Rising out of the Dorset countryside on the Isle of Purbeck, the sprawling ruins of Corfe Castle in England have been shaped by Normans, Tudors and the Civil War. The idyllic villages and rolling countryside surrounding the castle are packed with cosy boltholes and country manors turned hotels. Here’s our pick of the best, all bookable on Culture Trip.
This boutique hotel sits on the banks of the River Frome in the idyllic village of Wareham. Rooms with gold trim and exposed brick walls whisper of the building’s former life as a priory and are warm and inviting. They’re split across the main house and boathouse – the latter of which sits directly on the river bank so you can fall asleep to the sound of rushing water. The main pull to the Priory Hotel is the fine-dining restaurant that serves contemporary, locally sourced British cuisine.
Dating back to the 18th century, this former coaching inn has been much upgraded since its days welcoming weary travellers on horseback. It’s a far cry from the old leg of mutton at the panelled bar these days, with charcuterie boards piled high with local artisan cheeses and meats washed down with craft cocktails. Each room is named after a famous bear and has its own charm, like freestanding tin baths in the ensuite.
A championship golf course, private fishing lakes and plenty of woodland walks and bike trails – the Dorset Resort is packed with things to do without leaving the grounds. Wooden chalet-style cabins and brick cottages in the woods make up the accommodation, and you can choose to cook in fully equipped kitchens or head to the Fairways restaurant for a three-course meal of locally sourced cuisine. Return to your cosy cottage and get the wood-burning stove crackling before bed.
Honey-brown stone covered with ivy greets you at this traditional country pub. The view from the beer garden stretches across the Dorset countryside to Corfe Castle, which is a five-minute drive away. After a feast of seasonal pub grub – game stews and chunky soups in winter, and jerk chicken from the pop-up shack in summer – it’s just a short plod up the stairs to bed. There are only four bedrooms, keeping things blissfully quiet, all with plush beds and little seating areas.
It’s the views that take the crown at Kingston Country Courtyard. Perched in the countryside between Corfe Castle and Swanage, this hotel is surrounded by woodland walks, beautiful gardens and panoramic views to the crumbling ruin of Corfe Castle. Each bedroom exudes history and charm, with exposed stone walls and timber-beamed ceilings. The Sawmill Restaurant in the lower courtyard serves a menu of local cuisine, like the locally caught catch of the day, and duo of spring lamb with wild garlic.
The Spurwing Guest House is just a short walk from the Saxon market town of Wareham, right next to the train station and a 10-minute drive to Corfe Castle. The chalet-style bungalow is run by a couple who offer exceptional service, and cook a tailored breakfast in the morning. Each of the four rooms is named after local birds, which can sometimes be spotted in the manicured garden at the front of the guesthouse. This is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a few personal touches to their stay.
This Elizabethan manor house sits at the bottom of Corfe Castle, and is designed in the shape of the letter E to honour Queen Elizabeth I’s stay here. Wood-panelled lounges are filled with the tick of a grandfather clock or the crackle of a roaring fire. Lavish suites come with four-poster or sleigh beds and roll-top tubs, while the loft suite has a view of the castle. When it comes to dinner time, a two AA Rosette restaurant awaits with local lobster on the menu, and pre-dinner drinks can be taken on the rose-filled terrace.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
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