The Dorset Craft House

Semley, Wiltshire, United Kingdom Book from Book from £285 per night

Luxurious self-catering cottage in a peaceful rural location, showcasing impeccable design and craftsmanship (sleeps 6-8)
William Morris famously said: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” In an age of excess, these sentiments seem more pertinent than ever. So it was with delight that we learned of this beautiful 19th-century cottage hidden deep in the Wiltshire countryside, in the sleepy village of Semley. Designed as a living homage to British craftsmanship, every detail has been carefully chosen. DeVol units are stocked with David Mellor kitchenware, Nicola Tassie ceramics sit on shelves carved from a Semley oak tree, and bespoke upholstered beds accent Morris' own wallpaper designs.

The main 3-bedroom cottage is comfortable and spacious, with a huge open-plan living space and garden. Windows gaze out onto this bucolic corner of England, where the closest thing to a noisy neighbour is the joyful dawn chorus. There's also a lovely 1-bedroom annexe with its own living-kitchen area, if you need extra space (for the teens or in-laws perhaps). Don your wellies and explore from the front door, seeking out the enchanting Pythouse Kitchen Garden and historic Old Wardour Castle. A perfect base for a group of friends or an extended family, who appreciate good design and a restorative change of pace.

Highs

  • The interior design was a true passion project; you’ll leave inspired and utterly enamoured with the Arts & Crafts movement
  • The cottage has a huge open-plan kitchen-dining-lounge perfect for sociable suppers, plus a big garden and BBQ for summer evenings
  • Plenty of space for up to 8 guests, with extra independence for one couple if needed (using the annexe)
  • We loved the peaceful setting on the edge of a sleepy Wiltshire village, with country walks from the door and Pythouse Tennis Club membership included in the rates
  • Lots of thoughtful details: Bramley bath products, a bountiful welcome hamper, an honesty fridge with homemade chicken pies

Lows

  • If coming with kids, we think it's best suited to teens and babies (precious furnishings and limited kids' equipment)
  • If you want to dine out, there are limited options within walking distance (but lots a short drive or taxi ride away)
  • A hefty security deposit is required - bear in mind that replacing a broken bowl will cost more than the usual IKEA restock
  • Be aware that the annexe is slightly overlooked by the owner's house, and its mezzanine bedroom has low ceilings

Best time to go

The Dorset Craft House is a great year-round retreat. Winters are cosy and atmospheric - think bracing walks, candlelit suppers, roaring log-burners and toasty underfloor heating. In summer, there's plenty of outdoor space to enjoy, plus you can make the most of your guest membership at the local tennis club.

Our top tips

Like a particular item? The Dorset Craft House serves as a gallery and much of the décor is for sale. Better yet, the owner’s close working relationship with the artists and makers means there may be exclusive discounts to be had.

If you want to learn more about the Arts & Crafts movement while you’re here, look out for relevant books dotted around the house. Fiona McCarthy’s biography of William Morris is a great starting point.

Great for...

Family
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Cottage
  • 3-4 bedroom cottage
  • Self-catering
  • 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
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

Rooms

The Dorset Craft House combines a 19th-century 3-bedroom cottage with a loft-style 1-bedroom annexe next door (available as an add-on).

The cottage is a riot of colour and influences, with real wow-factor. Downstairs is a sociable open-plan living space for hearty suppers and board games in front of the fire. Across the hall, the snug has a Sony internet-TV for lazier moments. We slept blissfully in the double-height master bedroom (complete with ensuite shower). This and the second double bedroom boast original oak beams, designer wallpaper and a classic but still vibrant palette. At the back of the house, the twin bedroom’s elegant blush walls are accented by mustard handmade beds, mint Anglepoise lamps and framed Lucienne Day fabrics. Siberian goose-down bedding and 400-thread-count sheets are present throughout. In the main bathroom, you'll find a wood-panelled bathtub, drenching walk-in shower and botanical Bramley products.

Next door, the timber-clad annexe has a more understated colour scheme. Striking crittall doors open into an airy open-plan lounge and Sebastian Cox kitchen. A wood-burner and underfloor heating keep things cosy. Upstairs, there’s a compact mezzanine sleeping area with sloping ceilings; its clothes storage area and metro-tiled shower room are downstairs. Outside, the seating area and gravel garden are overlooked by the owner’s home, but we felt perfectly happy reading and sipping our afternoon coffees there.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • CD player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Dishwasher
  • DVD player
  • Fireplace
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob or stove
  • Ipod dock
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Radio
  • Satellite TV
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • Tumble dryer
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi

Eating

The cottage's light-filled kitchen-diner comes with David Mellor cutlery and glassware, plus every pot, pan and utensil you could need. A Dualit toaster and Ruark DAB radio nestle on the oak counter; the old chimney breast holds an enormous Rangemaster. Outside, a west-facing dining terrace and brick BBQ catch the last of the afternoon sun.

