The best places to eat, stay, shop and visit in the South West

The Eastbury Hotel & Spa, Sherborne

The Eastbury Hotel provides a great reason to put Sherborne – a town famous for its spectacular abbey and private schools – on your summer hit list, says Rosanna Rothery

What’s the draw?

Nestled in a row of honey-coloured cottages, The Eastbury Hotel & Spa, a bijou Georgian townhouse with oodles of old-world charm, looks inviting. However, it’s the billowing trees, springy lawn and pretty borders at the rear that create its signature secret-garden appeal.

There’s something reassuring, calming, almost medicating, about being tucked away in a secluded garden. Vintage-style deckchairs, a giant chess set, croquet lawn, badminton net and terrace tables conjure the carefree days of childhood and beg for summer cocktails, family tournaments and dinner alfresco.

Who’s cooking?

Executive chef Matthew Street, who has been carving out a fine reputation at the hotel’s Seasons Restaurant for over a decade, pours his heart and soul into his creations. Don’t visit expecting run-of-the-mill fare in this conservatory-style restaurant.

Matthew, a quarter finalist in 2009 MasterChef: The Professionals, expresses a distinctive culinary personality in dishes drawn from childhood food memories and recollections of delicious meals enjoyed abroad – as well as ongoing flavour experiments. The result is genuinely exciting menus, full of surprises, which transport diners to all corners of the globe.

Matthew Street at The Eastbury Hotel

What to order?

Our advice is to go dainty on any preceding meals to guarantee enough room for Matthew’s extravagant tasting menu and accompanying drinks flight.

Whether it’s the pig’s cheek with pickled kohlrabi, miso broth and crispy wakame, or Middle-Eastern-inspired roast lamb with tahini cauliflower and labneh, each course will whisk you away to a scrumptious culinary hotspot.

The Thai-leaning coconut and lime leaf sorbet, for instance, was the most lavishly unctuous iced dessert we’ve ever tasted.

Food’s tip

For the full soothing garden-of- Eden experience, book to stay in one of the delightful Victorian Potting Shed Suites, complete with flowering sedum roof and private terrace. And don’t leave without experiencing a bit of vino-therapy (body and face treatments using grape-inspired French skincare line Caudalie) in the quirky Hobbit-hole spa.

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