The Best Hotels in Dorset
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The Best Hotels in Dorset

Heading to the Jurassic Coast? Here’s where to rest your head

Known for its iconic coastline and plethora of fossils, Dorset is a sunny southern haven – and, if you’re wondering where to stay, there’s plenty of gorgeous hotels to choose from. Whether you’d like to lounge around a chic hotel, immerse yourself in the Dorset countryside, or you’d prefer a hotel base from which to explore Dorset’s many delights – Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, and the endless sandy beaches to name a few – here are the best hotels in Dorset, C&TH approved.

Read the C&TH Responsible Tourism Guide

The Best Hotels in Dorset

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Exterior of The Seaside Boarding House, a white-panelled hotel on the Jurassic Coast.

The Seaside Boarding House – Burton Bradstock

You’ll find this magnificent hotel on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage site overlooking Lyme Bay. The décor is inspired both by classic Edwardian style and Edward Hopper’s famous Cape Cod paintings – making for delightfully unique spaces that feel at once refreshing and comfortingly familiar. 

The dining opportunities at The Seaside Boarding House are not to be missed: tuck into fresh oysters and crab sandwiches at the bar, or head to the incredible restaurant, where you can enjoy unparalleled views of the Lyme Bay seascape. 

After a day at the beach, sink into a Naturlmat organic mattress – handmade in Devon – and fall asleep to the sound of the sea. It’s a coastal dream.

A bedroom at The Nici, a hotel in Dorset

The Nici – Bournemouth

Boy, this new sassy hotel overlooking West Cliff beach in Bournemouth is a boon for locals and tourists alike – not forgetting those who like ‘gram-friendly photos. Move on tired seaside accommodation with 70s-style menus (not in a good way) and pokey rooms, and usher in the Nici, a bright, airy, fabulously retro (in a good way) hotel with more than a taste of Miami’s South Beach via Cuba sprinkled throughout – plus exceptionally friendly staff. 

From the flamingos (on the walls, by the pool) to the pineapples (on your in-room cocktail shaker and glasses), from the colourful artworks to the music, this place screams fun: sunbathing by the stunningly long pool with its white loungers and cabanas; indulgent Oskia treatments in the grown up spa; homemade pizzas and margaritas at Coco Nuts, the pool-side cocktail bar.

Come cocktail hour, the bar fills with locals out for a spoiling evening; groups of friends splashing out for a birthday treat; hotel guests (from families to couples) enjoying the partyish atmosphere before settling down for prawns, burgers, steaks and the like (there’s plenty of veggie options too).

Rooms are bright and white in homage to the salty seaside breeze; large beds are accented with green velvet throws for a dash of colour. Brassware runs throughout. Bag a sea-facing room – and even better one with a balcony; lower ground floor rooms have their own Jacuzzis and private patios.

The broad, golden beaches of Bournemouth are a short walk down the cliff – to the right is its famous pier (towards the town centre). Lucky Bournemouth: surely this is the start of this seaside stalwart’s renaissance?

BOOK IT: Doubles from £230. thenici.com

The Eastbury Hotel

The Eastbury – Sherborne

Originally a gentleman’s residence in the charming historic town of Sherborne, The Eastbury is a Grade II listed Georgian building, and now a multi award-winning five-star hotel. Guests keep returning for its understated charm, friendly staff, comfortable rooms, stand-out restaurant and great location as a base to explore the glorious Dorset countryside. The 26 bedrooms are split between traditional luxury and contemporary chic, full of colour and abstract paintings. Five Victorian Garden Potting Shed Suites are discreetly located within the lovely garden, as is its boutique luxury spa, which has a wild meadow roof and inviting circular wooden door. Expect local, seasonal dishes on the à la carte menu at Season’s (tuck in on the delightful, leafy terrace), and an impressive wine list curated from the de Savary’s private collection.

BOOK: Doubles from £220. +44 (0)1935 813131; theeastburyhotel.co.uk

Read our review of The Eastbury, a dog-friendly staycation

The PIG on the Beach Main

The Pig on the Beach – Studland

With its wacky profusion of turrets, gargoyles, stone casements and overlapping tiles on steep roofs, this enchanting 18th-century house will bring an instant smile to your face and memories of tales of Hansel and Gretel. As for the views? You’ll be entranced, especially looking across the sheep-flecked fields and the sea to Old Harry Rocks. Built as a grand summer house, this Studland Bay delight is a much-loved seaside sibling in the drove of Pig hotels, and it positively brims with charm. In addition to the usual conservatory restaurant (with signature 25-mile menu) and walled kitchen garden, there are quirkily different bedrooms, including a charming shepherd’s hut with log fire and separate bathroom. There’s a buzzy outdoor bar with a wood-fired oven for sourdough pizzas, a private dining room in a dreamy thatched hut (complete with its own ice cream cart), and essential beach bags, mats, buckets and spades in every room. A thrilling, wildly popular hotel. For fun in the sun, and smiles on faces, you need look no further.

