The Ollerod

Beaminster, Dorset, United Kingdom Book from Book from £99 per night

A cosy, cottagey country hotel in rustic Beaminster, 6 miles inland from the Jurassic Coast
This is classic Thomas Hardy country (Beaminster was Emminster in Tess of the d’Urbervilles); a mini market town, with a perfect little square, tucked into a fold of the Brit Valley. The Ollerod (meaning cowslip in old Dorset dialect) has the look of an old coaching inn, a hint of rural manor, but the long, low building - weathered Dorset hamstone, mullioned windows draped in foliage - was founded as a medieval priests’ house.

Back in 2004 it was given a new lease of life by a creative London couple, then in 2018 the head chef Chris and his partner Silvana took the reins. The cosy, characterful country-retreat ambiance remains; think ingle-nooks, flagstones, oak beams and Georgian panelling teamed up with pretty wallpapers and Italian cotton linens. The 13 rooms ooze low-key escapism, and the food is truly heavenly. In winter, snuggle up by a warm fire; in summer, linger over supper in the garden. Or just get out the walking boots and enjoy this beautiful, unspoiled corner of rural Wessex.

Highs

  • Bags of atmosphere - historic and traditional, without being stuffy
  • The food is fresh, local and seasonal, with Asian flavours subtly added to some dishes
  • Relaxing in the hotel’s comfortable lounge - a real home from home, with an inviting array of sofas and easy chairs, local art and real log fires
  • A great setting with lots of country walks and great beaches nearby
  • Well set up for families, with suites that sleep 4, children's meals available, lots of equipment and toys, and plenty of family-friendly activities nearby

Lows

  • Some rooms were looking a little dated when we visited, but Chris and Silvana are in the process of giving them a refresh. Rooms in the main house are the most up to date
  • The hotel is right on the A-road into Beaminster, though it quietens down at night
  • Due to the layout of the main house, some rooms may get a bit of kitchen noise
  • Front rooms lack views, but they are among the best in the house
  • Parking can be an issue. There's space for a few cars on site, but occasionally you may have to park (free of charge) down the road

Best time to go

Dorset is a year-round destination, lovely in the summer but less crowded in the spring and autumn - when it is perfect for walkers. Autumn is high season for fossil hunting at nearby Lyme Bay, and early spring is best for bluebell woods.

Our top tips

Don't write off a winter stay; we visited early in the year and loved the low lighting, homely open fires and the smell of woodsmoke. It’s great for summer guests, too, and the restaurant is popular with locals.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Wedding
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 13
  • Restaurant 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
Room:

Rooms

Rooms are divided between the main house and the more modern coach house annexe. If you want sloping floors, character and kingsize beds, go for a Superior room (in the main house) - ours was enormous, with lovely garden views. If you want romance, go for a Four Poster: the best in the house, we think. Room 1 has a lavish French-polished bed and fresh floral wallpaper, while Room 3 has low lighting and rich dark colours.

The less expensive Deluxe rooms are to the rear of the house, with pretty wallpapers and views of the garden or car park. Behind is the cottagey coach house, a former stable block converted in 1995, where there's a clutch of Standard rooms. The line-up includes 2 Family Suites, one in the main house and one in the coach house.

Some bathrooms are a little dated, with bath/shower combos, but Chris and Silvana are updating them one by one. One room had a small but contemporary Philippe Starck shower, another had a spa tub that can be lit from underneath. All have Nespresso machines, smart TVs and other 21st-century staples.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • DVD player (on request)
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Nespresso coffee machine
  • Phone
  • Satellite TV
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Chris is a former Michelin-starred chef, so you know you're in for treat at The Ollerod. There's an a la carte menu or a Small Plates menu, each of which features seasonal local produce, homegrown veggies and some surprising Asian flavours. The menus change every few weeks, but you might find flame-grilled mackerel satay with pickled Thai shallots, roast suckling pig with black pudding purée and potato fondant, or polenta and shiitake mushroom fritters. Wash it all down with an English wine from the Furleigh Estate just down the road.

Seat yourself in the elegant dining room (Georgian panelling, crisp linens, candlelight and an Adam fireplace), or the more contemporary brasserie area (a light indoor-outdoor space that spills out of a garden room into a tent-like pavilion, and onto a patio terrace). Traditional afternoon teas complete the picture.

