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Eastbury Hotel – relaxed luxury in a Victorian potting shed

Michael Edwards visits Eastbury Hotel in Dorset and enjoys the unusual luxury of a stay in a Victorian Garden Potting Shed Suite …

The Eastbury Hotel exterior

Only the spirit of Victorian gardening lives on at these contemporary luxury suites in the mature gardens of the Eastbury Hotel. Compost and seeds long gone, exposed brick and light paintwork recall past days. Witches’ broom and rake, mounted on the suite’s garden wall, salute a horticultural past.

Trifold doors to that private little garden, underfloor heating, a Nespresso coffeemaker and a flat-screen television – artfully disguised as a mirror – would make these suites unrecognisable to the Monty Dons and Alan Titchmarshs of the Victorian era. A glass ceiling positioned above two tub chairs encourages star-gazing on cloud-free nights.

Though, those gardeners from yesteryear, may have succumbed to the welcome decanter of sloe gin and a bottle of red wine. In which case the topiary might not have been clipped as precisely as it is nowadays, nor the croquet lawn as cosseted.

The Eastbury Hotel spa
Overhead the Hobbit-like spa suite.

Hidden away in the mature garden, the original house was built in 1740, these recently constructed suites are a quiet haven. It’s just a short walk to the spa. Looking like a Hobbit’s house, topped by a living roof of moss and sedum, behind the small door there are treatment rooms, a mini-gym, sauna and jacuzzi shower. A double hydrotherapy pool is a relaxing his and hers treat.

The majority of the 26 rooms are in the main hotel. All are named after plants and trees, amidst the mix of classic and contemporary styles, lily and jasmine are the favourites of the traditionalists. Looking ahead, the hotel has planning permission for a tree-house bedroom too.

The Eastbury Hotel suite

Five minutes walk away is Sherborne’s high street meandering downhill to one of the two castles. There is history to spare. In the once capital of Dorset, Sherborne hosts a 1000 year-old Abbey and a posh boarding school. “Setting Latin homework since 1550” could be its motto. Obviously in Latin.

In a honey-coloured setting that could host a film of a Thomas Hardy novel, both Jude and Tess passed through this Wessex town on their tragic travels, independent cafes and shops thrive. In this well-heeled quaint corner of Dorset, there are antique dealers, antiquarian booksellers, artisan bakers, cruise wear specialists, fashion boutiques and interior designers.

Sherborne is well-placed for visiting many National Trust and English Heritage properties. Stourhead to the north, a few miles shy of Bath, has extensive romantic era landscapes gardens, featuring lakes and follies. While to the south, Thomas Hardy’s Cottage and visitor centre is on the outskirts of Dorchester. Then it is only a short drive to the Jurassic Coast.

Seasons two AA rosette restaurant plays a major role in luring guests to the Eastbury Hotel. Chef Matt Street is a former “Master Chef – the professionals” contestant. Primarily focusing on local ingredients, though fish and shellfish make a slightly longer journey  from Brixham, the restaurant provides three menus.

A menu du jour offers great British classics such as 28 day matured rib-eye steak with truffle butter, beer-battered fish and chips and a high-end “Monty” burger. This menu has helped the Eastbury Hotel to be short-listed for the current Conde Nast Johansen Best Value Experience Award.

Although sourcing is very local, the flavours and vision are global. On the a la carte menu, miso broth and pickled shiitake bring oriental hints to the chasu pork belly whilst harissa roast pork is a trip to the Middle East.

The Eastbury Hotel dessert
Coffee and pecan financier sitting alongside frangelico gelato and caramel mousse

Foodies flock to the Eastbury for a seven-course taster menu, with accompanying wine flight. Beginning with a delicate cauliflower and truffle oil soup, it concludes with two desserts: first coconut and lime leaf with passion fruit and dark chocolate, then finally a coffee and pecan financier sitting alongside Frangelico gelato and caramel mousse.

Currently, Matt Street is planning a new menu. The acclaimed taster menu will continue to be the headliner. In future, there will be a dish of the day and a section for adult nursery food favourites. More choice is the key theme as guests tend to stay for several days at The Eastbury Hotel as they succumb to the relaxed luxury and tick off Dorset’s many attractions.

For further details, including the menus, visit The Eastbury Hotel.

If you enjoyed Micheal’s review of Eastbury Hotel, you’ll find many more UK short breaks on our Travel channel.

Last modified: November 2, 2021

Written by 12:12 pm Around The UK, Travel

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