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Eastbury Hotel & Sherborne Golf Club Review

By: Derek Clements | Tue 19 Oct 2021 | Comments


I HAVE visited Dorset several times, but never for a golf break. That all changed when I recently stayed at the Eastbury Hotel and Spa in the picturesque town of Sherborne. 

The Eastbury is one of a growing number of hotels that doesn't have a golf course attached but has a reciprocal agreement with nearby Sherborne Golf Club, offering guests a stay and play package, with green fees from £35 for 18 holes.

Before we get to the hotel and golf course, a little information about the county.

Dorset has a varied landscape featuring broad elevated chalk downs, steep limestone ridges and low-lying clay valleys. More than half the county is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Three-quarters of its coastline is part of the Jurassic Coast Natural World Heritage Site because of its geological and palaeontologic significance.

Tourism has become increasingly important to the economy, with Stonehenge and Longleat Safari Park on the doorstep. 

There are no motorways in Dorset but an excellent network of A roads cross the county and two railway main lines connect it to London. Dorset has ports at Poole, Weymouth and Portland, and an international airport at Bournemouth.

The county has a variety of museums, theatres and festivals, and is the birthplace of Thomas Hardy, who used it as the principal setting for his novels.

So what about the Eastbury Hotel and Spa? It is a beautiful venue and we loved every second of our stay there. There is more to a five-star hotel than great surroundings, fixtures and food. Far more. For me, it all begins and ends with the staff, and everybody at the Eastbury made us feel welcome. The smiles and the warmth of their welcome were genuine.

It offers 27 unique accommodations, comprising Rooms, Suites, Victorian Garden ‘Potting Shed Suites” and a three-bedroom cottage that adjoins the hotel. Originally designed as an 18th century Georgian gentleman’s residence, The Eastbury's rooms ooze warmth and character and offer a real home from home.

Tastefully and sympathetically designed accommodation, suitable for all members of the family, including your trusted four-legged companions. With rooms for sole travellers, spacious kings, to Four-Poster Beds, interconnecting and family room as well as self-catering option. A variety of rooms and suites are accessible from the ground floor, both indoors and outdoors from our private garden. The rooms are all individually styled, reflecting the character of the building with luxurious fabrics, smooth crisp linens, and specially chosen mattresses.

It's the little things that add a touch of class - it could be the welcome pack that includes hand-crafted soap and hand cream, or the bottle of chilled rose, the sloe gin, the underfloor heating, the up-market bathroom products. Or the dressing gowns and slippers. Or what about the outside seating area, with a fire pit and fuel? Or the table and chairs located in front? Maybe the giant chess set or croquet. 

There is a games room with a free pool table, a library and a gorgeous cocktail bar. 

The spa, which is located at the rear of the hotel, is delightful. 

But the jewel in the crown at The Eastbury is the Seasons restaurant, which has been awarded two rosettes for culinary excellence. Or you can opt to eat in the Chef’s Table pod, located in the delightful garden. There is a small supplementary charge of £12 for 3-4 guests.

The food is simply sublime and most of it is locally sourced. Chef Matthew Street is a former Master Chef and Roux Scholarship finalist. Born locally, he has led the kitchen team for 12 years, and he is a perfectionist.

I opted for a mackerel and cucumber starter with sourdough followed by 28-day matured ribeye steak, truffle butter, duck fat chips, onion rings and Madeira sauce, followed by white chocolate and raspberry financier with clotted cream. OMG, it was to die for. The steak, which was cooked to perfection, melted in my mouth. A two-course meal costs £25, three courses are £30 - a small price to pay for such magnificent fayre. In the background, a pianist tinkles the ivories at dinner time.

There is also a light lunch menu which can be enjoyed in the garden bistro or terrace. These items are also available to take away as a picnic hamper.

And then there is the breakfast menu. Fresh juice, a selection of pastries, home-made jams, cereals, tea and coffee - and that's just for starters. The full Dorset English breakfast will surely set up just about every customer for the day - it certainly filled me until dinner time. The 'full Dorset' comprises bacon, sausage, egg (cooked to your choice), a giant mushroom, baked beans, black pudding - all locally sourced and bursting with flavour.

THE SPA

Located at the bottom of the walled garden lies a luxurious spa which offers a variety of relaxing and therapeutic therapies. It features an outdoor hot tub, indoor hydrotherapy tub, sauna and jacuzzi shower with relaxation areas both inside the spa and outside in the garden. There are two treatment rooms, including a couple’s therapy room. Treatments offer everything from soothing facials to invigorating massages and other beauty and wellness therapies.

An indoor mini-gym includes a Body Power upright cycle, weights, skipping ropes with bench press and mat space as well as yoga mats. Resident accommodation also comes equipped with yoga mats.

A full Swedish head and body massage, lasting 70 minutes and guaranteed to relieve the pressures of everyday life costs £90. Stone therapy, with warn volcanic stones used to massage and melt away muscle tension, ease stress and stimulate circulation costs £85 for full body, or £55 for back, neck and shoulders.

