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Travel: A dog-friendly break in paw-fect Dorset

© Alamy Stock PhotoAs dawn breaks Sherborne Castle, once home to Sir Walter Raleigh, is shrouded in mist, but the beauty of the countryside is still plain to see
As dawn breaks Sherborne Castle, once home to Sir Walter Raleigh, is shrouded in mist, but the beauty of the countryside is still plain to see

We’re about to dine on an exquisite meal in a picture-perfect restaurant. It’s definitely not the type of place you’d normally expect to find any four-legged, furry guests.

But our third – and VIP – dinner guest, Puck, a two-year-old Pomchi, has snuggled down on a lush bed in the corner next to the dinner table, awaiting his gourmet meal of chicken and rice.

And the dog-friendly pampering doesn’t end there. At least, not at The Eastbury Hotel.

Situated in the picturesque town of Sherborne, Dorset, the Georgian-period listed townhouse oozes elegance from every corner.

© Press Association Images
The Victorian Garden Potting Shed

Owner Peter de Savary says it best by describing it as the “perfect stress-free destination to unwind and relax”. And I’m sure that my dog, Puck, agrees wholeheartedly.

When we’re shown around the 26-room property, Puck trots along to explore with us. It’s a treat to see a hotel embracing dogs at every turn.

We stay in one of five luxury garden suites launched in 2019 (known as the Victorian Garden Potting Sheds) which are external to the main hotel.

The elegant room aside, it’s the welcome for Puck that is impressive. Waiting in the room is a comfortable dog bed (definitely a King Size in his books) adorned with a rope toy and bag of treats, as well as a welcome letter addressed to Puck.

A food and water bowl are laid out neatly, along with a collapsible water bowl, which you can take with you on walks should you need.

There’s a small, private outside area that’s perfect for him to explore, while providing some open space. And rooms are spread far enough apart, so you won’t be bothered if anyone else’s pooch should decide to get a bit chatty.

© PA
The Eastbury Hotel

There’s a marked difference between a hotel being dog tolerant and dog friendly, and The Eastbury Hotel falls into the latter.

Understandably, there are some areas that are not all access for his paws – the spa, for example – but otherwise, it’s a treat to walk around a hotel and not feel like anyone is objecting to furry friends.

The garden and outside areas have bins and poo bags in just the right places. If, like me, you find a holiday isn’t an enjoyable one without your animal at your side, then it’s a game changer.

Sophistication is something the two AA Rosette restaurant Seasons can pride itself on. Executive chef Matthew Street, a former MasterChef Professionals contestant, has crafted an impressive feast using local produce.

As the restaurant name implies, the menu is adapted to the seasons. It also includes a top-end tasting menu and a menu of the day.

The dining experience definitely ticks the memorable box. You can order a chicken and rice dinner for your pooch to enjoy alongside you, and Puck tucks into his with gusto.

© PA
A stylish room

You can also have doggie meals – and human ones – delivered to your room if you’d prefer a night in.

And one of the hotel’s strengths must be its easy access to the Dorset countryside. The town itself is a quick walk from the hotel and you’ll find there’s plenty to explore – from a scrumptious deli called The Pear Tree, to Saxon cathedral Sherborne Abbey.

But it’s undoubtedly the surrounding countryside that beckons – especially if you’re a dog owner.

The area is a walker’s dream, and there’s a handy booklet in each hotel room recommending dog walks.

Sherborne Walks’ Paul Birbeck takes us on a morning amble to the nearby Sherborne Castle and Gardens.

© Press Association Images
Puck out exploring

Built by Sir Walter Raleigh in the late 1500s, with gardens landscaped by Capability Brown, the castle is a slice of heaven.

Walking guide Paul is a font of knowledge about the surrounding area and castle.

After a walk, there’s no better place to soothe your walking legs than at the hotel spa, which guests can book for exclusive use for an hour.

As far as dog-friendly breaks go, my furry friend gives this one a solid paws up.


P.S. The Dorset village of Holwell, five miles from Sherborne, is home to England’s oldest postbox. Bearing Queen Victoria’s initials, it is grade 2-listed and has been in use since 1853.


Factfile

PetsPyjamas, petspyjamas.com, offers stays at The Eastbury from £295 per night.

PetsPyjamas customers become members of their Priority Paws club, which gives dogs and their owners access to their own VIP Pet Concierge, with complimentary 24/7 Vet Line access.