“ Address: Long Street / Sherborne / Dorset / DT9 3BY / England / Telephone: 01935 813131 „
This is a very pretty Georgian building within a few minute walk of the centre of the pretty town of Sherborne in Dorset. We have eaten in the restaurant several times as it is local to where we live and last year we held a family event in their conference room, putting six people up in the hotel rooms. THE LOCATION If you want to stay in Sherborne then I was say this is the optimal location - a five minute walk from the Abbey and the shops but not in an area where people will walk past when the pubs have shut so it will not be noisy. It is well signposted off the A30 so easy to find if you don't know the area. There is not much car parking space there and as far as I know the hotel does not have its own car park - there are single yellow lines and some marked free parking bays outside but it can be busy at times and you might have to walk a yard or two down the road. THE SERVICE There is a welcome desk as soon as you walk in and the staff are always friendly. It is a two star hotel but a very classy example. There are plenty of people in the restaurant to bring you whatever you want and they are very good with children both in the rooms and in the restaurant. They have cots. highchairs etc. We sat in the bar with two children under three and my little girl was well looked after by the bar person in terms of nibbles, crisps, a straw in her drink etc. In the restaurant the service has been perfectly good and very willing, but a little bit less than the top top quality impeccable you expect in a London restaurant like the Ivy. THE ROOMS Because it is an old building the rooms vary quite a lot. we took a single room and it was pretty small, but also a nice family room with a sort of second bedroom almost - a large area with bunk beds. We also took a standard double which was fine. We were warned in advance that one room was over the bar area. Not that it is a hotel in which people riot in in my experience. The rooms are well furnished, with good en-suites and plenty of towels, clean bedlinen, bathrobes, complementary mineral water - all that sort of thing. They have twenty three bedrooms in the main hotel and another seven in another building at the back - those rooms are more modern. Each of the rooms we took had different furniture and curtains etc - they are unique and rather sweetly have names - they are named after traditional English flowers and trees. Ours had a bath in the en-suite with a shower over it, both terrestrial and satellite channels on the TV (not a brilliant choice though), hair dryer, kettle and tea/coffee tray, and telephone. All their executive rooms have wired broadband but annoyingly, not the standard ones. THE PRICE It is not a budget hotel this one - more of your luxury end of the market. A single room cost us GBP 68 and a double GBP 120, though they only charged GBP 20 for each of the children to stay and have breakfast, which I though wasn't too bad (though plenty of hotels don't charge at all!) It did represent reasonable value for money (except in the single room which I did think was too small - next time I'd pay GBP 20 more and get single occupancy of a double room). It is a hotel you feel you are treating yourself to stay in; it is in a great location and is pretty. To eat in the restaurant it is a la carte but you pay for the courses you eat not per item - e.g. a three course meal is GBP 31 and two courses costs GBP 26. It is possible to drink a good bottle of wine for under GBP 20. THE RESTAURANT The hotel has two red AA rosettes for the restaurant and the quality of the food, though variable, is at least good and occasionally amazing. Fantastic breads come with your meal - chorizo bread, leek and cheese bread, walnut bread etc - it is different every time and there is always a good selection. It's a bit different - you won't get a prawn cocktail in here! Think skate wings, fois gras, sage gnocci, seared scallops, roast lamb with white bean puree, and you've got the idea, Amazingly from the starter menu I gave my one-year-old steamed mutton pudding, braised lentils and pancetta, with a shallot puree. This was like a mini suet pudding/lamb stew so he was happy, but I thought it was curious to have as a starter! I have had some incredible dishes - really really fabulous where every mouthful is dreamy; but I have had a few duff things too - nothing bad of course but the odd thing that is a bit tasteless, or not very well conceived. The wine list is extensive, and good. It is slightly below averagely priced for this sort of restaurant, I'd say. There are plenty of wines around the GBP 15-18 mark and only a few over GBP 50. House champers is GBP 30 a bottle. The clientele tend to be quite reserved and low key - it's all white linen folded napkins and no lager louts! Breakfast was really good - and with all the freshly cooked kippers and oatmeal porridge type of thing as well as full English etc. All cooked to order and brought to your table, not buffet style. THE GROUNDS These are lovely. We had a really nice lunch time being served canapes and drinks on the terrace overlooking a lovely mature walled garden with plenty of space to wander about and look at the flowers and pretty paths through it. They do wedding packages, and we had a lovely christening there - we were well looked after by the function manager and his team and they let you bring your own wine if you want (though they charge corkage of GBP 7.50 - that can still be quite a good deal if you are planning a large do). The grounds would be lovely for photographs etc. and their main function room opens out with French doors onto the garden. Lovely in the summer. OVERALL I would recommend this hotel and will go back there again myself. Though it isn't cheap it is just about worth what it costs if you can afford it for a treat. Also on Ciao.