As we approached the hotel through the beautiful walled garden, Peter de Savary was sitting at one of the garden tables with some of his management team perusing plans for future development of the hotel including (opening in summer 2019) a ‘Hobbit House Spa’ tucked into a leafy corner of the garden, as well as five new Potting Shed Garden Suites. The quirky spa buildings are built from local stone, complete with sedum and moss roof and circular doorway and will consist of two treatment rooms (including a couple’s room), a hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam room, exercise area and private relaxation space.
The Potting Shed Garden Suites have been designed to allow guests the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the hotel’s gardens. The stylish new dog-friendly suites will take inspiration from the English Victorian-style potting shed and will be located discreetly within the landscaping of the garden whilst preserving the integrity of the historic brick garden wall. Private terraces, fire pits, sedum roofs and tasteful, creative interiors will complete a bucolic experience.
Our room was on the ground floor and had its own private terrace and antique four-poster bed. The interior was beautifully designed with all the comforts one would expect from a de Savary hotel. The revamp of the Grade II-listed buildings, under the direction of the interior designer Kathleen Fraser, has included a full refurbishment of all 22 guest rooms and residents areas including the elegant and bright drawing room, chic morning room and the addition of a smart snooker-cum-meeting room. In addition, three new luxury bedrooms have been completed which can be booked either individually or together as a family suite.
We started our evening with cocktails in the bar, and although we were offered the seven-course tasting menu, decided on the a la carte menu route. The restaurant overlooks the gardens and al fresco dining is very much a possibility, weather permitting. There was also an informal ‘House Menu’. The only slight criticism to make (which I did) was that the restaurant seemed slightly tired in terms of design and furnishing, but I was informed that this was next on the list for refurbishment.
The décor, however, was irrelevant as the food was superb. With the now-expected emphasis on local and season, chef Matt Street has created a modern British menu with lots of inventive twists and touches. We started with Devon crab, beautifully presented with cucumber and green apple, wasabi and dill oil; my choice of Caesar salad was equally delicious. For main courses we plumped for rump of lamb and a risotto of wild mushrooms, again both scoring high marks for presentation and flavour. We finished with a selection of British cheeses and an indulgent sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce. The wine list is not extensive but it was of a very good quality and reasonably priced.
After a delicious breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs the following morning, we had a stroll around the town admiring the eclectic mix of architecture. The medieval Abbey sits right in the middle of the town and is well worth a visit, as is the high street with its range of independent shops. As we drove away we were surprised to note the proximity of so many scenic and historic places so if you ever have a reason to visit this beautiful part of the country, or just fancy a bit of spoiling in lovely surroundings, this little jewel of a hotel will do perfectly.
Rooms from £195 B&B
Long Street, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 3BY