Pubs with Rooms: Dorset

Pubs with Rooms: Dorset

Of course the best pubs with rooms in Dorset are among the finest in the land. I moved to Dorset almost two decades ago, residing at the eastern end of the county on the edge of the New Forest. It means I’m far enough from the western side to appreciate a night or two – or even a long weekend – at that side of the county. Both ends are abundant in outstanding natural beauty. As well as those lovely, luxury pubs with rooms in Dorset.

From where I live in Christchurch, a stone’s throw from the Hampshire border, to Lyme Regis and beyond in the west, there are plenty of pubs with accommodation in Dorset near the sea. Some inns are close to the Jurassic coast. Alternatively, turn to the inland part of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, where you’ll find the likes of Shaftesbury, Wimborne and Cerne Abbas.

What is there to do and see in Dorset? There’s the large town of Bournemouth in the east, famous as a resort town since Victorian days. Poole lies immediately to the west, with playground of the mega-rich Sandbanks and a harbour that claims to be Europe’s largest and the second-biggest on the planet (after Sydney). To the west of Bournemouth lies Hengistbury Head, home to some of the most expensive overnight beach huts anywhere on earth, and Christchurch, which is packed with history and charm – plus quieter beaches.

The quieter sides of Dorset can be found in west, mid and north Dorset, where you can find the famous Cerne Abbas giant, see Gold Hill in Shaftesbury and explore the delightful town of Wimborne Minster. In South Dorset, there are various gems dotted along the coast, so here you can check out Lyme Regis, Swanage, Weymouth and Lulworth Cove – to name but a few. Pubs with rooms in South Dorset are ideal for discovering the area’s stunning coastline.

This guide showcases the best pubs with accommodation in Dorset – places where you’ll want to feast on finely prepared local produce before staying and playing for a while. Pubs like this area ideal for those seeking pet friendly accommodation, as they’re generally far more accepting of furry friends than hotels.

A one night stay is better than nothing; two is short but sweet and three is spot-on. If you fancy a week or more and want to explore the whole county, I’d suggest either basing yourself fairly centrally, or splitting your stay between two or even three destinations. It makes for an exciting little road trip while cutting down on the amount of driving done overall.

Pubs with Rooms in Dorset Comparison Table

NameLocationStyleRoom rate
The Acorn Inn Evershot Village pub£££
The Anchor InnSeatown, BridportCoastal pub£££££
The King’s ArmsChristchurchTown hotel££££
The FontmellShaftesburyCountry pub££
gastro pubs in Dorset
Evershot in Dorset is known as Evershed in Thomas Hardy’s Wessex

Four of the Best Pubs with Rooms, Dorset

The Acorn Inn, Evershot

If your search for gastro pubs with rooms in Dorset has anything to do with Thomas Hardy, then a stay at the Acorn Inn is a must – it’s said to have featured in Tess of the D’Urbervilles as ‘The Sow and the Acorn’. The 16th century coaching inn is packed with wooden beams, flagstone floors, oak panelling and crackling fireplaces.

The Acorn Inn Food and Drink

Food is very much a local affair here – traditional British pub fare with modern and inventive twists. Bread comes fresh from a local Evershot bakery, while breakfast features Dorset Cereals and quite possibly the most photogenic Eggs Benedict you’ll ever eat.

The Acorn Inn Starters

How to begin? What about a twice-baked crab soufflé, root vegetable and chilli soup or an open confit rabbit lasagne? Salad and seafood options are also available, creating a nice balance between meat, fish and veggie dishes.

The Acorn Inn Mains

The mains menu at the Acorn does British classics well – think rump of lamb, Dorset sirloin steak, home baked ham West Bay skate, fish and chips or homemade burgers. More exotic choices , meanwhile, typically include a Thai curry or a Italian style arancini.

The Acorn Inn Desserts

The sweet options at the Acorn Inn showcase the best of the kitchen team. Yes, there’s sticky toffee pudding, but here is is served with candied orange. Other puds may include fruit or chocolate mousses as well as ice creams and sorbets. Cheese fans will be delighted with the choice – diners can sample two, three, four or five cheeses, many of which come from Dorset or the surrounding counties.

The Acorn Inn Drinks

Six wines from the Hemel-en-Aarde valley in South Africa are showcased on the Acorn’s list. There are plenty of other options too, including floral New Zealand or fresh Chilean Sauvignons, French Chablis or Sancerre, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Italy, a light Romanian Pinot Noir and a bold and sophisticated Australian Shiraz.

