Get away from the hectic city life of London in exchange for a weekend in Dorchester at the King’s Arms.
The hotel, which has seen centuries of history pass through its doors, is an emblematic and precious monument renovated. With its history tied to writer Thomas Hardy and a roster of glamorous guests including Queen Victoria, the Beatles and Hardy himself, a stay here is sure to be memorable.
Where is he?
The hotel is located within the walls of the Roman city of Dorchester. It is just an 11 minute walk from Dorchester South and Dorchester West train stations. Nestled on the north side of the city, The King’s Arms is a stone’s throw from Dorset Museum, Shire Hall and St. Peter’s Church – three places I recommend visiting to fully experience what the city has to offer. Nearby are also the only remaining Roman ruins in the country, which can be visited for free.
The King’s Arms is where comfort meets the modern, with an interior designed by Ali Guttridge, it’s a marriage of the unexpected and the memorable. The Grade II listed building, although originally built around 300 years ago, was modernized in 2022, bringing it into the modern era while retaining its historic charm.
It’s decadent yet open and warm. There is no lobby at the King’s Arms, instead the check-in desk is a quaint nook next to a spiral staircase just inside the entrance. Behind the desk, trinkets and plants rest on shelves, and several antique mini-chandeliers catch your eye as they float above the stairs.
To the left, an archway welcomes you into a long cocktail bar where forest-green silk lampshades with tinted fringe hang above the tables. Just past the stairs to the right, double doors lead guests into the dining room, which is filled with wooden tables and booths surrounded by a mix of soft teal cotton and yellow velvet club chairs and dining chairs. eat in woven textured fabric.
The ground floor of the hotel features a restaurant, a cocktail bar, a former smoking room – used as an additional dining room and a delightful place to indulge in afternoon tea and something sweet – and an outdoor garden-patio for the warmer days. The rooms are located on the upper floors.
The epic sequel
There are 34 rooms, all of which feel like home. Bedrooms feature hand-painted wallpapers, layered textiles, and contemporary finishes, such as hand-crafted brass wall sconces in the shape of figurines, and marble-topped chest of drawers and sun and bedside desks natural from Carrara. There are six different room types, from Snug to Epic, each varying in size, price, and amenities. First floor rooms are dog friendly.
The Epic is a particularly luxurious haven, with wooden floors, high ceilings and large windows. The bedroom is accented in shades of blue, gray and green and features a freestanding freestanding tub that rests against the bay window. A brightly colored sofa or armchairs create a space for reading or relaxing. One of my favorite touches to the room was a Pure radio playing classical music upon arrival, transporting guests to another era.
All rooms are equipped with smart TVs, Pure radios, hairdryers and Nespresso machines.
The hotel restaurant serves simple seasonal cuisine, locally grown and organic where possible.
The atmosphere of the restaurant fits in with the aesthetics of the rest of the hotel, which is modern but cozy. In the dining room, savor a multi-course feast of butternut squash and sprout arancino, grilled flank steak with green peppercorn sauce, and scalloped potatoes accompanied by a specialty cocktail or a glass of wine. A table favorite was the Dorset Bramble gin cocktail. Finish the meal with something sweet, like sticky caramel ginger pudding or chocolate mousse and cinnamon donuts. Or, for something tastier, round off dinner with the King’s Arms cheese platter – a variety of Dorset-made cheeses, homemade crackers and ginger chutney.
After dinner, stroll through the lobby to the bar and enjoy a tea, coffee or other cocktail. This part of the hotel is a lively hotspot for a night out with friends or people-watching, if you can manage to sit by the front window.
In the morning, you can return to the restaurant for breakfast, choosing from a buffet of fresh juices, pastries and cereals, then move on to the a la carte menu, which includes the King’s Arms takes full English.
A peaceful weekend just two hours from London. Enjoy a beautiful stay while retracing the stages of history.
The Epic room is £225 per night, add breakfast for two plus a dinner credit for an additional £20.
Other rooms range from £105 to £200 per night.