Kent August hotel of the month

Stand outside The Bell in Sandwich and your eyes could be deceived, as its historic exterior hides chic modern rooms and fine dining

Kent August hotel of the month

Stand outside The Bell in Sandwich and your eyes could be deceived, as its historic exterior hides chic modern rooms and fine dining

The Bell sits right alongside the tollgate in this historic market town, and with some rooms overlooking the tranquil River Stour, it’s a perfect setting for a quiet getaway.

The Bell has been enjoying guests since Tudor times and a warm welcome is very much on the cards under the present manager Matt Collins and his staff.

It’s a place you immediately feel at home in, and the attentiveness of staff is second to none.

The lobby area is great for relaxing in and, although the bedrooms and dining areas are contemporary, the whole hotel retains traditional elements which set it apart from purely modern boutique hotels.

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One quirky feature I particularly liked was the luggage theme...old leather suitcases adorn the reception area, and the room keys come complete with a huge luggage tag.

The bedrooms are all decorated individually. Our room faced the river and had ceiling to floor doors which led to a tiny balcony with chairs – perfect for people watching and enjoying the quiet river as the sun went down. The room was an average size, with a combination of modern and traditional furnishings.

We ate in the light, airy restaurant as it opened for the evening, seated on a window table which meant we could both watch the world go by as we dined. We were impressed at the number of diners for a Monday night.

For starters I had locally sourced crab and spring onion in rice paper with chilli and coriander – a perfect combination of flavours, with the chilli giving it a little zing. My friend had crispy duck egg as she was intrigued by its name – it was, in effect, a posh Scotch egg, served with local asparagus and watercress.

Sourcing local produce is important for head chef Stephen Piddock, and we decided to compliment such an array of Kentish food with a Chapel Down Bacchus 2010 (�23.50).

For our main courses I chose rump of Romney Marsh lamb as I can never resist it! It was served with Ni�oise, Rosemary and garlic. The lamb was tasty, although flavour combinations weren’t terribly adventurous. My friend had the daily fish special which was freshly caught black bream served with new potatoes, spinach and parmesan salad.

Chocolate desserts and coffee taken on the comfortable sofas in the reception area rounded off a lovely evening before a comfortable sleep and then a full English breakfast, again with much produce sourced locally.

The Essentials

The Bell, The Quay, Sandwich, Kent CT13 9EF

01304 613388

reservations@bellhotelsandwich.co.uk

Room rates: Rooms are from �95 for a single, �110 for a standard double, �170 for the River View with Balcony King room, and �225 for a suite with four-poster. Prices include breakfast. Packages are also available on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis.

Dining:

Starters on the � la carte menu range from �6-�9, and main courses from �13.50-�19.95. Desserts are around �6.

Meet the chef

Stephen Piddock, head chef at The Bell in Sandwich

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’d worked with Matt Collins (the manager) previously and when the opportunity arose at The Bell, I decided it was right up my street. I’ve been here three years. When I’m not in the kitchen, I’m usually playing golf, cricket and spending time in the garden.

What’s your signature dish?

Sardine and local beetroot terrine with pickled Marsh samphire.

Your top cookery tip?

Buy local and seasonal produce - we are really lucky to have some fantastic growers in the Garden of England who supply good-quality, fish, meat, fruit and vegetables.

Who has influenced you most ?

All of the chefs I have worked with but in particular Ron Maxfield, my executive chef at Cliveden, Taplow - a fantastic creative chef.  

Your must-have kitchen gadget?

Bamix hand blender - a must for any cook.

Who would you like to cook for?

I would have loved to have cooked for my late grandfather, who passed away before I qualified.

 

 

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