The Stapleton Arms

Buckhorn Weston, Dorset, United Kingdom Book from

A perfect pub in rural Dorset with local ales, delicious food and just 4 bedrooms
Buckhorn Weston rolls off the tongue nicely. Say its name and you can picture any sleepy village in rural Dorset. Church, post office and pub are all you can expect, but the Stapleton Arms with its 4 bedrooms is worth a special trip. The slate by its entrance declares "children and dogs welcome", but don't worry if you're neither: inside it's also grown-up friendly with Farrow & Ball colours, scrubbed wood tables, comfy sofas and a crackling fire. Dozens of local ale and farm ciders, as well as delicious homemade pork pies, tempt you at the bar. At the end of a day's walking, kick off your wellies and feast in its lovely restaurant painted in Hague Blue to bring on the perfect mood.

Their annual conker championship made us smile, as did the giant Connect 4 in the garden and boules pitch out front. Stay on a Sunday and there's an excellent pub quiz, packed out with locals. But it's the attitude to your Sunday roast we really loved; you do the carving and keep any leftovers for sandwiches. Now that's some gastro-imagination.

Highs

  • The quiet rural location, just 2 hours from London and an hour from Bristol
  • Fresh stylish bedrooms to hide away in, with White Company robes, lovely toiletries and DVD players for rainy days
  • Excellent staff and friendly, thoughtful service: we liked their "things to do" suggestions on the back of your breakfast menu
  • Walking in the countryside: they'll provide maps, wellies and brollies and pack you off with a picnic
  • Truly excellent food using local seasonal ingredients: we loved our squid and mackerel mini burgers, Sunday roasts, and the summer pudding was our best ever

Lows

  • Can get busy on Saturday nights and Sunday lunchtimes, but they'll save you a table if you're staying the night
  • Patchy WiFi, which they are looking into
  • There's a local railway line in the distance but the noise was not disturbing or intrusive

Best time to go

Any time of year: in winter for crackling fires; in spring and summer for enjoying the local countryside, cricket green behind and village fêtes; in autumn to see the trees changing colours and for the conker championship.

Our top tips

Stay on a Sunday night. We had a perfect day of walking in the countryside, followed by a delicious Sunday roast, a DVD, then the local pub quiz.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Pub with Rooms
  • 4
  • 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
  • Wellies and maps to borrow
  • Weekly pub quiz
Room:

Rooms

The 4 bedrooms are located above the pub but accessed via a separate door. Enter the small hallway and you'll first notice the wellies you can use to explore the local countryside. For the curious, there are local maps and other info packs on top of a wooden chest, which hides a fridge with fresh milk for your tea and coffee.

Once up the steep stairs, each of the bedrooms is bright, clean and airy with a mix of contemporary and antique pieces. Expect hand-sprung mattresses, Egyptian cotton bed linens and DVD players (you'll find a small selection of films downstairs). Sparkling water, tea and Illy coffee (with cafetière) are provided in each room. Bathrooms give you fluffy bathrobes and white towels from the White Company and toiletries from Crabtree & Evelyn. It didn't matter that most rooms face the road: soundproofing's effective and it's a quiet village.

Number 1 at the top of the stairs is the biggest. Its bed is French antique, made in walnut and blends well with the burgundy walls and stone-coloured carpets. There's plenty of space for a sofabed (which can sleep 2), writing desk and a walk-in wardrobe. The bathroom faces the garden (bedroom is roadside) and has a deluge shower plus a bath with a traditional wooden tray.

Number 2 is also roadside and a favourite with returning guests. We stayed in this in 2012 and loved it. It's more contemporary in style than the others: a brass bed (which is comfy but a bit squeaky, honeymooners beware!), cool spotted blankets and a purple sofabed (useful for 1 child). There's a large bathroom with an impressive free-standing bath (with shower hand-set only) and pretty Fired Earth mosaic tiles.

Number 3 is the smallest of the rooms but just as comfortable and bright, with views over the garden and French windows opening onto a flat roof. We admired the modern wrought-iron bed but found the storage space a tad limited. Its good-sized bathroom has polished limestone tiles and a bath with rainstorm shower overhead.

Number 4 is on a split level: the bathroom's up a few steps (walk-in shower only). It's a spacious room decked out in pale cream and duck-egg blue. We liked the cosy hideout feel: could be a useful option for spying on the local post office opposite (but don't expect too much action on this front).

