Prince's Golf Club and The Lodge at Prince's, Sandwich
PUBLISHED: 10:58 09 April 2013 | UPDATED: 15:49 10 April 2013
With championship Links golf, versatile accommodation and a seaside location, you can also enjoy the delights of a swish new brasserie when you stay at The Lodge at Prince's
Not only offering championship Links golf, versatile accommodation and a seaside location, you can also enjoy the delights of a swish new brasserie when you stay at The Lodge at Princes
As a complete non-golfer, I did worry in advance that I would stand out like a sore thumb at The Lodge, the accommodation and dining arm of Princes Golf Club on the Bay of Sandwich. But I was soon to find out it is so much more.
Driving along the private coastal road, with views across the English Channel and over to the White Cliffs of Ramsgate on one side and sweeping golf links on the other, it was hard not to get into holiday mode albeit one with a bracing east coast wind thrown in and a silvery rather than Mediterranean blue sky.
The Lodge, which opened in May 2012 and is based on the original 1906 building which burnt down 30 years ago, has 12 bedrooms across two floors and two suites, all en suite, all with tea and coffee-making facilities and plenty of storage for your clubs.
In addition, The Lodge Houses offer a further 12 two-bedroomed apartments each with their own lounge, ideal for groups and societies for up to four people sharing. Stunning views are thrown in for free.
I got to stay in the Links Suite, a huge space with a heather and pale grey colour scheme, a big squashy sofa and two matching armchairs facing the huge flat-screen TV, glass-topped tables of different sizes and lots of desk space.
Theres a gleaming white bathroom with a standalone, all-glass shower cabinet, and a little kitchen area with a fridge, sink and kettle.
You wont find frillies like packets of biscuits or a chocolate on your pillow, but the hangers are silk padded, there are power points everywhere, wi-fi is free (and you get the code as soon as you check in without having to go through lots of hoops to connect up), lighting is great and there are loads of mirrors including a full-length one.
I met up in the bar with My Work Colleague, who was joining me for dinner in the new Brasserie on the Bay. We chatted with manager John George over very fine G&Ts, accompanied by tasty canaps of Bloody Mary jelly, seared beef and salmon sushi.
While around 75 per cent of guests are golfers, attracted by 27 holes of championship Links golf, practice facilities and a central clubhouse (with its own restaurant), there are others, like me, who are here to relax, rest, enjoy a walk along the beach and, hopefully, a great meal at the end of the day.
Chef Michael Fowler didnt disappoint and I wasnt surprised to learn that the Brasserie is fast gaining a reputation as a standalone dining destination. Like the rest of The Lodge, its a contemporary, stylish space warmed by a wood-burning stove, with square tables on a single pedestal, comfortable chairs upholstered in grey, low-hanging cream lampshades and a splash of colour provided by a big coastal scene of Sandwich Bay.
Our food doesnt travel, John George had told me, citing the butcher in Sandwich who provides all their meat, and of course the sheer bounty offered by the coast a few hundred yards away.
And you can tell that immediately from a short menu (four starters, three mains) that doesnt shy away from being both seasonal and challenging, with brave choices like ravioli of braised oxtail, pork cheek and Pollock.
The cooking style is equally confident - my smoked haddock tartlette with lentils, leeks and a hollandaise-topped poached egg was a very grown-up version of a nursery favourite, while MWCs wild mushrooms with a toasted croquette was darkly delicious and full flavoured.
Robust flavours characterised our mains, despite, my notes remind me, describing my choice at the time as a crazy pork medley. That medley consisted of succulent slow-braised pork cheek with roasted belly (which makes for great crackling), cooked with Agen prunes and gorgeous apple gel and served with impeccable Boulangre potatoes.
Not crazy at all, but this is not cooking for the fainthearted and I was starting to wish Id done a few rounds of golf rather than lounge around in my suite before dinner
My beef aficionado friend was very complimentary about her slow-braised pulled beef, which made quite a mighty tower on the plate and was topped with baby chargrilled leeks. Tortellini and fondant potatoes completed the dish, which MWC described as meltingly tender and beautifully offset by a dark, sticky sauce of depth and character.
While wed ate exclusively from the table dhte at this point, chef was keen that we sampled his Tasting Menu, so we opted to share a baked chocolate velout with ice cream unfortunately it was spearmint, not my favourite, and melting by the time we got it so possibly not at its best.
MWC fared better with that all-time classic lemon meringue pie, which she adored, but I again lucked out with a rather chilly, walnut-coated blue cheese mousse with Rosemary biscuits all a bit oaty looking and very strongly flavoured.
Service is delightful young Molly looked after us beautifully and lo and behold, was there at breakfast too, clearly secretly marvelling that one woman could eat so much as I tucked into smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, fresh orange juice and good coffee.
Id slept brilliantly and had to be practically dragged away from my room at check-out time, as it was all so peaceful and a great place to work as well, especially with views of other people hitting golf balls around on a chilly misty morning.
Right, time to hit the gym I think and plan a return visit in the sunshine.
Where: Prince's Golf Club and The Lodge at Prince's
Sandwich CT13 9QB
What: chic, modern accommodation with an exciting restaurant
How much: bed and breakfast 95 Single), 120 (double), 240 apartment
When: Brasserie on the Bay open for lunch 12-2pm, 12.50 for two courses and 16.50 for three, plus two-course dinner 22.50, three courses 28.50, 6.30pm-9pm.