Living out my Bridgerton fantasies in the fabulous child-friendly Georgian Cottage, hotel and spa – The Eastbury Hotel and Spa.
As a mum, it can be hard to remember your own needs when planning a holiday away. All too often we stay in ‘safe’ ‘child-friendly’ places near waterparks, theme parks, in chain hotels with free kids breakfasts. Which definitely have their place.
So, if I am totally honest, I was a little nervous about staying somewhere as clearly lovely as The Eastbury Hotel and SpaHotel Cottage. It is a beautiful Georgian cottage filled with beautiful things in a dream location.
But actually, there was no need to worry. The Eastbury Hotel and Spa is a thoughtfully equipped cottage, created with families in mind that shows you can combine the luxury of boutique hotel with the subtle practicalities you need when travelling with children.
We arrived at the The Eastbury Hotel late afternoon after a rather long drive and were all ready to decompress. There is a very handy carpark for guests at the back of the hotel that leads you in through the most wonderful, scented garden. In that moment, the pressure lifted, and we realised just what a treat this would be.
The team at The Eastbury Hotel and Spa could not have been more welcoming. We were shown through to the cottage, just next door to the Georgian townhouse hotel. This was brilliant as you have access to the wonderful amenities of the hotel (a restaurant for an incredible breakfast, drawing room, morning room, and Billiards room) but are far enough away to relax without having to think about disturbing other guests.
The cottage is kitted out with antiques and curiosities – it couldn’t be further from the plastic feel of many kid-friendly resorts. And yet, it didn’t make us nervous. The character of the property is well placed, interesting but safe, so we didn’t have to be watchful of breaking things.
The cottage has a superb kitchen with dishwasher, microwave, nespresso coffee machine and washing machine for emergencies (always helpful with two clumsy kids). There was plenty of crockery which meant I didn’t have to think about washing up ahead of the next meal and a welcoming hamper with locally sourced bread, butter, fresh milk, cereals a very welcome bottle of wine and treats for the adults and the kids.
The dining room has a range of boardgames which was a massive win with our youngest and the cottage is littered with a selection of interiors magazines, coffee table books and novels which was a win for me. The lounge is soft, welcome, focused on an amazing inglenook fireplace with a discretely nestled tv – a reminder that it is nice to be together rather than go straight into our Netflix watchlist. We were treated to a decanter of sloe gin which made for a very pleasant evening in front of the fire after the kids had retired to bed.
The kitchen and lounge open onto a beautiful, contained garden. There is space to dine outside, an incredible woodfired hot tub and a secret hideaway with bunkbeds and a tv for the kids to enjoy – genius. You are welcome to bring dogs to the cottage, so this is a very useful addition to the space and again adds to the feeling of freedom and tranquillity.
The cottage is deceptively spacious, with three large bedrooms upstairs. The master suite transported us instantly to a luxury hotel far away from the realities of life. An amazing bath, The White Company toiletries, waffle robes, elegant velvet armchairs, window seats, plantation shutters, luxurious soft furnishings and pillowy bed guaranteed a good night’s sleep and a chance to feel rested. After binge watching season two of Bridgerton, this was an escape I could only have dreamed of.
There is a huge suite in the attic too – ideal for travelling with extended family with double bed, sitting area, Netflix enabled TV and private bathroom. The stairs are steep, but there is a gate at the top of the stairs to prevent falls.
The Eastbury Hotel and Spa is ideally placed in historic Sherborne. There is handy access to a Waitrose if you choose to dine in, but also a range of independent food suppliers, places to dine out and shops to browse on Cheap Street, the historic high street. Worth a visit are Ecco Gelato, an incredible ice cream factory and café – we enjoyed black forest crepes, salted caramel gelato and the most amazing raspberry ripple ice cream I’ve ever had. You must also call in at the excellent Reeves, the Bakery. We enjoyed toasted sourdough sandwiches, doughnuts and coffee.
You are placed within easy walking distance of Sherborne Abbey, Sherborne Museum and two castles – Sherborne Old Castle and Sherborne New Castle and Gardens. You are also an easy drive from a range of attractions including Corfe Castle, Brownsea Island and Durdle Door. We chose to spend the morning visiting Stonehenge (English Heritage but also free to NT members) – a must see. This was the perfect combination of fresh air, exercise to burn off some energy and educational visit. It was fab to hear our youngest explain the Stone Age to us as we stomped up the hill. There is also a regular bus to the stones if you don’t feel up to the 20-minute walk.
After a brilliant day exploring, we had the very special treat of dinner in Seasons Restaurant at the Hotel. Again, I can feel nervous dining somewhere this special with two kids in toe. However, the staff could not have been more welcoming. My youngest had spotted crispy squid on the sample menu in the cottage and was disappointed not to see it on the day, however we mentioned this to our helpful server and after a quick chat with the chef she had rustled up a portion. Really incredible service. We enjoyed the best steak we have eaten; amazing market fish dish with local purple sprouting broccoli and the desserts were out of this world. My oldest couldn’t believe how beautiful the mango panna cotta was – both to look at and to eat. This is really wonderful dining. And it can be enjoyed as a family. There is a children’s menu, and the team were very happy to accommodate to the needs of our fussy eater ensuring a very relaxing and enjoyable meal.
The restaurant usefully spills out on to the incredible hotel gardens of The Eastbury Hotel and Spa which is ideal for a breath of air between courses. The garden, packed with perky tulips, manicured greens, secluded corners and activities like croquet and chess to occupy the kids made for a truly wonderful evening. The perfect place to again live out my Bridgerton fantasies.
The following morning, I was treated to a pedicure at the spa. The spa is located at the end of the hotel garden and is the perfect place to pamper yourself. With two treatment rooms, sauna, steam room, mini gym and an indoor and outdoor hot tub it is a fantastic place to relax. Bekky did a wonderful job with my awful feet and was the perfect therapist – talking enough to make me feel comfortable but not so much that I couldn’t enjoy the hour of tranquillity. Again, brilliant service from a highly professional, skilled and friendly team.
The team at The Eastbury Hotel and Spa clearly know their stuff. They have exceptional taste but a very good understanding of family life. They have brought together a thoughtful range of activities, interiors and services which have changed what child-friendly means to us when travelling. At no point did the kids feel like an add on. But neither did we – the parents.