Set in the magnificent Cranborne Chase countryside, there's fresh air aplenty, as well as charming market towns and historic country houses to discover nearby. After a day of rural pursuits - walking, hunting, cycling, fishing - we unwound over a candlelit supper of local venison and well-chosen wines; then stumbled lazily upstairs to one of the eight stylish, comfortable bedrooms and slept like royalty.
- In an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - guests can stroll straight from the village to rolling fields
- Deliciously fresh local produce on the menu: Wiltshire game, house oak-smoked salmon, Westcombe cheddar…
- Our bed was out-of-this-world comfy
- The sunny tiered garden provides the perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink
- Faultless service when we visited - nothing was too much trouble for the friendly team
- Situated on a roadside. Cars pass infrequently, but when they do, you can hear them
- In the coach house annexe, room 8 has a low ceiling and room 7 lacks privacy - but both are peaceful
- The restaurant can get busy at weekends, especially Sunday lunchtimes; vegetarian options are limited
- It won't suit those with a strong anti-hunting stance
- No shops in the village, but Shaftesbury town is a short drive away
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- 8 rooms
- Restaurant and bar (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Closed: Sun-Tue nights
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car recommended
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
At the King John, the traditional blends seamlessly with the modern - neutral walls are brought to life with historical maps and work by local artists, Bang & Olufsen phones sit on antique tables alongside flatscreen Sony TVs.
Despite being above the main bar, The Indulgent was a haven of calm during our stay - certainly monarch friendly. And how could it not be, after an indulgent Noble Isle-scented dip in the freestanding tub, a deep slumber in the enormous super-kingsize bed, and a leisurely morning roused by fresh coffee and the drenching rainfall shower? The outlook is limited, but the ivy-draped bay window adds yet more stately charm.
Also on this floor are a handful of The Feature rooms (numbers 2, 4 and 5). Original sash windows, crisp white bedding and homemade shortbreads ensure each one is as welcoming as the next.
Across the pebble drive, the converted coach house holds rooms 6 and 8. A study in contrasts, the former is an airy double-height room while the latter is a quirky attic space with semi-open bathroom (taller guests beware, the beams are rather low). Ground-floor room The Classic (number 7) is also in the coach house; less private than some other rooms, it’s handy for those wanting to avoid the stairs during their stay.
This is a relaxed sort of place. Our afternoon easily turned into a lazy evening, catching the last of the suns rays in the tiered garden while sampling the bar's award-winning ales. As the air turned chillier, we headed into the country-chic restaurant for a warming supper amid rustic wooden tables and plump cushions.
Onto the menu, a creative mix of country favourites (meltingly good slow-cooked beef pie with buttery suet crust) and more creative additions (trout sashimi with peppery wasabi), all tied together with locally sourced ingredients. The chef was on hand to guide us through the varied wine list, recommending a bone-dry Picpoul de Pinet which suited our tastes perfectly.
I decided to keep my dining footprint as small as possible with a tasty salmon starter (smoked in the King John’s alfresco kitchen), followed by rare Wiltshire venison sliced amongst a seasonal beets salad. The inspiring pudding menu tempted us into share a white chocolate and raspberry parfait - sweet yet light. Oh, and don’t skip the bread, home-baked and pillowy soft. Holidays are made for indulging after all!
Of course, Sunday lunches are a weekly highlight, and any lunch can be stretched out over an entire afternoon if you so wish. In the morning, we took breakfast at a sun-dappled table beside the stone fireplace: jams, toast, pots of tea, an excellent full English (complete with house-smoked bacon) and delicate eggs royale set us up for the busy day ahead.
- Coffee / tea making
- Coffee maker
- Cranborne Chase is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a hive for outdoor pursuits - hire bikes, go fishing, horse riding or turn your hand to shooting. The King John has a long hunting tradition and is popular with shooting parties… just ask for details of what’s on offer
- Pull on your walking boots and get out into the countryside. For an easy jaunt, follow the bridal path from the village up to the gentle peak of Win Green, where you find impressive views of the area - on a clear day you can even see the Isle of Wight!
- Spend an afternoon in the pretty market town of Shaftesbury perusing the stylish boutiques, tempting delis and cute cafes - don’t miss Gold Hill, made famous by Ridley Scott’s iconic Hovis advert
- Visit historic Salisbury to marvel at the awesome cathedral or try your luck at the city’s race course
- Practice your swing at Rushmore’s 18-hole golf course, set amind rolling hills and with wonderful views of the local area
- Stourhead and Kingston Lacy are both close - beautiful National Trust country mansions, with stunning gardens
- Drive half an hour to the coast at Sandbanks and dip your toes in the great British sea. Slightly further is gorgeous Lulworth Cove, and don't miss the impressive rock formation of Durdle Door
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
Although the King John isn't specifically geared towards families, all ages are welcome and families will feel at home in the friendly pub-restaurant. There's a tiered garden (best for older kids) and the rambling countryside allows plenty of space for letting off steam.
Children (4-12 years)
Family friendly accommodation:
All rooms can accommodate a baby cot, free of charge. Extra beds can fit in The Indulgent and some rooms in The Feature category (5, 6 and 8).
Extra Beds Available
Families Should Know:
The roadside setting and tiered garden mean parents of toddlers will need to take extra care.
King John Inn is in the village of Tollard Royal, in central Wiltshire. It's 12km from Shaftesbury and 29km from Salisbury.
Bournemouth (34km) is the closest airport. You could take a taxi from here, but it’s best to have a car so that you can explore the area - see our car rental recommendations. There's free off-road parking at the hotel.
Guests travelling by train usually go to Tisbury (20 minutes' drive away), which has direct links to London Waterloo.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to the UK and getting around
- Bournemouth International 34.0 km BOH
- London Heathrow 161.0 km LHR
- Beach 24.0 km
- Shops 11.0 km
- Restaurant 3.0 km