Breakfast includes a continental buffet alongside hot dishes like Eggs Benedict, smoked salmon, a full English and, the Chef’s special, the all-day snail breakfast - egg and bacon topped with locally-sourced snails. Make sure you save room for some freshly baked pastries - when we visited these appeared after the cooked breakfasts were served, which we found a little odd. Mueslis, breads and preserves are all homemade.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Lace up the walking boots - some trails lead straight from the front door! Try the 11-mile Brit Valley Way, which travels south to West Bay harbour (of Broadchurch fame) and north into the Beaminster Down chalk hills. The hotel can provide maps and packed lunches
  • Explore the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage site; the fossil-rich cliffs and long pebble beaches of Lyme Bay (Charmouth, Lyme Regis, Seatown) are within a 20-minute drive
  • The historic seaside town of Lyme Regis is worth a day trip - hang out on the beach, stroll along the famous Cobb (a medieval harbour wall), and treat yourself to a cream tea
  • Bridport, an old rope-making town (6 miles south), has a great mix of shops, cafes, bars and galleries, a weekly bric-a-brac market, plus Bridport Art Centre and the Electric Palace (a fomer cinema turned arts venue)
  • Hit the beach - there are shingle beaches at West Bay and Eype, and a nice stretch of sand at Hive Beach at Burton Bradstock (9 miles southeast). The latter is home to the famous Hive Café
  • Gardens and visitor centres: the Mapperton House valley gardens (a mile away), historic Ford Abbey (6 miles), the Abbotsbury sub-tropical gardens and swannery (10 miles), and River Cottage HQ (it’s eatery is in nearby Axminster)
  • The hotel can organise fishing trips, shooting parties, fossil hunting, classic car runs, llama trekking, rounds of golf, and short courses in green oak carving, painting or pottery

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

Children are very welcome here, and don't worry about packing everything - the hotel can provide nearly everything you'd need, from potties to special children's menus. It's also pushchair friendly.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Standard Family Suite and Superior Family Suite each have a double bedroom and adjoining twin room, the latter being a bit larger. All rooms can hold a rollaway bed or baby cot (extra charge)

Babysitting:

Babysitting available - extra charge

Baby equipment:

  • Four baby cots available
  • High chair
  • Baby bedding
  • Potty
  • Baby bath

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

Children's meals:

Your children certainly won't go hungry! The children’s menu is great for little ones and works on a ‘pick and mix’ basis, combining a main fish, meat or vegetarian item with a wide choice of vegetable and salad sides. There's a microwave for heating baby food, bottle warming available, plus a shop selling baby food and child-friendly cafés nearby.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Childrens DVDs
  • Small selection of toys for 0-3 years
  • Cards, chess and games for older children

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast
  • Head to the beach
  • Weymouth's Sea Life Centre
  • Fleet Air Museum in Yeovilton
  • Bugspot at the Kingcombe wildlife centre
  • Fishing and boat trips
  • Haynes Motor Museum in Sparkford (with go-karts)
  • Abbotsbury swannery and children's farm
  • Take a picnic and go for a walk

Families Should Know:

There's a chemist, supermarket, toy shop and place to buy beach toys nearby. Both family suites are on the first floor and there are stairs to them (but they aren't particularly steep).

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Hospital: 10 minutes
  • Shops: 2 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

The Ollerod is set in Beaminster, close to Crewkerne in southwest England.

By Air
Exeter and Bristol Airports are both close, and it's probably worth hiring a car so you can explore the area. Taxis are also available but they're expensive.

By Train
The nearest railway station is at Crewkerne (11km), which is on the Exeter to Waterloo line.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

More on getting to the UK and getting around

Airports:

  • Exeter 50.0 km EXT
  • Bristol 70.0 km BRS

Other:

  • Beach 8.0 km
  • Shops 0.5 km
  • Restaurant 0.5 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

8/10
Room
9/10
Food
8/10
Service
8/10
Value
8/10
Overall

We enjoyed our stay and our room was nice. The dinner was good and breakfast even better. It is not as luxurious as other places I have stayed through i-escape but was a good value with excellent service.

8/10,

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