A quirky fantasy with gargoyles and an overlapping stone roof, this manor house might remind of you of the witch’s gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel, says our series editor Fiona Duncan. With its yellow exterior and terrific position overlooking Studland Bay, you are likely to fall for its enchantment from the moment you see it. Taken over in 2014 by Robin Hutson and David Elton of the PIG hotels, it is relaxing outside and cosy inside.
Once the holiday home of a historic landed family, it has retained an eccentric atmosphere with antiques and curios, chandeliers and vintage finds. It has been extended with a new wing by the hard-working team, and 23 spacious rooms – with period features and reclaimed floorboards – have been refurbished to a high standard. In one of the bedrooms you will find Portuguese carved woodwork, while in another a four-poster bed; all the rooms have Robert radios, well-stocked (and charmingly hidden) pantries and excellent bathrooms. Near the kitchen garden are two thatched follies exuding romance, and there is also a converted shepherd’s hut under the trees with a view you won’t forget.
In summer relax on the terrace in front of the dramatic panorama of Old Harry Rocks, and in winter enjoy the cosiness of the roaring fires. The beach is only a five-minute walk away, and the two converted sheep huts on the cliff where you can enjoy beauty treatments are only a few paces away.
As in all PIG hotels, the restaurant is decorated with herbs and edible flowers, a reminder that the kitchen garden provides plenty of the fresh ingredients picked and used daily. The focus is on fresh fish, which, like breakfast, is superb.