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

You get the best of both worlds here. Eat in the bar area with its log fire, slate floor and comfy sofas, or go for the dining room with more formal antique chairs and tables. We found both delightful but especially the restaurant: its well-spaced candlelit tables, Farrow & Ball Hague Blue decor and attentive service won our hearts and produced the perfect atmosphere.

These days you expect serious foodies to use fresh and locally sourced produce, and here, they certainly comply. Veg is from John Rosewell of Barrington, meat from Barclay Butchers of Wincanton, fish delivered daily from Samways of Bridport, cheeses from North Cadbury. The results are simple yet delicious modern dishes.

For dinner, typical starters include chilli and ginger marinated squid, seared venison carpaccio on a beetroot salad (melted in the mouth) or sticky honey and sesame seed pork salad. For mains we chose ribeye steak and plaice with a lime and caper butter. All pleasant enough but it was the sensational sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce. This was enough to make us want to return, and return we did in 2012. On this occasion we loved the miniature squid and mackerel burgers, thought the lamb with celeriac puree divine, and the summer pudding with cream-tea ice cream was unbelievably good.

There's a decent wine list, a revolving selection of local ales and farm ciders plus a huge range of draught and bottled beers from around the globe. Juices from Devon's Luscombe Farm and tonic from Fever Tree show they're veering from the mainstream.

Breakfast is a treat, too: an array of juices, cereals and fresh fruit along with an excellent full English, Dorset kippers or good ol' boiled egg with soldiers. For lunch you can go "lite" with smaller dishes such as grilled goat's cheese on roasted artichoke salad or a traditional Ploughman's with outstanding local cheeses. Walkers can ask for a packed picnic to eat en route.

If you're here on a weekend, don't miss their sensational Sunday Roasts. We were blown away by the succulent loin of pork with homemade pear and apple sauce, duck-fat roasties and perfectly cooked veg.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Organic produce
  • Picnics on request
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Go for country walks: they'll give you a map, tell you where to go and pack you off with a picnic. Afterwards, kick off your gumboots, laze by the fire in winter or cool down in summer with a refreshing local cider in the garden

  • Curl up in bed and watch a good film (all rooms have DVD players and there's a decent selection of DVDs available to borrow)

  • Kids can play in their garden on their giant Connect 4 set, or run around on the playing fields beyond

  • Go shopping: Shaftesbury (15 mins) is home to the famous Gold Hill (where they filmed the classic Hovis ad), and a handful of boutiques - our favourites are 1770 for designer gadgets and Mine for quirky womanswear (labels include Saltwater and Orla Kiely) plus cute things for babies); Sherborne (25 mins) is a picturesque market town and Bath (1 hr) makes a good day trip

  • Head for the coast: there's Studland Bay (50mins) with its sandy beach and beyond that the Jurassic Coast (World Heritage Site)

  • From time to time there are village treats: the annual conker championship, wine tasting, village fêtes, or mini beer festivals

  • Wincanton racecourse is about a 10-minute drive; good riding stables are close by

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

Children are welcome and it's a lovely place to come on a sunny weekend when they can play in the garden, which leads to the village playing fields and cricket ground.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

There is a double sofa bed in Room 1 and a single sofabed in Room 2 for older children. If you're travelling with a baby, a travelcot can be provided in any of the rooms. Room 1 is the largest and can accommodate 2 adults, 2 children and 1 baby max. Rooms 1, 2 and 3 have a bathtub.

Babysitting:

Available by advance request

Baby listening:

Baby monitors to borrow, with reception from the restaurant to the bedrooms

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chairs
  • Baby bedding
  • Bottle warming

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

Children's meals:

A kids menu is available 12 noon-3pm and 6-8pm, which includes shepherds pie, pasta, organic salmon, Funny Face Pizza or their own Hot Stodge pudding. You can use the communal fridge at the bottom of the stairs to store milk and baby food

Kids Activities on site:

  • Small garden which leads to the village playing fields and cricket pitch
  • Basket of toys and crayons in the bar
  • Children's DVDs
  • Outdoor playground
  • Farm animals nearby

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Sandy beaches like Southbourne are nearby
  • Horse riding
  • Swimming pool in Wincanton
  • Soft play centre Climb Aboard 2 miles away
  • Longleat, Fleet Air Arm Museum, Haynes Motor Museum in driving distance

Families Should Know:

There is a mobile phone signal everywhere in the property. The closest supermarkets and pharmacies are 3 miles away.

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Hospital: 25 minutes
Kid Friendly: Southbourne Beac

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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