How do staff at Plumber Manor make their guests feel cosy? ‘Oh, that’s easy,’ says owner Richard Prideaux-Brune. ‘We settle them into squashy sofas around a roaring fire, which we light at 3pm every afternoon. The labrador falls asleep and we serve homemade shortbread and fruitcake for tea. We just tuck them up really.’ In the same family – one of the oldest in Dorset – since the 17th century, Plumber Manor is for anyone who loves places that are timeless, even faded, with portraits in gilded frames. Think of your favourite great aunt. She is tweedy and stout, set in her ways, a bit eccentric, and though opinionated, a softie at heart. As is Plumber Manor, one of this country’s most endearing and loved country-house hotels, with beautiful riverside gardens. Bedrooms are staunchly traditional, floral and homely, but the real joy here is the marvellous cooking of Brian Prideaux-Brune. Whatever you do, leave room for the pudding trolley. Doubles from £160.
Name to Know: June has been at Plumber Manor for 26 years and is a source of much knowledge in the local area.
See: Take a tour of the charming Thomas Hardy route round the beautiful villages – Shaftesbury, Marnhull, Okeford Fitzpaine and Cerne Abbas or take a nice long country walk along one of the famous Dorset trails.
Eat: In the hotel restaurant – it has been in the ‘Good Food Guide’ every year for 38 years. Try the renowned locally farmed fillet steak and the homemade pudding trolley.
Buy: Visit Hauser and Wirth art gallery in Bruton, or head to one of the many National Trust properties in the area.
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