Michael Edwards travels to the English Riviera for a stay at the Eastbury Hotel and Spa.
Peter de Savary has a record of creatively pushing the boundaries of the traditional concepts of a hotel. On the English Riviera, at Babbacombe, The Carey Arms brings New England coastal clapperboard chic to the Devon. Guests staying in the Shepherds’ Huts at The Merry Harriers have llamas for company and a ramble through the Surrey Hills with their four-legged neighbours. At Bognor Regis’ Beachcroft Hotel the great British bucket-and-spade coastline is celebrated in vibrant, colourful luxury.
No surprise then that Peter de Savary and his wife Lana have pushed design boundaries again at The Eastbury Hotel and Spa in Sherborne. Since 1740 elms and yew trees have flourished in the expansive gardens of what began as a gentleman’s house. A house subsequently improved with the addition of a harmoniously symmetrical Georgian facade.
Now, adjacent to the croquet lawn, and given privacy by deep, luscious Gardeners World borders – “I like to let them flourish,” says gardener Tina – sit five Victorian Garden Potting Shed Suites.
Distanced in the garden from the main house and on the quiet fringes of market town Sherborne, these suites offer a hushed country retreat. Though Sherborne is just over two hours from London by train. The chrome of the hotel’s 1964 Beardmore taxi is always polished, waiting to collect guests from the station.
Somehow the Victorian Garden Potting Shed Suites merge a spirit of age-old horticultural simplicity with contemporary conservation. Between the underfloor heating and an insulating living roof of moss and sedum, the suites with their exposed brickwork and subdued palate of pastoral greens, are a cosy and peaceful retreat. A decanter of sloe gin and a bottle of wine provide a warm welcome.
Natural fibres, a warm woollen tartan throw on the six-foot side bed and thick-lined curtains are a nod back to the simple luxuries of Victorian times. But you can’t have five-star luxurious accommodation without a large flat-screen television and here it is disguised as a mirror with a distressed wood frame. A small Smeg fridge and Nespresso coffeemaker add touches of modernity.
After over 45 years in the hotel business, Peter de Savary knows that Dorset will experience the vagaries of the four seasons: umbrella and hot water bottle are both provided. Sandwiched between the original garden wall and the suite there is a tiny garden with garden furniture and a fire pit. The suites also have a portion of glass ceiling for star-gazing on cloud-free nights.
Even the brightly futuristic wet-room has hints of the potting sheds with long timber shelves for all those bathroom accessories. And how could the toiletries be anything other than “Flowers” – hints of jasmine, rose and neroli – by The White Company? A potted plant connects this bathroom to its heritage.
No, the dwelling with an apparently round door and another moss/sedum living roof isn’t a Hobbit’s house. It is the spa. A large hydrotherapy bath, contoured for two, takes pride of place close to the sauna and complex jacuzzi shower. Two treatment rooms offer a wide range of massage and beauty therapies. All part of The Eastbury’s relaxing ambience. On the walk to the spa guests pass the latticed timbers of the “Bug Hotel” which mainly welcomes ladybirds.
Seasons restaurant, led by renowned chef Matt Street, a MasterChef The Professionals contestant, is a key draw for many guests. A seven-course taster menu with the option of an accompanying wine flight, an imaginative a la carte menu and traditional favourites on a menu du jour have all been recognised with awards. Currently, the Eastbury has been short-listed for Conde Nast Johansen’s Best Value Experience Category.
Location, location, location. A mere five-minute stroll takes guests to Sherborne’s 1,000-year-old Abbey and a plethora of independent cafes and shops. As Sherborne drips history it even boasts two castles. Also, on Dorset’s quiet roads it is just a half hour’s drive to the heart of Thomas Hardy country in Dorchester. Another short drive takes guests to the Jurassic Coast. Location, location, location.
Tell Me More About The Eastbury Hotel And Spa
The Eastbury Hotel, Long Street, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 3BY
T: 01935 813131 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
A Victorian Garden Potting Shed Suite begins from £206 per night.