ambience to a town hotel. Matt Street, a former Masterchef professionals contestant has made the Seasons Restaurant a destination for foodies to tick off – and then to return again. The welcome Arrive by train, it’s just over two hours from London, and reception will send their polished 1964 Beardmore taxi to the station to pick you up. We are greeted and taken through the house to our suite. A decanter of sloe gin and an awaiting bottle of red wine make the welcome even warmer. The room Contemporary luxury presented through the style of a Victorian Garden Potting Shed was a daring concept. Exposed brick work, botanical prints, distressed wood on a chest of drawers and cooking-apple light green paintwork, all contribute to a relaxed style in a supremely peaceful garden setting. Experienced hotelier Peter de Savary has thought of everything: hot-water bottle, umbrella, ironing board, Alexa, wall-mounted television disguised as a wood-framed mirror, Nespresso coffee-maker, kettle and small Smeg fridge for fresh milk and cooled water. Between the brickwork of the original walled garden and our suite sits a sheltered patio. Garden chairs, table and fire pit are accessed by a tri-fold door. The bathroom Contemporary wet-room merges with potting shed chic to produce a bathroom where almost every box has been ticked – though there isn’t a bath. Potting-shed style shelves provide yards of storage room for the White Company “Flowers” toiletries and for guests own necessities. Nor have the flannels been forgotten. A potted plant symbolically links to the suite’s heritage. An old fashioned hanging flush chain for the toilet, now almost an endangered species, is a reminder of past times. The facilities Seasons restaurant has a reputation frequently recognised with gold in the annual Taste of the West awards. Currently there are three menus on offer. A seven course taster menu, the a la carte and a menu du jour of two or three courses. A successful taster menu should be both an education and a personal of introduction to the chef. From an expresso cup amuse bouche of cauliflower and truffle oil, served with sun-dried tomato bread and a perfect sphere of tomato butter topped by a stalk, the meal is an invitation to try some of Seasons’ other classics. Matt Street’s menu, using ingredients that rarely have anything other than a Dorset or Somerset postcode, travels the world. Truffled ricotta agnolotti with porcini broth and toasted pine nut takes us to Italy, harissa roasted lamb is distinctly Middle Eastern and one of the two desserts, coconut and lime leaf accompanied by passion fruit and dark chocolate brings cool Caribbean flavours to Dorset. Location Sherborne is a quiet but well-heeled market town, a location of honey-coloured stone and ancient bending black timbers just waiting to welcome filming of a Thomas Hardy novel. History is measured in centuries around these parts. The abbey has seen a millennium come and go, even the local school was founded before Elizabeth l was crowned. Few towns can boast two castles. This ancient capital of Dorset, is surrounded by National Trust and English Heritage Sites. Also it’s just over half an hour’s drive to Thomas Hardy’s birthplace near Dorchester and then not far to the Jurassic Coast. Other nice touches A glass-ceiling above the tub chairs in the Victorian Garden Potting Shed Suites gives guests a chance to star-gaze on clear evenings. By the secluded path to the spa, lattices of timbers provide an environmentally friendly bug hotel that is beginning to attract ladybirds. The Eastbury is exceptionally dog friendly. Some rooms come with comfy dog bed, bowls, treats and a squeaky dog toy. Doggy breakfast and doggy dinner are also provided. The cost Rooms begin from £206 and the hotel has been short-listed for the Conde Nast Johnansen 2022 awards in the Best Value Experience category. The tasting menu is £70 per head whilst the wine flight is £28. The best bit Behind what likes like a round door to a small Hobbit house, lies a Narnia of a spa. Though an external hot tub and wooden sun-loungers give clues to the interior. Two treatment rooms provide tables for aromatherapy, deep-tissue and Swedish massage. A hydrotherapy pool offers both relaxation and relief for aching muscles too. With a sauna for two and a dual jacuzzi shower it is an ideal treat on a couples short-break. And it houses a mini-gym too. The final verdict Location, location, location: a mere five-minute walk to a plethora of art galleries, antiques dealers, boutiques, cafes and independent shops. Country walks, fishing, golf, horse-riding and some of England’s most dramatic coastline are within a short drive. All of this within a beautiful Grade 2 listed house, with two AA rosette restaurant and immaculate service. Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by The Eastbury Hotel and Spa.

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a travel writer from Oxfordshire, UK. Although Michael had his first travel pieces published nearly four decades ago, he is still finding new luxury destinations to visit and write on.

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  1. Haven’t stayed at the Eastbury but I can thoroughly recommend Sherborne. It’s one of those towns that has clung on to all of its character and still gives its people and visitors everything they want.

  2. Nice to see such a clever and original design when too many hotels are bland blocks of squares and rectangles. The entrance to the spa is very clever, that must draw a lot of people in. The Eastbury looks to be a place that lovingly preserves the past but keeps moving forward at the same time.

  3. Friends haven’t stopped talking about The Eastbury since they went there for their 30th anniversary. It was probably before the potting sheds were built as they said they stayed in a room with a really old four poster bed. They loved it then and have always said they want to go back. Now that the new suites are there we might go a long with them on their next trip.

  4. When I look at the facade of The Eastbury Hotel I wonder if we’ve lost something with our architecture today. It is such a simple and elegant design.

    Using traditional bricks makes it reassuringly solid. I hope that The Eastbury’s owners continue to preserve it for future generations to appreciate too.

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