The Grosvenor Arms

Shaftesbury, Dorset, United Kingdom Book from Book from £85 per night

In medieval Shaftesbury, a traditional town-centre coaching inn reinvented as a funky hotel, perfect for foodies and country lovers
One of the oldest, highest and arguably the prettiest hill towns in rural England, Shaftesbury is the essence of olde Dorsetshire. It has Saxon roots, a whiff of Thomas Hardy, cobbles, thatch, and a bird’s-eye view of the Blackmore Vale from the top of iconic Gold Hill - famously captured in a sepia-tinted 1970s advert for Hovis loaves (directed, incidentally, by a young Ridley Scott).

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.

Highs

  • 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

Lows

  • 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 guests are provided with permits for one close by and can drop off luggage at reception
  • No lift access to the second-floor rooms; if this is important, request a first-floor Standard or Premium Room

Best time to go

Dorset is a year-round destination - lovely in the summer but less crowded in the spring and autumn (when it's perfect for walkers), and rarely freezing in the winter.

Our top tips

Pythouse Kitchen Garden in Tisbury is a beautiful spot to while away a warm afternoon. The pretty potting shed turned café serves tasty dishes with produce from the garden - where there's also plenty of seating and space for children to play.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Wedding
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 16
  • 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
  • Courtyard
Room:

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Satellite TV
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

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).

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • 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:

  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Wildlife

Kids

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.

Best for:

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 equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chairs

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

Children's meals:

The restaurant has a children's menu and the stone-baked pizzas are crowd pleasers.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

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

Very dog friendly, with even a goody bag for them. Lovely cosy feel about the place, and relaxing. Would recommend and would go back again.

8/10,

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