In medieval Shaftesbury, a traditional town-centre coaching inn reinvented as a funky hotel, perfect for foodies and country lovers”
The Grosvenor Arms is the high street’s grande dame. Remodelled in the 18th century by the Duke of Westminster, it is Grade II listed with a showy Georgian frontage, 16 spacious bedrooms and a splendid ballroom - but don’t imagine a trip down history’s memory lane. The once-faded inn has undergone several makeovers and is now a vibrant hub of activity, with a reclaimed bar, a cobbled courtyard, herb-laden restaurant tables and comfy leather sofas. A fun take on the country getaway.
- Tasteful rooms with Italian cottons, rain showers and Dualit coffee machines - the Cranborne and Balcony Suites are real show-stoppers
- A welcoming lounge-style bar with something for everyone: local ales, tasty cocktails, buzzing local chatter and dog-friendly
- Shaftesbury is a charming market town in the heart of green-welly country, within easy access of Longleat, Cranborne Chase and Stonehenge
- A relaxed restaurant serving lunch and dinner, with an authentic pizza oven and menu overseen by Tom Blake (formerly of River Cottage)
- Great value and a warm welcome
- This is a centrally located hotel, so bar chatter and street noise can sometimes travel to rooms on the first floor and at the front of the hotel
- The in-room tea and coffee making is all provided via a Dualit machine; tea aficionados may miss their kettle and teapot
- No on-site car park, but there are public car parks within walking distance
- No lift access to the second-floor rooms; if this is important, request a first-floor Standard or Premium Room
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- 16 rooms
- Restaurant and bar (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
The 16 relaxing bedrooms are dressed in grey, green and stone shades, accented by soft wools, zig-zag fabrics, mosaic tiles and solid-wood dressers.
For a bit of wow-factor, check into the second-floor Cranborne Suite - a large bedroom-sitting room with a working gas fireplace, an airy bay window overlooking the courtyard, and one of the biggest bathrooms we’ve ever seen: freestanding tub, twin basins, wall-mounted TV and a show-stopping double shower.
We stayed in the romantic second-floor Balcony Suite, which has an indulgent in-room freestanding tub and separate shower room. It's large balcony makes it perfect for summer.
Standard Rooms (the smallest, but still a decent size) have showers only; Premium Rooms have a mix of bathroom types (tub-shower combos or walk-in showers). Street-facing rooms can be subject to a bit of noise, so if that bothers you, request one overlooking the courtyard - though bear in mind that in summer, diners will be out here until 11pm. Request a first-floor Standard or Premium Room if lift access is important to you.
Queen, kingsize or twin beds are dressed in Italian cotton; Bramley products wait in the bathrooms. You get a Dualit coffee and tea machine, an iPod dock and towelling robes.
- Central heating
- Extra beds
- Family friendly
- Ipod dock
- Satellite TV
An authentic pizza oven takes centre stage in the restaurant. The enticing, well thought-out menu works for both lunch and dinner. To start, we went for celeriac fritters with Ticklmore goats cheese, chilli, walnut mayo and beetroot dressing. Then it was on to an indulgent spinach, ricotta and mushroom aranchini, and the house's quatro pizza (which features four different pizza topping combos, one for each quater). Excellent ingredients were beautifully presented throughout. As we’d hoped, pudding was a real treat: a hearty bread and butter pudding with clotted cream ice cream and brandy butter sauce.
The welcoming ground-floor bar and lounge offers local ales and a cocktail menu; a light atrium-like entrance adds an airy sense of openness, and in summer guests spill out onto the cobbled courtyard.
Breakfast, taken in the restaurant, is a happy mix of continental staples - muesli, porridge, fruit, pastries - along with more tempting cooked options: the Full Grosvenor, smashed avocado on malted toast, roasted field mushrooms and poached eggs.
If you want to eat out, there are plenty of charming cafes and delis in Shaftesbury, plus some great country gastro pubs within driving distance. We recommend The Beckford Arms at Fonthill in south Wiltshire (16km) and The King John Inn at Tollard Royal (11km).
- Coffee maker
- Family friendly
- Restaurants nearby
- Vegetarian menu
- Take a stroll around Shaftesbury - a pretty market town, well-furnished with historic buildings, boutiques, antique shops, delis, cafés, green spaces and great views
- A local highlight is picturesque Gold Hill, famously captured in a 1970s Hovis advert directed by Ridley Scott. Stand at the top and admire the view of medieval England set against the rolling hills of the Blackmore Vale (there's also an excellent little cafe here if you want to linger)
- Visit Shaftesbury’s ancient Abbey (the remnants of a 9th-century Benedictine nunnery, founded by King Alfred), and its related museum and walled gardens
- This ancient landscape, where Dorset meets the border of Wiltshire and Somerset, offers numerous opportunities to explore historic, or even prehistoric, England: among them Stourhead's magnificent gardens (15 minutes' drive), Old Wardour Castle (25 minutes), and the iconic stone Stonehenge (25 minutes)
- Other attractions include Longleat House and Safari Park (15 minutes) and, on the doorstep, Cranborne Chase and the West Wiltshire Downs (380 square miles of downland, chalk grassland, ancient woodlands and river valleys, designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty)
- Rushmore Golf Club is just a short drive away, as is the Compton Abbas Airfield where pleasure flights can be taken
- Head for the coast - the sandy beaches of Bournemouth and the yachting harbours at Poole or Sandbanks are about 45 minutes south
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Museums / galleries
- Plantlife / flora
- Shopping / markets
Though not an obvious choice for children, the hotel is family-friendly and the area is great for an outdoorsy getaway. Adding baby cots and extra beds is good value, plus there's a children's menu in the restaurant.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
All but the Standard Rooms can hold an extra bed or baby cot; many rooms can be converted into twins suitable for older children. The Cranborne Suite is enormous – big enough to add 2 rollaway beds.
- Baby cots
- High chairs
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The Grosvenor Arms is in Shaftesbury, which is in north Dorset (on the border with Wiltshire and Somerset), in southwest England.
There is a small international airport at Bournemouth (43km /1-hour drive). Southampton (58km) and Bristol are also close. From here, it's best to hire a car or take a taxi.
A car is useful for exploring the surrounding area. The Grosvenor Arms is about 2.5 hours from London, and 1.5 hours from Bristol. See our car rental recommendations. There's no parking available at the hotel, but there are public car parks within walking distance.
The nearest station is at Gillingham (8km west of Shaftesbury); direct trains from London Waterloo take around 2 hours.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to the UK and getting around
- Bournemouth 43.0 km BOH
- Southampton 58.0 km SOU
- Beach 60.0 km
- Shops 0.1 km
- Restaurant 0.2 km