OUT AND ABOUT

Sherborne boasts a host of pubs and restaurants. If you are looking for a decent cheap meal, a cheap pint and sport on TV then you should head for the Half Moon, which is a busy, bustling pub located in the town centre. It is a no-frills establishment but the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming. Our favourite was the White Hart, a traditional 17th Century pub boasting live music on Saturday nights. This pub is packed with character, boasting lots of nooks and crannies and a room that is dedicated to rock memorabilia. It also serves traditional pub food and classic Sunday roasts. 

THE GOLF

Sherborne Golf Club is more than 125 years old. It was designed by James Braid and is a classic parkland course, boasting sensational views across the surrounding countryside. Most of the fairways slope from right to left or vice-versa so there is no question of just standing on the tee, opening your shoulders and giving it a thrash. This is a golf course that demands a strategic approach. Find the fairways and you have a chance of scoring well. Miss them and you will be reaching for the calculator.

There are plenty of well placed bunkers but there are also several greens with no bunkers - don't be fooled into thinking that makes the approach shots easy because if you catch the slopes and banks in the wrong place you will have no chance of holding the putting surface.

Peter O'Brien, the club's chairman, revealed that Sherborne has 750 members and is probably at its busiest on Friday afternoons. So the good news for visitors is that if you fancy playing on Saturday or Sunday afternoon you should easily find a tee-time. It is a friendly, forward-thinking golf club that works closely with local schools and has about 90 junior members.

Sherborne Golf Club

6,436 yards, par 72, parkland

The opening hole is a fairly gentle par four, measuring 407 yards with out of bounds well left and trees along the right. A good drive to the left hand half of the fairway minimises the risk from the bunker front right of the green. A solid second shot pitched short of the green and left of the bunker, will feed onto the testing green that slopes from front to back. The second is another par four, measuring 357 yards, It is played downhill with a bunker on the dog-leg to catch mis-directed tee shots. Big hitters might consider taking on the dog-leg bunker, leaving a short iron to a receptive green. The fifth is a magnificent par four and the hardest hole on the course. It measures 439 yards and is an uphill dog-leg. The ideal drive is up the left hand side of the fairway, but beware the bunker on the left. A good drive will leave a fairway wood or long iron to a green guarded by bunkers on the right. If you cannot fly the green, aim between two prominent Poplar trees behind the green to run the ball onto the left hand half of the green, or lay up in the 100-yard space behind Braid’s Bush in the centre of the fairway. The sixth is a 500-yard par five. A straight drive is essential, with trees framing the fairway and a bunker on the left that cannot be seen from the tee. Big hitters will have to take on the narrow gap between two pairs of bunkers some 60 yards short of the green if they want to reach the green in two. The green slopes from front to back. The seventh is the first of three spectacular par threes, measuring 188 yards and played to a two-tier green angled from front left to back right. The front nine closes with a challenging 192-yard par three, known as The Badger because of the extensive badger workings in the slopes of the terraces. A long iron or fairway wood must fly the green, which slopes from back to front to allow a well struck shot to hold the green. Alternatively, play onto the terrace short right and avoid the bunkers close to the green. Once on the green, beware the slope which demands a very careful putt if you are above the hole.

The 10th is a 404-yard par dog-leg. The ideal driving line is the tall poplar tree in the background. Left of this line leaves a long shot to the green, right of this line can be blocked out by trees. A good drive towards the poplar tree will leave a short or mid-iron to the green, which slopes from front to back and is guarded by bunkers left and right. The 11th is another par five, this time measuring 523 yards. It is a double dog-leg that demands accuracy from the tee. Find the centre of the fairway, play through the gap in the fir trees while avoiding the bunkers across the fairway eighty yards short of the green. The fairway bunkers and front right greenside bunkers come into play for big hitters trying to reach the green in two. The 12th is a challenging par four of 456 yards, a downhill dog-leg with a fairway that slopes from left to right. Greenside there are bunkers left and right, with plenty of room between them to run the ball onto the green. The 15th is Sherborne’s final par three. It only measures 162 yards but demands pinpoint accuracy. It plays longer than it looks - take one more club than you think, hit the back of the green, or the slope behind the green, and your ball will roll back down the slope to the centre back of the green. The 16th is a magnificent risk-and-reward par four of 368 yards. It is a dog-leg around a steep wooded drop out of bounds. Big hitters can carry the oak tree in the out of bounds and land on fairway, leaving a short approach, but get out of position and you risk running up a cricket score. The 17th is an innocuous-looking par four that measures just 276 yards and offers what appears to be a golden birdie chance. But beware the out of bounds left and right. The closing hole is a 353-yard par four with woods on the left and out of bounds right. The marker post is in line with the green and the ideal drive should be a few yards left of the post, which opens up the green so that the second shot does not have to fly the bunkers guarding the front right of the putting surface. The green slopes from back to front, making it receptive for a well struck second shot, but leaving the ball above the hole means you will have a challenging first putt and may need to make a good second putt to save your par.

For more information, visit https://theeastburyhotel.co.uk/ and https://www.sherbornegolfclub.co.uk/.


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