If there’s one thing that this year’s travel restrictions have granted us, it’s the incentive to make the most of the Great British countryside, and with that, bring our beloved canine companions along for the ride. In that spirit, Daniella Saunders took to The Eastbury in Sherborne to discover one of the most dog-friendly hotels in Dorset, a five-star country gem loved by humans and pups alike.
Situated in the charming and historic town of Sherborne in north west Dorset, The Eastbury – nestled on a sequestered street between an array of honey limestone cottages – is a world away from the flurry of motorway noise and tumultuous city life. Upon arrival to the hotel facade, it’s easy to ponder “where’s the rest?”, but this understated establishment is surprisingly extensive, comprising of 26 cosy rooms and suites – including nine dog-friendly dwellings – an award-winning restaurant and reposeful walled gardens complete with a miniature kitchen garden, giant chess set and vintage-style deck chairs.
Rooms are equally as delightful, spanning Four Poster Garden Suites and dog-friendly Victorian Garden Potting Sheds which feature their very own private terraces and outdoor log burner – ideal for cosying up with a Viper London Dry Dorset gin post-dinner. Dogs are treated to a generous welcome pack upon arrival, including delicious dog-friendly bites, chews and a gorgeous ‘Eastbury’ bandana, as well as their own Bunty dog bed and bowls, so you can be sure to pack lightly.
A recent addition to the hotel is the Eastbury Cottage, a private residence where guests (and dogs, of course), can enjoy a more exclusive and secluded staycation, whilst still enjoying access to the hotel restaurant and spa. Dating back to the 17th century, the three-floor characterful home – which has been renovated to exceptional standards – comprises three double ensuite bedrooms, one with its own freestanding bath, a homely living room complete with an old-world Inglenook fireplace, plus a private garden with a hot tub (available from late September).
You won’t be short of things to do and explore in Sherborne. Whether it’s a visit to the spectacular Sherborne Abbey – a must-see after-dark when the building is beautifully lit – or a ponder around the independent shops, you’ll be fascinated by this remote market town’s wealth of history. Sherborne is also renowned for its love of dogs. Pups are welcome to venture into most pubs and restaurants, where water bowls and treats are always on offer.
The hotel lies at the heart of the Sherborne countryside, where you’re always just a short walk away from acres of unspoiled greenery. Enjoy the hotel’s favourite dog-friendly walk around the east side of town, where you’ll discover prepossessing views of Sherborne Castle, an impressive Tudor mansion dating back to the 16th Century.
Rest up at the hotel’s boutique spa, a tranquil oasis hidden within a quirky Hobbit-style hideaway. Indulge in a restorative Caudalie treatment – from nourishing facials to aromatherapy massages – and spend time relaxing in the hydrotherapy tub. If you’re blessed with the weather, be sure to take a dip in the outdoor jacuzzi hot tub. The spa also boasts a sauna and steam room and mini gym for those who wish to work up a sweat.
For such a quaint hotel, The Eastbury’s food offering is exceptional. Meals, including afternoon tea, each take place in the 2 AA Rosette award-wining Seasons restaurant, which boasts beautiful views overlooking the hotel garden and a live piano player on select evenings. The garden ‘pod’, a cosy outdoor dining spot, also caters up to four guests and is the perfect place to enjoy an intimate drink or meal, complete with cushions, blankets and surrounded by greenery. Dogs are more than welcome to join guests, where the chef will even knock up a delicious chicken and rice dinner for them to enjoy, with sausages served in the morning. As for humans, evening dishes range from the likes of a creamy blue cheese brulee to charred monkfish and 28 day aged rib eye steak. An amuse-bouche is always served before starters, alongside delectable warm bread and a moreish tomato butter, whilst the traditional sticky toffee pudding is an absolute must-try if you have a strong sweet tooth. Enjoy a pre or post-dinner drink in the hotel’s sumptuous cocktail bar, before relaxing in one of the cosy hotel lounges.
Of course, if you’re planning on staying at the hotel for a few days or so, there’s no harm in venturing out to explore some of the town’s renowned local restaurants. Just a stone’s throw from the Abbey in Sherborne’s Conduit marketplace is The Cross Keys, an inviting dog-friendly pub-cum-restaurant which serves up tasty homemade food, whilst historic inn The Plume of Feathers is the ideal spot to stop by for a drink whilst wandering through town.
THE FINAL WORD
Whether you’re planning a staycation with your pup or not, The Eastbury guarantees an unforgettable getaway. With the Dorset countryside on its doorstep, plus exceptional amenities and staff that can’t do enough for you, the rural bolthole makes for the ideal British escape – so good, we guarantee you’ll forget all about that overseas holiday you had planned.
A stay at The Eastbury in a double room starts from £195 per night on a bed and breakfast basis. A stay in the new Eastbury Cottage, price based on 2 people is £625 per night or £4,375 for 7 nights. Price based on 4 people or more is £850 per night or £5950 for 7 nights on a self-catering basis. Includes a private garden, 6 seater outdoor table, barbecue and a classic garden hot tub (available from the end of September). Minimum 2-night stay. theeastburyhotel.co.uk