The Acorn Inn Rooms

Classic in style with a dash of contemporary flair, all ten rooms at The Acorn Inn, Evershot are named for the much-loved author. Including one four-poster room and the Evershot suite, accommodation is cosy, comfortable and packed with historic charm and character.

Check availability at The Acorn Inn, Dorset here

best pubs with rooms Dorset
Golden sands lapped by clear water at Seatown beach near Bridport, Dorset

The Anchor Inn, Seatown, Bridport

We pass through Bridport pretty often, as some of my in laws live in Devon. This is a top pick among pubs with rooms on the Dorset coast. It looks the part, with white stone walls outside and low ceilings within. The influence of local produce is very much in evidence on the menu, and if you hanker after a bolthole by the sea this is the one – it overlooks Seatown’s crescent-shaped, golden sandy beach. Sandwiched between Lyme Regis and Bridport, this is a great place for walkers to stay, too.

The Anchor Inn Food and Drink

You might need to book before you get to sample any of The Anchor Inn‘s food, as there are some big foodie names behind the bar and kitchen with connections to Hix and past Masterchef champion Mat Follas. Luckily there is a spacious, sea-facing beer garden.

The Anchor Inn Starters

The local focus is very much in evidence right from the off. Lyme Bay mackerel, Dorset’s own Blue Vinny cheese and mussels from Exmouth in neighbouring Devon are typical highlights. Meaty bites might include pigs cheek croquettes, while artichoke and garlic soup might satisfy vegetarians.

The Anchor Inn Mains

You want classic pub food – you have it in the likes of steak and ale pie, burgers, haddock and chips or Dorset lamb. More adventurous choices may include saffron fish stew, hake with samphire, a fish of the day sharer, risotto, tagine or the delectable chicken kiev with a potato terrine.

The Anchor Inn Desserts

A cheeseboard, local ice cream, sticky toffee pud, a chocolate tart, a crumble… what you select might well depend on your earlier courses. There are sorbets too – ideal for anyone who’s really struggling.

The Anchor Inn Drinks

Local spirits are among the stars of the bar show, such as Conker Gin and Black Cow vodka. Beers and ales, meanwhile, come from Palmer’s Brewery, just a few miles down the road in Bridport. English fizz is also championed here.

The Anchor Inn Rooms

Think simple, coastal style here – crisp white linen, tongue and groove wall panelling and splashes or cool blue or warmer, summery shades. There are just three rooms, so get in quick if you want to grab one – especially in summer. All three combine the modern and the traditional for a subtle, soothing effect.

Search the latest offers at The Anchor Inn, Bridport here

pubs with rooms South Dorset
The Black House, Mudeford Sandbank (aka Hengistbury Head), Dorset

The King’s Arms, Christchurch

If it’s all about location, location, location then this is definitely one of the best pubs in Dorset for you. It’s right in the centre of Christchurch – very handy for when the annual food festival is on. A stay here means you can also sample some of my local favourites, such as The Captain’s Club. The former is a short stroll away, while the latter overlooks the pricey beach huts of Hengistbury Head. This area is home to some of the best beaches within easy reach of London – and they’re sandy, too. It also borders the New Forest, which lies just to the east.

The King’s Arms Food and Drink

This award winning hotel in pretty, historic Christchurch is a smart town centre venue right by the river and all the shops, bars and cafes you could wish for. It has a great reputation for food, and is operated by Harbour Hotels – the Christchurch outpost of which is under a mile away. It’s a stylish place for pre-dinner cocktails, a casual beer or a glass of wine, while the highly-rated restaurant showcases fresh produce from Dorset and the New Forest. The afternoon tea served here is also very good.

The King’s Arms Starters

Begin a sumptuous feast at The King’s Arms with Alex Aitken’s famous twice baked souffle (which you can see in my review of the nearby Upper Deck restaurant). Alternatively, choose between options like a Hendrick’s (gin) prawn cocktail, baked goat’s cheese, a sweet and sour dish with chicken, prawns and mango, duck ballotine or seared scallops with bacon and a pea puree.

The King’s Arms Mains

Mains include jackfruit or beef burgers, liver and bacon, halibut fillet, chicken breast with white wine sauce, fish and chips, beef braised in red wine or a selection of steaks. Typical accompaniments include smashed peas, roasted cauliflower, forest mushrooms or sage and onion gravy.

