White-gloved service, smart spas and charm in abundance – welcome to the most superlative stays in this scenic South West corner of England, from Chesil Beach to the Sherborne countryside, bookable on Culture Trip.
Long stretches of Jurassic Coast, hidden coves and majestic cliffs, lush rolling hills, wild woodland and an endless patchwork of hedgerow-trimmed fields – Dorset’s natural beauty takes some beating. This scenic county in England’s South West corner has a richly storied past – revealed via a landscape dotted with grand castles, stately houses and ancient churches. As you’d expect, there are some swanky spots to stay, too, if you fancy a blow-the-budget break in one of Britain’s top holiday destinations.
Combine a deluxe spa with award-winning dining and an attractive riverside setting, and you have the Captain’s Club Hotel near Christchurch. Every one of the guest rooms features scenic views over the River Stour through floor-to-ceiling windows, as well as some top amenities such as Bose Bluetooth speakers and a Nespresso coffee machine. Push the boat out for a top suite with added perks including an open-plan kitchen-lounge-diner, plus your own private cinema room – a nice touch.
This classic Georgian country house, set in four acres (1.6ha) of manicured gardens, is as idyllic as it sounds. It’s located in the super-quaint village of Evershot, deep in Dorset’s picturesque rural heart. Its farm-to-fork fine dining is some of the region’s finest, while a snug fire-warmed bar serves expertly mixed cocktails and an impressive choice of whiskies. Pampering is your thing? There’s a fancy spa with a big conservatory-pitched pool and a long list of treatments to make you feel all “ahhh”.
Owned and run by descendants of the original Prideaux-Brune family who built it in the 1600s, Plumber Manor is a beautifully maintained Jacobean country crib, set in timeless Dorset countryside. Accommodation reflects the house, classically elegant with a cosy, homely vibe and occasional historical touches. Dining here is a real treat, with a menu of hearty-yet-refined country fare – its Sunday lunch is particularly popular among the locals. A tennis court and croquet lawn provide genteel outdoor activities.
There’s so much to enjoy at the Christchurch Harbour Hotel, you’ll likely find it hard to leave during your stay. For starters, the spa offers everything from heated swimming and hydrotherapy pools, to a sauna, steam and salt rooms, plus Espa treatments. For dining, the multi-award-winning Jetty restaurant serves up locally caught seafood with fabulous harbour views. Rooms are full of luxury touches, such as Egyptian cotton sheets and Nespresso machines, not to mention free gin and sherry. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
The Poole outpost of the luxury wine-themed chain, Hotel du Vin Poole has all the suave sophistication you’d expect from the boutique mini brand. It’s housed in an ivy-clad, red-brick mansion on a narrow cobbled lane just off the town’s historic quayside. Rooms are a real highlight, with luxury comforts including soft Egyptian-cotton bed linen, huge custom-made beds and fluffy robes. A bistro offers classic French or modern British cuisine, accompanied by one of the finest wine cellars in town.
Made famous by J. Meade Falkner’s novel Moonfleet, the eponymous manor has been a Dorset coast landmark since being built in the 17th century. Later remodelled in a more Georgian style, it was converted into this impressive luxury hotel. A great bonus for families is the free crèche where parents can drop kids before a swim in one of three heated pools. The all-weather Verandah is home to numerous activities for all ages (toys, trampolines, a skittle alley), plus the hotel’s Jurassic Coast setting – overlooking Chesil Beach – puts endless outdoor pursuits on your doorstep.
Formerly a Georgian gentleman’s residence, this red-brick mansion added a bijou spa, refined rooms and renowned restaurant as the Eastbury Hotel. A modern update has retained much of its original period character, while a lovely walled garden provides a genuinely tranquil slice of nature in the centre of Sherborne town. The well-regarded restaurant serves modern British meals using local produce. The Pod – a glass sphere set in the garden – also provides an above-the-ordinary dining experience.
Few hotels in Dorset can match the quirky-yet-upscale charm of the Pig on the Beach, from the popular Pig mini chain. Brimming with period curios and vintage touches, this fairytale-esque property feels wonderfully one-off. Its coastal hillside setting also means fabulous views over Studland Bay and its sweep of golden sand. Much of the ingredients cooked up in the restaurant come straight from their own kitchen-garden. A fabulous choice of quarters range from the super-snug to thatched dovecotes, many with roll-top tubs and fine sea views.
Courtesy of the Seaside Boarding House / Booking.com
This homage to the classic British Edwardian hotel mixes up shameless seaside nostalgia with luxury-level lodgings and superlative sea vistas. They lay claim to one of the finest dining rooms in the country, where local and seasonal are a given, and the sun setting over Lyme Bay adds to the refined, romantic atmosphere. Rooms all have sea views and are geared towards comfort and contemplation, with goose-down bedding, no TVs and a stack of books to browse.
These recommendations were updated on June 15, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.