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The King’s Arms, Dorchester

Former guests at this Dorset foodie pub with rooms, include Queen Victoria, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones – now it's your turn.

Weekend Escapes
Read our review of The King’s Arms, Dorchester

The 300-year-old former coaching inn, reincarnated in September 2020 as a super laid-back foodie pub, has links with Thomas Hardy and previous guests include Queen Victoria, King George IV, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. But we don’t think any of them would recognise the place after its swanky £5 million (yep!) refurb.

The latest addition to Stay Original’s portfolio of boutique West Country inns, which includes The Swan in Wedmore, The Grosvenor Arms in Shaftesbury and The White Hart in Somerton is looking very good indeed.

The Stay Original ethos is authenticity, so the inn’s historic architecture is complemented – not swamped – by contemporary interiors, up-cycled lighting and antique finds. The menu’s along the same lines, with award-winning Executive Chef Tom Blake and Head Chef Steve Yates overseeing the locally sourced, inventive but not poncy menus; you can try something new or go for a more classic dish.

Eat in the spacious restaurant, bar and Old Smoking Room on the ground floor. Kids are welcome, with their own dedicated menu or smaller dishes from the main menu. Dogs are welcome in the bar, Old Smoking Room and out on the terrace.

The elegant new Casterbridge Room, named in Hardy’s honour (he’s said to have written much of the Mayor of Casterbridge here), is a flexible space for meetings, presentations and get-togethers of up to 70 people.

Come for breakfast (the harrisa’s a nice touch on the smashed avocado, roasted tomatoes and toast; homemade granola; full English with veggie version). Lots to tempt on the main menu. Starters like dhokla with heritage beetroot or River Fowey mushrooms with Harry’s cider and Blue Vinney. Mains include interesting dishes like flat iron chicken with succotash sweetcorn salsa or butternut squash & apricot m’hanncha pie with tagine sauce, as well as daily fish dishes, chargrilled burgers and steak. Desserts are particularly yummy: chocolate mocha mousse and doughnuts, tarts and homemade ice-creams. But then so are the West Country cheeses!

Sleepover in 20 fab bedrooms, with nine more coming by mid November and a further seven early in 2022.



This month in dorset

30 High Street, Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1HF
01305 238238

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