Beaminster – or Emminster in Thomas Hardy’s Tess – sits in a lush Dorset valley. From the hills above, you drop through glorious country, rolling down to this old market town, where the church tower soars towards heaven. As for this lovely hotel, it’s a 14th-century priest’s house and comes with original trimmings: stone flags, mullioned windows, old beams and huge inglenooks.
You’re looked after beautifully but it’s the friendliness you’ll remember – there’s no pomp or ceremony, it’s intimate and deeply comfortable, with something beautiful at every turn. The kitchen champions local ingredients, including fish straight from the waves. Bubbly Silvana is front of house and takes great care to make sure you’re as happy as a sandboy.
It’s worth exploring the village, particularly the church and its magnificent tower with 41 ‘crocketted’ pinnacles. You’re right next door to the Beaminster Museum and when you’ve done with that there are five circular walks in the hills surrounding you.