Dorset is a diverse county. It’s the glitzy playground of the rich and famous, home to some of the nation’s best blue-flag beaches, as well as picturesque villages littered with historic thatched cottages. If you plan on staying in the UK this summer, this region will rival many overseas holiday options and is easily accessed from across the country by road, rail or air.
Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa
It’s one of the best-known spa hotels in the country, attracting celebrities and well-heeled guests seeking serenity. But there’s much more to this country house hotel. Hands-on foodies can build on existing culinary skills with a course at the kitchen school, nature lovers can explore the New Forest or take a trip to the sea, while family-friendly treehouse apartments complete with hot tubs make for an unusual and memorable school holiday getaway. And of course, you mustn’t miss some of the most exquisite body and facial treatments in the UK. If you’re short on time or passing through the area, spa day packages are also available.
Found on the banks of the River Frome, The Priory is an independently owned boutique hotel, with a renowned fine dining restaurant on Dorset’s south coast. Bedrooms are all unique, cosy, decorated in soft hues and furnished with unique antique pieces. Some are in the Main House, with others right beside the water in the Boat House. The dining room – serving meals all day from breakfast through to dinner – has a classic country house feel, with green oak beams, fine china and luxury Mulberry Home interiors. Very much a grown-up residence, The Priory is reserved for guests aged 14 and over.
Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & Restaurant
This elegant Relais and Chateaux property and spa is found among the rolling green fields of Evershot. Listed as one of the Best Country House Hotels in Britain by The Daily Telegraph in 2019, awarded Hotel Restaurant of the Year at the Dorset Food & Drinks Awards in 2017 and voted No. 2 Top Hotel in the UK at the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards in 2017, the Lodge has an array of accolades to its name. Rooms and cottages are peaceful, comfortable, yet regal in style. Fine dining is de rigueur, while the bar is home to over 300 whiskies.
The Greenhouse Dorset
If you’d prefer to holiday at the heart of the action, Bournemouth is the go-to destination in Dorset. Relax at this boutique eco-hotel just minutes from the town centre’s array of shops, eateries, nightlife and beaches. The Greenhouse offers first-class facilities, and a two rosette restaurant, Arbor. Having collaborated with the nutritionist Barbara Cox, the hotel caters ably for vegan, vegetarian and special diets, with an all-round focus on wellness and sustainability. Take part in yoga sessions, hikes or enjoy some one on one pampering from the treatment menu, in the comfort of your own room.
Dating back to the early 17th century and found in Thomas Hardy’s homeland, Plumber Manor remains the Prideaux-Brunes family residence. As a result, the feel is homely and familial, with a warm welcome from the handpicked team of food and hospitality experts. The Jacobean manor has also been a hotel for four decades, flanked by pretty gardens and a stream. Options for activities include organised shoots, a trip to nearby Longleat and leisurely dog walks (there are a number of pooch-friendly rooms). Or spend some ‘me time’ reclining in a deckchair close to nature as you’re served some of Dorset’s finest cocktails.