Summer Lodge – Evershot, Dorset
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Set in four acres of Hardy country, this 18th-century manor was enlarged for the Earl of Ilchester in 1893 by a local architect – Thomas Hardy himself. Today, the house is filled with beautiful fabrics, patterns and objects: never has a country hotel felt more like an elegant lady, coiffed and perfumed, about to go to the ball. As for the bedrooms – oh, the comfort – they lack for nothing: there are even fleece-covered hot-water bottles to warm your bed. The best is the new garden suite in Bea’s Cottage, which has a sitting room, cocktail bar and private walled garden. For connoisseurs of drink, it’s hard to beat: sommelier Eric Zwiebel’s cellar, noted for its energetic eclecticism, is stocked with well over 300 whiskies, armagnacs and cognacs, plus 1,500 wine bins, while Steven Titman’s cooking squares up perfectly with his delightful tasting menus. There are many reasons to choose Summer Lodge – not least the boutique spa and indoor pool – but if you are planning a celebration, from four people to 70, then look no further: they orchestrate such occasions beautifully.
Doubles from £215
+44 (0)1935 482000; summerlodgehotel.co.uk