The Abode Hotel, Canterbury reviewed

Need a short break to recharge your batteries? There's a very stylish solution right here in Kent

The Abode Hotel, Canterbury reviewed

By Shelley Whittaker

I’d heard good things about ABode, but a short break on my doorstep? Would it really feel like an escape from the hustle and bustle of my manic life?

One step through the door of our Enviable room and I was won over! Work and mummy duties faded into the distance in an instant and I was ready for some serious indulgence. I may have been in Canterbury, just 30 miles from home, but I could have been a million miles away.

This stylish boutique hotel has been open since 2006 and, despite its elegant glass frontage on the High Street, nestles into the bustling city unobtrusively.

The 16th-century building has been transformed internally into a clean-lined, modern oasis and, once you step out of reception, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in a quiet, yet stylish guest house, as there’s no feel of the corporate hotel chain about this quirky abode.

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The building was first licensed as a hotel in 1892 and there are traces of its age throughout -sloping floors, beautiful beams - but overall, this is a hotel for the future.

We visited on a Soul on Fire package, the ultimate in luxurious overnight stays. With a price tag of �329 per couple, this is a package for a special occasion, but includes complimentary flowers in the room, glass of Champagne, and the exquisite seven-course tasting menu in the award-winning Michael Caines restaurant.

The room was faultless and full of contemporary style with an integral glass panelled bathroom with freestanding, double-ended bath tucked behind the bedhead, plus a wetroom.

The bed was huge and would have dwarfed our usual kingsize and came complete with cushions galore. A sofa, LCD TV and DVD player were complimented by a range of magazines and box of goodies.

Frankly, I’d have been happy to luxuriate in a bath, don the his and hers robes, order up a bottle of Champagne and make a night of it, but we were booked in to the restaurant for a mighty seven-course meal and the temptation on the taste buds was too great.

The restaurant itself is not huge, and when we booked in earlier in the day and asked to move our reservation back a bit, I was expecting to be told they couldn’t accommodate a time shift. But it was no problem, and when we stepped into the restaurant that evening we realised why – there was only one other couple dining, which was a shock and, to be frank, a bit odd.

With the other couple already at the end of their meal, we were served by three sommeliers/waiters and truly had the restaurant to ourselves for most of the evening. The service was professional and personal, as you’d expect with such a staff ratio!

The quiet night was unusual, they said. And Thursdays were usually quite busy...perhaps the rest of Canterbury had heard we were coming!

The meal kicked off with a glass of Michael Caines’ Blanc de Blanc Champagne, a Chardonnay, and a selection of canap�s which included melt-in-the-mouth cheese goug�res.

We opted for a local Kentish wine to accompany our meal - Chapel Down’s English Rose 2009 (�30.50).

The courses began with crab cannelloni with citrus salad and crab and ginger sauce. The crab was from Griggs of Hythe, and the sauce added a nice tangy flavour.

Next up was pan-fried veal sweetbread, mushroom tortellini, spinach and Gewurztraminer sauce. The textures of the dish complimented one another and the flavours worked well together.

Pan-fried sea bass was next, with spiced fennel pur�e, glazed button onions and fennel cream sauce. Then it was mature rib eye of Kentish beef, Jerusalem artichoke and truffle pur�e, brunoise of vegetables and beef broth.

The dishes were not huge, as you would expect with a tasting menu, but by this point we were feeling satisfyingly full and were glad to sit back and relax a bit over a selection of regional cheeses, grapes and biscuits.

Then a pre dessert cleared our palates ready for the hot pistachio souffl� with pistachio anglaise and pistachio ice cream, which had me beat despite its incredible combination of textures and temperatures.

The sea bass course and pistachio souffl� won the taste test hands down for both of us.

The usual cost of the tasting menu is �68 per head, and is money worth spending. For �103 per head, you get a glass of wine matched to each course as well.

We lounged in the comfy sofas in the Champagne bar afterwards, which late birds will be glad to know is open all night for residents. But the Enviable room was soon calling and delivered on its promise of a good night’s sleep.

Tummies still full from the night before, we didn’t really need a full breakfast, but were glad we indulged as it didn’t disappoint.

Booking at Abode is advisable and can be done online. A la carte and table d’h�te menus are also available, with special early dining offers of �16.95 for two courses or �24 for three for guests seated between 6pm and 7pm.

THE ESSENTIALS

Where: ABode, 30-33 High Street, Canterbury CT1 2RX

Tel: 01227 766266

Email: tablescanterbury@michaelcaines.com

What: A quality restaurant for a fine dining experience.

What’s the damage: From �16.95 for two courses to �68 for seven-course tasting menu. Expect to pay upwards of �30 for a bottle of wine

When: 12noon-2.30pm, 6pm-10pm

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