“Chic country-house hotel with beautiful grounds and an excellent restaurant, hidden in the folds of Dorset's bucolic Cranborne Chase”
A classic style infuses the house, and each room features bespoke drapes, sumptuous beds with snow-white sheets, and cushioned headboards in dusky florals or stripes.
We stayed in Super Room 8, a beautiful first-floor retreat overlooking the manicured gardens (most rooms do). Winning on wow factor, it had original blush candy-striped wallpaper and palatial proportions (huge fireplace, sash windows, super-kingsize bed and a chaise longue). Neighbouring Lovely Room 9 comes in calming blues and the two spaces can interconnect for families.
Due to this being a historic house, the ceilings are much lower on the second floor, where the rest of the rooms sit. That said, Super Room 1 has an enormous footprint and features our favourite bathroom, with a walk-in shower and a freestanding tub for gazing across the grounds while you soak.
Of the 4 Lovely Rooms on this floor, some can interconnect, one can convert into a twin, and all are comfortable, stylish and give beautiful views over the gardens.
Snug Room 6 is compact and overlooks the front drive, but its freestanding slipper tub adds charm and value. There is also Spare Room 7, whose bathroom is just along the corridor. It’s not for everyone, but if the hotel is full or you’re on a budget, it’s worth considering.
Dining at 10 Castle Street is as much about the atmosphere as the outstanding food. On the buzzy garden terrace, we feasted on a delicious Sunday lunch encompassing conceptual cuisine and traditional hearty fare. First, the best crab bisque I’ve ever tasted. Presented as a cappuccino complete with cup, saucer and parmesan foam, it was rich, creamy and gone in moments. Then came the hearty fare: roast beef drenched in gravy with a rainbow of roasted local veg, crispy potatoes and a suitably oversized Yorkshire pud. The finale, a fresh fruit sherry trifle, was lifted by indulgent chocolate and pistachio shavings.
For the rest of the week, the menu is more varied. The best local ingredients are used to create tempting dishes rich with international influences: venison and red wine ragout, seafood caldo de congrio and hake fillet with linguine vongole. Groups can even watch the chefs at work from the Tasting Room, a glass-roofed space off the main restaurant.
Breakfast in the stylish dining room was a winner, too: brioche French toast with bacon and maple syrup. It was a departure from the trad British vibe our food had followed until that point, and the slivers of crispy bacon with the crunchy yet gooey sweet bread couldn’t have provided a better start to my day. I’d return for that dish alone.
All ages are welcome and the hotel has a wonderfully inclusive atmosphere. Families, couples and groups of friends mingle happily; there’s plenty of space, after all.
Alex and Gretchen's 2 daughters can often be found playing on the lawn and there’s a sweet kids' lounge on the first-floor, decorated with hot air balloons.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Lovely Rooms 4 and 5 can interconnect via a private exterior hallway; being on the second floor, they are also very quiet. First-floor Super Room 8 and Lovely Room 9 can also interconnect and are very spacious, but may experience noise from the dining terrace. All Super and Lovely Rooms can hold an extra bed or baby cot, on request.
Available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
During the evening the restaurant is only suitable for ages 10+ (but children can dine early). The house also features a lot of expensive antiques and artworks, so you would have to keep one eye on little ones.