BOOK: Doubles from £155. +44 (0)1929 450288; thepighotel.com

The Most Beautiful Beaches in the World

Moonfleet Manor

Moonfleet Manor – Weymouth

Is there a more idyllic setting for a family break than the intriguingly named Moonfleet Manor? If it sounds like something out of an adventure novel, that’s because it is: steeped in smuggling history, the house formed the backdrop for John Meade Falkner’s swashbuckling novel of the same name. Built for Maximilian Mohune and overlooking Fleet Lagoon on the Jurassic Coast, the big, friendly Georgian house has a spectacular location. Its elegant and welcoming interiors provide the perfect contrast to the spine-tingling landscape of Chesil Beach, an 18 mile-long stretch of pebbles (about 180 billion, they reckon) and setting for the eponymous film based on Ian McEwan’s novel. With its Ofsted-registered crèche, verandah, indoor play zone, outdoor sandpit and playground, tennis courts, spa treatment rooms and indoor pool, plus classic British dining served in the coastal facing restaurant and contemporary bedroom decor, Moonfleet truly has something for everyone. There’s plenty to explore nearby too, from walks along the South West Coast Path that runs along the bottom of the hotel’s garden to crabbing in Weymouth.

BOOK: Doubles from £120. +44 (0)1305 786948 / moonfleetmanorhotel.co.uk

Did you know that Weymouth has one of the UK’s least rainy beaches? Read more here

Summer Lodge

Summer Lodge – Evershot

Set in four acres of Hardy country, this 18th-century manor was enlarged for the Earl of Ilchester in 1893 by a local architect – Thomas Hardy himself. Today, the house is filled with beautiful fabrics, patterns and objects and the comfortable bedrooms lack for nothing; there are even fleece-covered hot-water bottles to warm your bed. The best is the garden suite in Bea’s Cottage, which has a sitting room, cocktail bar and private walled garden. For connoisseurs of drink, it’s hard to beat: sommelier Eric Zwiebel’s cellar, noted for its energetic eclecticism, is stocked with well over 300 whiskies, armagnacs and cognacs, plus 1,500 wine bins, while Steven Titman’s cooking squares up perfectly with his delightful tasting menus. There are many reasons to choose Summer Lodge – not least the boutique spa and indoor pool – but if you are planning a celebration, from four people to 70, then look no further: they orchestrate such occasions beautifully.

BOOK: Doubles from £215. +44 (0)1935 482000 / summerlodgehotel.co.uk

Deans Court Review

Deans Court – Wimbourne

Some things never change, and they are all the better for it. The Hanham family have lovingly cared for Deans Court since the Reformation, maintaining the surrounding land and the elegant redbrick Georgian house, as well as the Serpentine-walled kitchen garden – the first of its kind to be accredited by the Soil Association. Guests are invited to experience a slice of the sustainable lifestyle promoted on the estate from the comfort of two farmers’ cottages located within their own walled garden and adjoining orchard – or, just outside the main entrance, there is the seven-bedroom gate house. Altogether, the accommodation can sleep up to 26 people – handy if you’re planning a large get-together. Those that have the fishing bug will be pleased to hear that, just a short walk from your temporary abode, Deans Court has a beat on the River Allen, home to wild brown trout. Tight lines! Best of all, produce from the garden – think eggs, honey, fruit and vegetables – can be pre-ordered for your arrival. 

BOOK:  01202 849314 / deanscourt.org

10 Castle Street Main

10 Castle Street – Cranborne

Half members club, half hotel, 10 Castle Street is a glorious early 18th-century mansion set in stately gardens, whose scale and beauty is a thrill, and who is in easy reach of Dorset gems: the historic Salisbury and Stonehenge, the Jurassic Coast and the New Forest. The gorgeous ground-floor restaurant, bar, drawing room and outdoor terrace, and the nine gracious bedrooms are open to all, while the first floor is reserved for members, including Londoners seeking a cool but homely weekend retreat. The atmosphere is laid back and fun, food is sourced as locally as possible – a delight. 

BOOK: Doubles from £195. 10castlestreet.com

Plumber Manor Main

Plumber Manor – Sturminster Newton

One of this country’s most endearing and loved country-house hotels, with beautiful riverside gardens, Plumber Manor is located in Sturminster Newton, where famous poet Thomas Hardy used to live – and you too will feel far from the madding crowd. In the same family – one of the oldest in Dorset – since the 17th century, Plumber Manor is the archetypal Dorset country hotel. This is one for anyone who loves places that are timeless – where, perhaps, time even stands still. Bring the dog along for a friendly, family staycation.

BOOK: Doubles from £160. +44 (0)1258 472507 / plumbermanor.co.uk

Featured Image: A path to the sea Near Chapman’s Pool, Dorset