With broad sweeping bays and dramatic rugged cliffs, the Jurassic Coast in Dorset is among the most popular natural attractions in the UK – and a fossil hunter’s paradise, especially along Charmouth Beach. History buffs will also find the quintessential English county brimming with stately castles, manor houses and ancient inns – some of which are now boutique hotels. Here’s our pick – bookable with Culture Trip.
This fabulously traditional inn is in the lovely Dorset village of Trent – just outside the storybook market town of Sherborne – with roots tracing as far back as the 14th century. With its crackling wood fire, authentic cask ales and friendly regular locals, it’s a quintessential pub with buckets of character. Guest rooms are inside a converted cowshed and come with top amenities such as luxury double showers, quality bedding and terraces overlooking the pretty surroundings.
The Pilot Boat is a restored Grade II-listed building set in the buckets-and-spades seaside town of Lyme Regis. A jaunty nautical vibe prevails, with stripy seating, rope lighting and numerous seafaring prints. Traditionally styled rooms come with some impressively high-end amenities, such as Dyson hairdryers, Roberts radios and White Company toiletries – as well as fab sea views. An all-day restaurant boasts a top breakfast menu, a pizza oven and cracking bloody marys.
A real slice of Dorset’s romantic past, Plumber Manor is a fine Jacobean country house still owned and run by the same family that built it in the early 17th century. Its serene garden setting is surrounded by a scenic rolling landscape as far as the eye can see. Classically elegant guest rooms are split between the main house and stone barn, many with dreamy views. What’s more, its refined restaurant is a local favourite. Resident black labs and snuffling pigs add to the country charm. You can even bring your own – dog, that is.
Set in the smart Dorset village of Beaminster, this chicly updated boutique hotel is a former clergy house dating from the 14th century. A thriving local art community has filled the interiors with all manner of paintings and sculpture. One half of the husband-and-wife team is a former Michelin-star chef, so this restaurant with rooms boasts outstanding dining. With cool modern-classic English decor, the guest rooms reflect an overall package of top-quality rural lodgings.
This Grade II-listed Palladian mansion was built in the early 17th century, and today, it’s one of the top luxury hotels in Dorset. It looks and feels every inch the stately home, with its beautifully landscaped grounds and elegant interiors. It’s home to an impressive art collection, too, with local names sharing walls with the likes of Banksy and Hirst. Dining is suitably refined, and the rooms are calming havens of high-end bedding and lovely garden views.
This countryside gastropub with rooms is deservedly known as one of the finest places for eating and drinking in the area. There’s everything from lobster and steak to wood-fired pizzas and fish and chips (gourmet style, of course), as well as a wine cellar that champions small, independent winemakers. Guest rooms are sumptuous with big beds and feather covers. If you’re after a treat, Room 6 features an extravagant roll-top bath – perfect for soaking à deux.
Set in a fairytale yellow manor house, the Pig on the Beach is a gloriously quirky mix of Victoriana, rustic charm and seaside nostalgia. It’s surrounded by lush gardens, with superb views out to the Old Harry Rocks sea stacks – the easternmost point of the Jurassic Coast. The walled Kitchen Garden (a signature of the Pig mini-chain) keeps the restaurant supplied with fresh produce – the rest is locally sourced. Bedrooms fuse luxury touches with homely charm, and when you fancy some pampering, you can book a massage in the Potting Shed treatment room.
From the creators of the Groucho Club in London comes this homage to the classic British Edwardian hotels of old – as distinctive as it is nostalgic. It mixes rejuvenated furniture and fittings from the ’20s to the ’80s with marine salvage pieces, such as nautical paintings, to create a timeless atmosphere of seaside sophistication. Rooms are all goose down, Egyptian cotton and sea views, while an enviable setting overlooking the stunning Hive Beach, with its must-try cafe, adds to its undeniable appeal. Naturally, you’ll want to drop anchor at the hotel’s restaurant, too, where plates of Dover sole and Lyme Bay shellfish wash down nicely with crisp glasses of white wine.
Looking for more places to stay in stunning Dorset? Check out our pick of the best hotels in Dorset for every traveller, bookable on Culture Trip.