Where to Stay in Dorset
From Poole to Westbourne, read up on our best picks of where to stay in Dorset
Classically British and incredibly beautiful, Dorset knows how amazing it is. Dotted with quaint villages, gently rolling hills and gorgeous sunken lanes (which are a nightmare for reversing up), there’s a reason why it’s such a popular destination. When you’re deciding where to stay in Dorset, we here at Plum Guide can help you out. We've put our expert heads together and curated this expert guide just for you, so you can plan a trip to remember, safe in the knowledge that you're making the most of your time away.
Poole is truly the jewel in Dorset’s crown, with lots to do and see for all the family. The second largest natural harbour in the world, it’s both a working town and a tourist destination with impressive beaches, well-maintained gardens and great accessibility for the rest of the county. In the 1700s, Poole was one of the UK’s most active ports; now, things are slightly quieter, but there is still a cross-Channel ferry terminal here if you fancy popping to France. As it’s so shielded from the sea and wind, Poole is heaven for adrenaline junkies who love water sports. Nature lovers should also rejoice, as much of the harbour backs on to nature reserves, with plenty of deer and birds enjoying Poole just as much as you are.
Weymouth captured the hearts and minds of many when it hosted many of the water-based activities in the 2012 Olympic Games. The golden sands here will remind you of bucolic summers you experienced as a child - or that you wish you experienced, anyway. Pull up a deckchair and enjoy one of England’s most beautiful beaches. The historic harbour is also a very attractive place to while away the hours sipping an Aperol Spritz at one of the many cute bars and restaurants, watching the yachts, sailing boats, fishing skiffs and ferries go by.
Culture is also a priority here, with a visit to Nothe Fort essential. Built in Victorian times to protect Portland Harbour, it’s a network of underground passages - you never know, you might just find a smuggler around one of the corners. When you’re back blinking in the sunlight, head to one of Weymouth’s many pubs and have a seafood supper. Weymouth should definitely be on your list of where to stay in Dorset.
If you’re looking for something slightly more rural when you’re choosing where to stay in Dorset, Bridport can deliver for you. It’s the official gateway to the Jurassic coast which, as well as having a cool name that your kids will love, is a truly breathtaking place to spend your holiday - we've recommended it as one of the best places to visit in Dorset. A well-established market town, it’s also a great spot for lovers of shopping and those with an eye for design. Street markets are held every Wednesday and Saturday and there’s also a Vintage Market once a month, so don’t forget your credit card.
Food lovers can also rejoice as there’s a Farmers Market held on the second Saturday of every month. In fact, the whole place is a beacon town for promoting the high quality and huge variety of local food, so you’d better come hungry - although that won’t be a problem when there’s such beautiful countryside waiting for you to hike through.
Known as the fashion district of Dorset, our readers with great taste should strongly consider Westbourne when booking a trip to Dorset. This quaint, pretty town is packed to the rafters with independent shops, restaurants with menus that make you drool and cafes just begging to craft you the best cappuccino of your life. When you’re shopped out, you can head to one of Westbourne’s award-winning beaches or stroll to the enchanted wooded valley of Alum Chine. A Winnie-the-Pooh-esque suspension bridge connects the two sides of the bucolic valley. There’s also lots of history here: Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Treasure Island, lived nearby - inspired in his work by pirates operating nearby, perhaps.