The King’s Arms Desserts

The cheeseboard selection at this pub with rooms in Dorset’s south-eastern corner does not disappoint. Isle of Wight Blue is featured as well as Dorset Blue Vinney, and you can also sample Tunworth – Britain’s answer to Camembert. If you’d pick sweet over savoury, then choose between treats like Knickerbocker Glory, chocolate brownie, peanut butter parfait, sticky toffee pudding, lemon meringue cheesecake and crème brulee with shortbread.

The King’s Arms Drinks

Challenge the mixologist to whip you up something sweet, bitter or simply colourful, or choose a wine from the extensive and carefully crafted list. Local and international beers and ciders are also available in bottles or on draft. The spirits selection, meanwhile, does of course include a range of craft gins.

The King’s Arms Rooms

Stay a while and you can choose between King, Queen and cosy loft rooms. All are decorated to a high standard and in a luxurious style. White Company toiletries, 400 thread count Egyptian cotton linens and flat screen TVs come as standard. King rooms look out towards Christchurch Priory or the courtyard via floor to ceiling windows. Be warned – visit Christchurch and you might never want to leave. I didn’t – and since settling here almost 20 years ago, now I never have to.

See current room rates for The King’s Arms here

pubs to stay in Dorset
Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset was made famous by a 1970s Hovis bread ad

The Fontmell, Fontmell Magna, Shaftesbury

If you want pubs with rooms near Shaftesbury, then this one has to be it. The Fontmell successfully combines cosy local pub, packed with fireplaces, window seats and secluded corners. And because of those features, people. It sits beside a babbling stream, has six elegant guest rooms and is highly rated by the Michelin Guide.

The Fontmell Food and Drink

The Fontmell’s menu features their own Old Spot pork as well as various dishes with Asian and Mediterranean influences sitting alongside good old British classics. There’s a thoughtfully put together wine list to accompany the excellent food, which in the main comes from Dorset, Wiltshire, Devon or Somerset.

The Fontmell Starters

Tick the British box with Dorset Blue Vinney and Broccoli soup or pan-fried pheasant. More exotic options at this top pick among restaurants with rooms in Dorset might include Szechuan ribs or curried falafel, while seafood fans can choose salmon or scallop starters. If you feel like something simple, then share a platter of homebaked breads, served with balsamic vinegar and butter.

The Fontmell Mains

There’s lots to delight carnivores, vegetarians and those who favour local fish on the mains menu at The Fontmell. Will it be mussels, Brixham cod and chips, beef fillet, ribs or guinea fowl? A Greek spinach pie or Indian style dahl? The list of accompaniments is just about as mouth-watering – tempura pea fritter, wild mushroom fricassee or saffron gnocchi, anyone?

The Fontmell Desserts

All the usual puds served in the best gastro pubs in Dorset are here – cheeseboard, ice cream, sticky toffee and sorbet – check. Seasonal sweet treats are also offered – such as affogato, panna cotta or a modern take on the traditional fruit crumble and custard.

The Fontmell Drinks

The wine list here has been crafted with extreme care. It showcases local suppliers, independent winemakers and organic grapes. Choices range from an Italian Gavi or Spanish Albarino to an Argentinian Malbec or French Burgundy.

The Fontmell Rooms

Each room at this country pub, just a few miles from Shaftesbury, has been individually styled. There are just six rooms, giving the place an intimate feel. Original features like exposed brickwork, wooden beams and low, sloping ceilings can be found in each. Satisfyingly comfortable beds and modern, rural chic are the name of the game, with fresh milk, coffee and Dorset tea in every space. Book room six if you fancy the romance of the freestanding, raised bathtub.

More info about The Fontmell, Shaftesbury, can be found here

A perfectly circular cove near Durdle Door in Dorset, on the south west coast path

Which of the best Dorset Gastropubs will you be wined and dined at?

Dorset makes a great place to visit, whether for a night, a weekend or a fortnight. Combining a trip to Dorset with visiting the nearby New Forest, which lies to the east, or Devon in the west is also a good idea, if you have the time. Choose a smart town hotel in Christchurch, or opt for a Dorset pub that featured in Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Stay right by the sea near Bridport, or in a pretty village close to Shaftesbury. Whichever of these pubs with rooms in Dorset you choose, you can expect outstanding food and comfortable stylish accommodation – all in one of England’s warmest and prettiest counties.

Polly x

You may also like my posts on pubs with rooms in Kent, the Lake District or Northumberland – the latter being my original home county.

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