There aren’t many cobbled streets that summon the depth of feeling that Gold Hill in Shaftesbury does. Made iconic in a cockle-warming 1970s Hovis commercial directed by Ridley Scott, it continues to represent old-fashioned values of an England long gone. A stone’s throw from this fabled street, the Grosvenor Arms hotel offers the charm of a traditional coaching inn combined with the comfort of a 21st century crashpad.
Having recently undergone a change at the top and a head-to-toe refurb, the Grosvenor Arms in Shaftesbury is an elegant Georgian building with plenty of contemporary cunning. There’s a hint of Soho House, a dash of Bamford and a soupcon of Orla Kiely. Clearly a well-travelled man, flashes of spice colours and vivid threads brought back from Turkey and Uzbekistan sit well alongside jaunty antiques and frayed maps, giving the place a distinctly on-trend feel.
Guests naturally converge at the bar (a slab of wood salvaged from an old shipwreck) within a cosy panelled living room furnished with Chesterfield sofas and nautical knotted pouffes. Hailing from Jamaica, the hotel’s barman makes a mean rum punch and has a killer smile.
There’s also plenty of warmth to be found in the Grosvenor Arms’ 16 guest rooms and suites. Decked out in smart linens with retro bedside lamps and nifty capsule-click coffee machines, original wonky doorframes and uneven floors all add to the charm – some rooms even come with their own log fires (check out the Cranborne suite). Cool limes, warm caramels and perky pink tartan may not speak to the most discerning of stylistas, but everything feels fresh and cheerful, and the tray of homemade brownies are a welcome touch.
Downstairs, British chef Neil Duffet is at the helm in a large, airy dining room. Serving locally sourced fish and game as well as thin-crust pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven, there’s nowhere better to dine locally. Previously of Lime Wood in Hampshire, Duffet has a nose for sniffing out the best local suppliers. Organic meat and fresh eggs are delivered weekly along with hand-dived Weymouth Bay scallops, Poole Bay cockles and smoked fish from the Chesil Smokery in Bridport. Pizza-wise, there’s nothing as pedestrian as a Margherita on the specials board – ‘Wiltshire rabbit, Westcombe ricotta, capers, olives and chili’ is what you’ll find instead.
Food is definitely where the Grosvenor Arms excels, and a hearty meal is what attracts most. We’d recommend dining at the weekend, as mid-week early closing may prove a disappointment. While the Grosvenor Arms might not be a destination in itself, for anyone planning a roadtrip to blustery Cornwall or the Dorset coast in coming months, this chic little coaching inn will provide a delightful rest-stop.
In the Area…
The Grosvenor Arms is perfectly positioned for exploring the charming hilltop market town of Shaftesbury. From Park Walk, you can drink in pastoral views of the Blackmore vale with its clutter of red-tiled roofs and smoking chimneys, or snuggle up in the cosy climes of the Mitre pub for a pint of Dorset cider. A picturesque thoroughfare is lined with topsy-turvy shops selling all sorts of things your Nan would love. Make sure you pick up a traditional Dorset Apple cake to take home with you. For something more challenging, take a romp in the surrounding Downs. There are plenty of signposted 5km walks to choose from (just ask at reception). And take wellies!
Rooms at The Grosvenor Arms start from £135 for a double and £215 for a suite including breakfast. For more information, see the hotel’s website or call +44 (0) 1747 850 580