Rosie Coxshaw makes like Thomas Hardy and escapes the madding crowd
Call me judgemental, but I can usually tell if I like a place before I even get there based on its website typography. Weird? Snobbish? Perhaps, but a quick glance at The Seaside Boarding House on Chesil Beach, Dorset, promises great things. Its unfussy and clean sans-serif Gill Sans speaks of easy breezy seaside holidays, of squawking seagulls and simple pleasures.
The drive as I approach our lodgings portends greatness too; the country roads, stretching from Abbotsbury to the hotel’s beachside spot, yields breath-taking and panoramic sea views, as the prophesied gulls swoop overhead, setting the tone.
The genuine enthusiasm of the welcome at the Seaside Boarding House is heartwarming; I feel as though I’ve been welcomed into a family home, rather than a hotel, as I am shown to my beautiful quarters. One of just nine rooms at this genuinely boutique affair set high on a hill above the pebble beach, the panoramic views are every bit as spectacular as those on the drive, while the sound of the lapping waves in the distance immediately lulls you into a complete and blissful state of also meditative relaxation. I also note the roll top bath with approval, vowing to have a long soak reading (Hardy – what else?) later, immersed in some bubbles.
The hotel’s renowned restaurant relishes the ease with which it is able to keep things local, fresh and seasonal thanks to nature’s bountiful supplies on its very doorstep; as it is keen to point out, all seafood hails from the sea at its toes, and much of its outstandingly fresh produce is sourced from the countryside at its back. And whether your repast is a simple egg on toast or a more lavish multi-course matter, the quality of the ingredients and their provenance are assured. And that it’s the crux of the Seaside Boarding House; the blend of classic convention with fresh new twists.
The overwhelming sense here is of the removal of hurry; simply, things take as long as they need to. After a delicious cream tea I kick back in a quiet room with my books letting my mind wander – a luxury so rarely afforded in the city. No wonder Mr Hardy found such inspiration here, so far from the madding crowd.