Way out west
A new package offers guests the opportunity to experience the delights of the Dorset countryside with a stay on the Engligh Riveria
Words Reyhaan Day
Hotelier Peter De Savary has a long history of making special places. It was De Savary’s purchase of The St James’ Club in the early 1980s that changed the flagging club’s fortunes; and his properties have included Leicestershire’s Stapleford Park, a number of world-class golf resorts and many more luxury hotels and inns across America and the UK.
In more recent years, he has turned his hand to a couple of hotels in two of the UK’s most naturally beautiful counties. The Eastbury in Sherborne and The Cary Arms & Spa in Babbacombe Bay, near Torquay, were somewhat tired operations prior to De Savary’s arrivals – but his eye for comfortable luxury has turned these sites into the perfect weekend boltholes.
De Savary has put together a Country to Coast package for guests to enjoy both hotels and experience two of England’s most picturesque landscapes in one trip.
Set in the quaint and historic market town of Sherborne, The Eastbury is the epitome of country luxury. A short walk from Sherborne Abbey, which dates back to Saxon and Norman ages; Sherborne Old Castle and the latterly built Sherborne Castle, once home to Walter Raleigh and complete with Capability Brown landscaped gardens – plus wooded walks around the Cerne Abbas Giant, just a short drive away, the townhouse hotel with lush gardens is perfectly located for taking in the country air and stretching your legs.
The hotel has recently opened five Victorian Garden Potting Shed Suites, accessible via a stroll through the gorgeous garden. These are cosy but each with tri-folding rear doors that open onto a private terrace with comfortable wooden chairs and a fire pit; while a number of more traditional rooms overlook the courtyard adjacent to the main building. The decor offers country style with a contemporary edge – think vivid tartans set against white sheets; a country-cottage bathroom with rain room-style shower.
Elsewhere across the hotel, the 2AA Rosette restaurant Seasons – with a decor that is a pleasingly nostalgic throwback to old school dining rooms, serves an elegant tasting menu or comforting a la carte dishes prepared by chef Matthew Street and his kitchen, with standouts at the time of visit including roasted lamb, tahini cauliflower, carrots, labneh and chermoula, and charred monkfish with sobrasada Iberico, baby leeks, romanesco, toasted almonds and leek oil. The service from a predominantly young team deserves special mention, with the utmost professionalism granted to older guests and more relaxed interactions with ‘younger’ guests such as myself…
The bijou spa, nestled among the trees and blooming flowers towards the back of the lawn, offers treatments, gym equipment and a hot tub for romantic relaxation. Couples can also have exclusive use of the spa for an hour prior to treatments.
A 17th century stone period cottage next door has also been turned into accommodation for families or groups – with three big bedrooms all with en-suite; period features including window nooks ideal for reading; a charming kitchen and dining space; as well as a private garden with a top of the range hot tub.
Only a couple of hours away via train or car is the second stop on the Country to Coast journey – De Savary’s Cary Arms & Spa in Torbay – an area affectionately known as the English Riviera.
Guests arrive at the hotel via a steep decline down the rocky and rugged cliff face, and are greeted by a very traditional looking inn – all dark features, wonky wooden tables and red checked tablecloths – with a much airier conservatory overlooking the bay, where one might spot the odd dolphin. This is where they serve exactly the sort of dishes you’d want while in such a location, like Devon’s famous cream tea; ale battered fish and chips; hand picked crab meat from Brixham; and steak, mushroom and ale pie, alongside pints of local beer and wines from the De Savary cellar.
The views here are spectacular, and only improve as you head to the beach huts and beach suites which are even closer to the sea. Decked terraces with seats and tables allow guests to breathe in the sea air and soak in the silence, save for the odd seagull – while inside of the nautically-inspired huts are comfortable beds set on mezzanines, bright living spaces with comfy sofas and huge, high-end televisions, as well as inviting bathrooms; while the impressive beach suites are spread over more space – with a vast private terrace, separate chic living and calming sleeping spaces, and views from bed across the waves.
The Cary Arms offers guests coastal walks and activities such as paddle boarding, kayaking and sailing; while Agatha Christie fans will enjoy taking in nearby sights that inspired the writer, who was local to the area.
The Country to Coast package includes two nights at each property, with a three-course dinner, lunch and afternoon tea included with each stay, as well as activities or spa experiences, guided walks and complimentary champagne all offered. Rates start from £925 based on two people sharing, and guests can book to stay at either hotel first.
South Western Railway and Great Western Railway run services between London, Devon and Dorset throughout the week.