The Ollerod

Beaminster, Dorset, United Kingdom
Book from GBP Book from £135 per night

The Ollerod

Beaminster, Dorset, United Kingdom

A cosy, cottagey country hotel with 13 lovely rooms and 2 separate apartments, set in rustic Beaminster, 6 miles inland from the Jurassic Coast

A cosy, cottagey country hotel with 13 lovely rooms and 2 separate apartments, set 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 the early noughties, it was given a new lease of life by a creative London couple, then 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, while the 2 self-catering apartments, located just next door, offer extra space and privacy. 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 and apartments 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
  • 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
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 13 rooms and 2 apartments
  • Restaurant and bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car recommended
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Rooms are found in the main house. If you want sloping floors, character and kingsize beds, go for a Superior room - 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 line-up includes a Family Suite. The less expensive Deluxe rooms are to the rear of the house, with pretty wallpapers and views of the garden or car park.

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.

Separate from the main house is the Coach House, which has two self-catering apartments. Navy and dove-grey colour schemes give them a smart, contemporary feel. Both have two bedrooms (one kingsize, one king/twin), while the ground-floor apartment comes with its own garden, so dogs are welcome.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Hairdryer
  • In-room treatments available
  • 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. Note that the restaurant is closed for lunch and dinner Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Breakfast (not included for apartment guests) 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.

Apartments have kitchens and dining areas for self-catering, but if you prefer to let someone else do the cooking (let's be honest, it would be a shame not to try Chris' creations), then book yourself into the restaurant.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Kids' meals
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian options
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 Superior Family Suite has a double bedroom and an adjoining twin room, the latter being a bit larger. Both Coach House Apartments have two bedrooms, one of which can be set up as a twin. If outside space is important, opt for the ground-floor apartment, which has a little garden. All rooms can hold a rollaway bed or baby cot (extra charge).

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Babysitting:

Babysitting available

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 is available, there's a shop selling baby food, and there are 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 a place to buy beach toys nearby. The Family Suite is situated above the bar, which closes at midnight.

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 3 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
9/10
Food
9/10
Service
7/10
Value
9/10
Overall

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Rates for The Ollerod

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