Hotel Review: Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & Spa, Evershot in Dorset
A long time had passed since I last travelled to Dorset – either physically as a child every summer to my grandparents’ holiday home in Burton Bradstock, or mentally, when studying Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles for A Level English.
But time stood still when I visited the village of Evershot last month, so unchanged it seemed from the time Hardy wrote.
Evershot is quintessential Dorset, with its stone Tudor cottages and a dark wooden-windowed village shop. Hardy himself liked to drink at the 16th-century Acorn Inn here, which he called The Sow and Acorn in his tales. And almost next door is Tess Cottage, a white thatched abode – the last resting place of his doomed heroine.
My visit was more joyful however – I was in Evershot to try out the award-winning Grade II Listed Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & Spa, set in four acres of beautifully tended gardens.
Surrounded by rolling hills, this luxurious bijou five star country house exhibits oodles of charm, with a staff who bend over backwards to accommodate guests’ every request, big or small.
Thoughtfully-appointed plush bedrooms, with sinkable beds, are individually and lovingly decorated with traditional elegance. And the fact they also welcomed my Mini Malshi Pixie along too to this This Relais and Chateaux hotel (that’s a Maltese Terrier cross with toy Shih Tzu for those not in the know), made it all the more fun.
Guests are met with attention to detail at every turn. An example of this is hotel’s stunning hedge sundial in the front garden, planted by Summer Lodge’s former gardener John Eke ten years ago. It holds perfect time and when the clocks go forward or back there is a hidden moveable big pot underground which you can twist to put the middle tree in the correct position.
The best place to start enjoying Summer Lodge is the spa, set in the most relaxing spot, with the hotel’s kitchen garden growing herbs and veg around its beautifully light pool. A sauna and whirlpool were exactly the right temperature and kept my mother and I blissfully warm, while we waited for our massage treatments.
The spa uses 100% natural, pure highly active ingredients. All massages start with a thorough analysis of the areas on which you need the most focus. Both our therapists were considerate and experienced, making it easy for us to relax and have any tensions melted away. As we wandered back to our rooms in our Summer Lodge robes, which is encouraged, for a moment we considered going straight to dinner dressed as such, so relaxed we felt.
But make a little effort we did and it was worth it, for the three-rosette fine dining restaurant came up trumps. While enjoying an aperitif and amuse bouche on its pretty patio, we pondered menu choices. We chose delicate scallop and beef dishes to start, most gracefully presented with small touches, such as edible flowers for example on the fish. Mains were a tian of summer vegetables and a rump of Dorset lamb, with a mushroom and Madeira puree, fondant potato and sautéed wild mushrooms. Puds were a ginger crème brûlée with spiced pineapple, sable Biscuit and lime ice cream and a rhubarb fool, both of which were so delicious we had to finish them in their entirety, much to the chagrin of our poor full stomachs. After a mint tea on the terrace however, we sauntered back to our room and slept like babies.
The next morning, having devoured a brilliant gourmet buffet of fruits and delicate breakfast delights, including sharing eggs benedict, we decided to walk off our indulgence. Luckily a short walk away was Melbury Park, a deer park and scenic country estate in Melbury Sampford – seat of the Strangways family of Dorset, since the estate was sold in 1500. Wandering around the gorgeous setting with our dog, with its fauna, flora, foothills and follys, on one of the hottest days of the year, we both agreed the UK staycation is most underrated.
Prices start from £193.50 per room for a ‘Classic Room’. Massages start from around £45.00. More information can be found on the Summer Lodge website here.
Address: 9 Fore St, Evershot, Dorchester DT2 0JR
Phone: 01935 482000