10 Castle Street

Cranborne, Dorset, United Kingdom Book from £145

Chic country-house hotel with beautiful grounds and an excellent restaurant, hidden in the folds of Dorset's bucolic Cranborne Chase
This is how all English garden parties should be. We’re sipping G&Ts on a bluebell-lined terrace, the sun is glowing down on us and the dulcet tones of Izi Onslow are floating across the lawn. Children are playing hide-and-seek between the topiary and friends are merrily chatting over their deliciously lazy lunches (crab bisque and rabbit risotto, no less). Forget home-spun barbecues and tiny paddling pools: this the only way to really enjoy an English country garden.

Of course, no good party is complete without charismatic hosts. Enter Alex and Gretchen Boon, who fulfil the role with aplomb. In the bar and restaurant, Alex’s wine merchant expertise has been put to good use curating international wines and spirits; Gretchen’s impeccable eye for interiors has ensured the property’s successful transformation from private country house to fabulous 9-bedroom hotel and members club. Today, lush palms and monochrome safari portraits add a cool colonial twist to classic wallpapers, antique bureaus and hand-selected art.

And when the party’s over? Well, what could be easier than climbing the staircase to your elegant bedroom, where the products are Elemis and the pillows are always plumped? We slept soundly and left utterly refreshed.

Highs

  • Brand new in December 2015, this is an ideal country retreat: inviting rooms, bespoke design, timeless grounds and plenty of quiet corners to make your own
  • The restaurant and bar are popular with hotel guests and locals alike, so there's always a welcoming buzz about the place
  • The indulgent Super Rooms are perfect for a special occasion and there are plenty of family-friendly options, too
  • Cranborne is a beautiful village and the surrounding countryside is rich with rural walking trails, outdoor pursuits and National Trust properties
  • Alex and Gretchen are warm hosts with a wealth of local knowledge

Lows

  • The restaurant is pricey and service can be disorganised, but it's early days and we’ve been assured that the team are refining this
  • The Snug Room is fairly compact, and the Spare Room's bathroom is down the hall (best for those planning to be out and about a lot)
  • On busy summer evenings, noise can travel up to the first-floor rooms
  • Surprising in-room extras: tea and coffee but no milk or minibar (though it's just a quick call to reception to have extras brought up)
  • A spa would be the cherry on the cake... watch this space

Best time to go

We stayed on a very warm and sunny spring day, which really brought the hotel to life. Everyone was in the garden all afternoon and we couldn't have felt more relaxed. On the other hand, we can imagine that the dramatic lounges, with their crackling fires and squishy sofas, would be wonderfully cosy on colder days. The established garden puts on a beautiful show from spring right through to autumn; come winter, Christmas here would be magical.

Our top tips

Alex is a wine merchant, and the hotel’s collection is outstanding. Not only that, their gins are excellent, too. They are the UK’s only importer of the South African tipple Inverroche, and you can try a glass of this as a thank you for booking through i-escape. Smooth and fragrant with botanicals, we found it delicious over ice; the perfect cooling accompaniment to a sunny afternoon.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 9
  • Restaurant (open Tues-Sun) and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Pool Table
  • Artwork for sale
Room: Super Room

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

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.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Relax and have fun! There are beautiful grounds, 2 bars, a billiards room and various lounges to unwind in. Play croquet on the lawn and seek sculptures in the garden (we particularly loved the bronze camel)
  • Cranborne Chase is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and there are plenty of country walks nearby. Highlights include Badbury Rings (the remains of an Iron Age hill fort) and Win Green, for far-reaching views
  • Discover the Roman temple at Larmer Tree Gardens or learn about the fascinating Bankes family at Kingston Lacy country house (National Trust)
  • Practice your swing at nearby Remedy Oak and Rushmore, both excellent 18-hole golf courses
  • The team can arrange cycling, horse riding and game shooting days
  • Drive to Sandbanks Beach and dip your toes in the sea (30 minutes). Slightly further along the coast is picturesque Lulworth Cove and the impressive Durdle Door rock formation
  • Inspired by 10 Castle Street’s elegant grounds? Cultivate your own greenery with a visit to the Cranborne Chase garden centre
  • Shop for art by local talents such as Ursula Leech and Hazel Morgan - the pieces adorning the hotel walls are all for sale
  • Being a members club, 10 Castle Street often holds special events for its guests such as wine tastings, film previews and afternoon barbecues with music

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Beaches
  • Croquet
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Pool table
  • Shooting
  • Wine tasting
  • Yoga

Kids

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.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

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.

Babysitting:

Available on request

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chairs

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kids Activities on site:

  • Kids room (TV / DVD player)
  • Gardens
  • Billiards room
  • Resident pigs
  • Family yoga (on occasion)

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Horse riding
  • Larmer Tree Gardens
  • Monkey World
  • Kingston Lacy
  • Beaches (Sandbanks, Lulworth Cove)

Families Should Know:

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.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

7/
Rooms
8/
Food
8/
Service
7/
Value
7/
Overall

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