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Stay here: The Salutation

Very rare that I gush, but The Salutation is about to get it with two barrels for its fantastic offering for grown-ups in a stunning Sandwich setting.

THE LOWDOWN

Muddy is a place of positivity and you won’t hear me moaning on – but obviously it goes without saying that, like anyone, juggling work, being a full-time mum and everything else that life throws at you can ocassionally leave me feeling well a smidge stretched (or in fact totally burnt out/frazzled). That’s how I felt a couple of months back when Mr Muddy and I headed to The Salutation for a rare overnight treat sans enfants.

I’d been dying to visit this boutique hotel in Sandwich for a couple of years now. Not only was it a worthy Finalist in the Best Boutique Stays category in the Muddy Stilettos Awards 2019, it also won Romantic Hotel of The Year in the Good Hotel Guide (2019).

Very rare that I gush, but The Salutation is about to get it with two barrels for its fantastic offering for grown-ups on the Kent coastline. It’s such a well kept secret too, which is selfishly how I’d like it to stay. But that’s not really in the job description… So shhhh, just keep it between us, right?

This striking, red-brick, Queen Anne-style house, designed by Lutyens, is luxury boutique hotel, fine-dining restaurant, magnificent gardens, top-notch café, plant nursery and stylish shop all rolled into one.

John and Dorothy Fothergill took over the 17-bedroom boutique hotel in December 2016 when former owners and stars of Channel 4’s Gogglebox Dom and Steph Parker decided to move on. Together with the new team, they refurbed and redesiged the bedrooms in the main house, and reconfigured the ground floor into a new space for dining, drinks and afternoon tea.

They’ve managed to pull off quite the magic trick – creating a non-pretentious, warm and friendly yet deeply foodie and slickly-run venture. There’s an exclusive, special-occasion feel to this place – and yet retaining that totally, relaxed, at-home vibe that you get on our honest and laid-back Kentish coastline. And don’t even get me started on the gardens. They are simply stunning. Just look at these pics…

THE LOCATION

Driving from west Kent I’m yet to find a route over to Sandwich that takes me less than an hour and a half, but it’s worth it every time. Sandwich is a small, pretty town, directly south of Canterbury. It’s quite a sleepy part of Kent, but with the sea, (Sandwich Bay), not far away, up-and-coming Deal in one direction or Ramsgate and Broadstairs in the other, you’re well situated for exploring. The Salutation itself sits near the marina on the bank of the River Stour.

THE VIBE

The interiors here have been beautifully done from the bar, pictured above and below, to the bedrooms.

PILLOW TALK

Built as a country retreat by Sir Edward Lutyens in 1912 for three wealthy brothers, The Salutation has evolved over the past century from a grand private residence (the first 20th century building to be granted Grade I status, in 1950) into its current guise as a stylish 17-bedroom boutique hotel.

We stayed in William, the room named after the youngest of the three Farrar brothers whose master suites wrap around the first floor. William contains the largest bed in the house, or probably the town, possibly the country (pictured above). It was unbelievably comfy and, by their own admission, hell to buy linen for.

The view out our window, pictured top right, was just stunning. The bathroom was also spacious and smart – I popped myself in the bath so you could get an idea of the scale of this tub! There’s lots of lovely touches here – like the Hand & Body Wash and Moisturising Shampoo provided being made from botanicals picked from The Salutation gardens (they’re available to buy in the shop – more on this below – for £10 and make great gifts).

SCOFF & QUAFF

Whether it is residents’ breakfast, the laid-back lunch menu, Afternoon Tea on the terrace, or a la carte dining or our Tasting Room menu, The Salutation describe themselves as ‘cult-like’ in their obsession with local sourcing and in-house production.

Mr Muddy and I enjoyed the Tasting Room Menu in the evening and it was all outstanding. You walk down to the new state-of-the-art kitchen and dining space so you can see the chef and his team at work on your dishes. We were staying on the overnight and dine experience but the restaurant is popular with locals who just come for the food too.

If you’re a true gastronaut, you’re gonna love it here – because the exceptional kitchen is the beating heart of The Salutation. Head Chef, Shane Hughes (previously of Thackeray’s in Tunbridge Wells), brings his Michelin and AA Rosette credentials to this corner of Kent.

Special nod to sous chef Jack Grundon and his brother Callum who were on hand the weekend of our visit and for whom nothing was too much trouble. In fact, all the staff are very friendly and knowledgeable without being overly intrusive or checking up on you too many times.

Tasting menus aren’t to everyone’s, er, taste. And definitely not a meal for children. But I’ve heard rumours of a Sunday lunch to die for (available from midday – 2.30pm every Sunday).

And throughout the rest of the week, a more casual lunch is available every day in the bar, the upper dining room and, when the sun shines, on the terraces. So definitely something for everyone here.

Our Tasting Menu started with the most delicious selection of homemade bread, followed by Poached Quail. Then, continuing with the theme of originality, we were served with Lobster Dog (a mini hot shaped sausage made with lobster) served in a Chinese Laverbread Bun, with Fermented Funnel & Mustard Vinaigrette (see pics above).

Above, Mr Muddy eating breakfast on the terrace where we enjoyed a stunning breakfast of pancakes, poached eggs, smashed avo, bacon, fresh orange juice. Ahhh, remember the feeling of sunshine?

OUT & ABOUT

As if sitting on the terrace feeling very smug at our child-free night and morning wasn’t heavenly enough, we then mooched around the shop which has everything from bath and beauty products made from botanicals picked from The Salutation gardens to antiques and interior items, all at brilliant prices (great pressie options to thank whoever looked after your mudlets/dog etc while you escaped for the night!)

Sandwich itself has very pretty parts to the town, much of which is rich with history – there’s pretty Sandwich Quay and lots of timber framed terraces lining the streets.

If you’re coming from further afield and want to explore the local area, you’re not far from the coast for walking or for a kid-friendly activity head to Port Lympne Reserve (Kent’s only safari park) or Howletts Wild Animal Park (both part of animal conservation charity, The Aspinall Foundation) which make perfect family day trips.

KID-FRIENDLY?

The main hotel definitely has a grown-up feel at The Salutation, but there are some great family-friendly options too. The Coach House, and Gardener’s Cottage are ideal if you are visiting with sprogs in tow. Each cottage is completely private, with multiple bedrooms and a large living room. Both have fully equipped kitchens, washing machines and dishwashers but also lots of extras like high chairs, travel cots – even children’s cutlery, stair gates, and a baby monitor to help make your stay as easy as possible.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Super foodies, Sunday-lunchers, discerning boutiquey-explorers, romantics. couples desperate for a night away, special occasioners but also family escapes too.

Not for: Spa-searchers – there’s no pool or massage huts. Also, to my mind, unless you’re staying in the Coach House, and Gardener’s Cottage this is better for a grown-up escape/recharging bolt hole – so maybe leave the mudlets at home?

£££: Sunday lunch menus are good value at £29.50 for 3 courses but the Full Tasting Menu is around £75 per person before you drink anything, so more for the foodies prepared to splash out. Although I would argue it’s value for money. To stay the night, off season pricing starts from £168 per room, including breakfast.

MUDDY EXCLUSIVE OFFER on overnight stay – full details here.

The Salutation, Knightrider Street, Sandwich, Kent, CT13 9EW, Tel: 01304 619919, the-salutation.com

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