It is perhaps only fitting that a hotel whose address is Ham, Sandwich should be based around the restaurant. The Samphire Restaurant at the Blazing Donkey Hotel prides itself on using locally sourced food and the meal we had was good.
The heart of the hotel is a 18th-century hostelry, to which has been added separate courtyard accommodation to take the total of rooms to 22. Most of these are on the ground floor and all have en-suite bathroom, flat-screen televisions and free wi-fi access.
The beds are comfortable, and the décor understated, with golfing prints on the wall. Neither the advertised 24-hour room service nor reception answered the telephone when I locked myself out of my room at 1am (in the purposes of research you understand, not that I am a nitwit who had grabbed the wrong keys from my room earlier), but the night porter came rapidly and cheerfully to my aid.
The Blazing Donkey is popular with golfers and as a wedding venue – marooned rather in the middle of nowhere, it is not positioned to attract passing trade. Within a short drive (we’re talking car here, not 1-wood) are several splendid golf courses, including three of the 14 to have hosted the Open Championship – Prince’s, Royal St Georges and Royal Cinque Ports.
The owner, Richard Martin, is a 10-handicapper who has been keen playing his golf in the area for over 30 years. Stuart Dale has recently been appointed the hotel’s golf manager, and he will put together packages for golfers, such as a two-night stay with dinner and three rounds of golf for £259 in winter and £399 in summer.
Rooms on a b&b basis from £80 a night. The Blazing Donkey Country Hotel, Hay Hill, Ham, Sandwich, Kent, CT14 0ED; 01304 617362; www.blazingdonkey.co.uk.