Where have we been?
The Priory in Wareham, Dorset is a stunning English country hotel steeped in history. Located next to the Lady St Mary Church, the Priory dates back to the Saxon era, many beautiful features have been retained, creating an enchanting atmosphere. It was used for 500 years as a residence for the Priory Monks, and before that, a Convent of Nuns.
Set on the banks of The River Frome, there are endless riverside and countryside views, and a private mooring if you choose to arrive by boat. You can enjoy lounging in the gardens which stretch over four acres, or have a quick game of Croquet before Afternoon Tea.
I was very curious to experience the newly refurbished dining room and so booked dinner for a wintry night in October as this is when I think the hotel is most inviting. We were shown into the ornate Drawing Room complete with a roaring log fire, antiques and various artworks reflecting the unique history of the building. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxing pre-dinner drink and canapes whilst choosing from the mouth-watering selection of dishes including many locally sourced products.
Menu decisions made, we wondered through to the Dining Room which is beautifully spacious, oak beamed, overlooking the river, and decorated in shades of teal and bronze. The floor to ceiling glass walls provide uninterrupted views, and can be opened in the summer to create an outdoor experience.
We had Grilled Cornish Mackerel and Chicken Liver & Foie Gras Parfait to start, both of which were fresh, tasty and beautifully presented. We followed this with the Devon Farm Chateaubriand, Rissole Potatoes, Watercress, Grilled Cherry Tomatoes and a Béarnaise Sauce, this really was the 'Main' event of the evening and was absolutely mouth-watering! They make a point not to serve this with a steak knife as the meat is so tender that you do not need one. The Chateaubriand was enjoyed with the perfect glass of Pinot Noir recommended by our very knowledgeable waiter. For Pudding, we had White Wine Poached Pear and Warm Thai Rice Pudding - both of which were light and sweet, the perfect finish a wonderful Dinner.
Retiring to the Drawing Room for Coffee accompanied by some tiny but tempting Petit Fours, we realised that we hadn't had such old fashioned, attentive service in many months and it was not only refreshing, but felt like such a treat! The hotel has been privately owned and managed by the same family for over 40 years and this is really reflected in the whole experience here - I am already planning my next visit which I hope will include an overnight stay in one of the pretty rooms in either the main hotel, or in the Boathouse situated directly over the river.
Overall review of The Priory - You simply must go!!