The owner provides a welcome hamper – the longer you stay the ampler it becomes. We were welcomed with a fresh seeded loaf, delicious homemade granola, Greek yoghurt, ruby-red strawberries, butter, milk, sweet lemon curd and jam. You’ll also find Kilner jars of tea and Dorset coffee waiting for you, plus olive oil and the like. It’s a similar story in the annexe , whose compact kitchen includes an oven, hob, toaster, kettle and fridge.

You can request a fresh fish delivery from Tisbury Fishmongers. For good measure, add a wine delivery from The Beckford Bottle Shop. If you're celebrating a special occasion, the owner can also recommend a local caterer (prior arrangement is essential). The cottage also has an honesty fridge filled with homemade chicken pies.

For additional supplies, Semley has a simple village shop, while nearby Shaftesbury and Tisbury have independent delis and supermarkets. The area has plenty of tempting gastropubs and restaurants, too – we love Pythouse Kitchen Garden (a mile along the lane), The Beckford Arms, The Forresters and The Riverbarn. Some are walkable during the day, but you'll want to drive or get a taxi at night.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Chef on request
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Dishwasher
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob or stove
  • Meal delivery service
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Shopping service
  • Toaster
  • Welcome hamper
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Take a country walk straight from your front door to Old Wardour Castle or Fonthill Lake – choose a route from the books provided, and borrow wellies from the utility room
  • Play tennis at Pythouse Tennis Club, a mile up the lane – you get free membership as part of your stay
  • Spend a morning perusing Tisbury's handful of independent shops before visiting Messums art gallery, a multi-purpose arts centre housed in a Grade-I listed thatched tithe barn (the largest in England)
  • Hill-top Shaftesbury is a medieval market town replete with boutiques, inns and history. Seek out iconic Gold Hill (from the Hovis advert) and Park Walk for expansive views over the Blackmore Vale
  • Visit one of the area’s many National Trust properties: Stourhead Gardens is a favourite and particularly picturesque during spring and autumn
  • Back at the cottage, watch a movie in the snug, soak up the sun in the large lawned garden, or unwind with a massage or beauty treatment (recommended local therapists use heavenly Neal's Yard products)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Tennis
  • Tennis coaching
  • Well being

Kids

The Dorset Craft House is family-friendly, but probably best suited to teens and babes in arms as there are many hand-crafted items and bespoke soft furnishings.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

The cottage has 3 bedrooms, one of which is a twin. The annexe might work well for older, independently minded teens. A baby cots can be added to either property

Babysitting:

Available on request

Baby equipment:

A baby cot, high chair and stair gate are available to borrow

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

Kids Activities on site:

The house has DVDs, a PS4 and a TV, plus a large lawn for letting off steam

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Pythouse Tennis Club membership (10-min walk)
  • Old Wardour Castle (10-min drive)
  • Tisbury open-air swimming pool and playgrounds (7-min drive)
  • Bush Farm Bison Centre (10-min drive)
  • Salisbury, for a cinema and wet-weather activities (30-min drive)
  • Longleat Safari (20-min drive)
  • Wilton House adventure playground (20-min drive)

Families Should Know:

Be aware that broken items could prove expensive to replace (there's a hefty security deposit due to the many original artworks and antiques)

Distances:

  • Airport: Southampton (70 minutes), Bristol (75 minutes)
  • Hospital: 7 minutes (Shaftesbury, small hospital), 25 minutes (Salisbury, major hospital with A&E)
  • Shops: 7 minutes (Shaftesbury)
Kid Friendly:

Location

The Dorset Craft House is in Semley village in Wiltshire, southwest England. It's halfway between Tisbury and Shaftesbury (Dorset).

By Car:
The cottage is just over an hour's drive from Bristol and 2 hours from London; see our car rental recommendations.

By Train:
The nearest station, Tisbury, is a 10-minute taxi-ride away. Trains from London Waterloo take 1 hour and 45 minutes. The owner can recommend local taxi firms - book in advance.

By Air
Bristol, Bournemouth and Southamption airports are all within a 1-2 hour drive. London hubs are a 2+ hour drive away.

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

More on getting to the UK and getting around

Airports:

  • Bristol 74.0 km BRS
  • London Gatwick 176.0 km LGW

Other:

  • Beach 90.0 km
  • Shops 3.0 km
  • Restaurant 3.5 km

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