a lovely getaway two hours from London

King’s Arms Hotel (King’s Arms PR)

Get away from the busy city life of London for a weekend retreat in Dorchester at the King’s Arms.

Having seen centuries of history pass through its doors, the hotel is an iconic and treasured redevelopment landmark. With its intertwined history with writer Thomas Hardy and a glamorous guest list that includes Queen Victoria, the Beatles and Hardy himself, a stay here is sure to be a memorable one.

Where is?

The hotel is located within the walls of the Roman city of Dorchester. It’s just an 11-minute walk from both Dorchester South and Dorchester West stations. Located on the north side of the city, The King’s Arms is a stone’s throw from the Dorset Museum, Shire Hall and St Peter’s Church, three places I recommend visiting to make the most of what the city has to offer. Also nearby are the only remaining Roman ruins in the country, which are free to visit.

The King's Arms Hotel bar is the perfect place to have a drink with friends (The King's Arms PR)

The King’s Arms Hotel bar is the perfect place to have a drink with friends (The King’s Arms PR)


The King’s Arms is where cozy meets modern, with an interior designed by Ali Guttridge, it’s a marriage of the unexpected and the memorable. The Grade II listed building, although originally built around 300 years ago, received an update in 2022, bringing it into the modern age while retaining its historic charm.

It’s decadent but open and warm. There is no lobby at the King’s Arms, instead the check-in desk is a quaint nook off a spiral staircase just inside the entrance. Behind the desk, trinkets and plants sit on shelves and several miniature antique chandeliers catch the eye as they float above the stairs.

To the left, an archway welcomes you into a long cocktail bar where forest-green silk lampshades with dip-dyed fringe hang over the tables. Just past the stairs to the right, double doors lead guests into the dining area, which is filled with tables and wooden booths surrounded by a mix of soft cotton and yellow teal velvet club chairs and dining chairs. with textured woven fabric.

The ground floor of the hotel includes a restaurant, a cocktail bar, a former smoking room, which is used as an additional dining room and a lovely place to enjoy afternoon tea and something sweet, and an outdoor garden patio for the warmest days. The bedrooms are located on the upper levels.

the epic suite

There are 34 rooms, all of which have the feeling of being at home. Rooms have hand-painted wallpapers, layered fabrics, and contemporary finishes like handcrafted brass wall sconces in the shape of figurines, and sun and nightstand dresser and desks topped in natural Carrara marble. There are six different room types, from Snug to Epic, each varying in size, price, and amenities. First floor rooms are dog friendly.

The Epic is a particularly luxurious retreat with hardwood floors, high ceilings, and large windows. The room is accented in shades of blue, gray and green and includes a freestanding roll-top tub that sits against the bay window. A brightly colored sofa or chairs create a space for reading or lounging. One of my favorite touches in the room was a Pure radio that played classical music upon arrival, transporting guests to a different time.

All rooms are equipped with Smart TV, Pure Radios, hairdryer and Nespresso coffee machine.

Claw-foot tubs and sofas included in some rooms at the King's Arms (The King's Arms PR)

Claw-foot tubs and sofas included in some rooms at the King’s Arms (The King’s Arms PR)

food and drink

The hotel restaurant serves simple, seasonal food that is locally grown and organic whenever possible.

The atmosphere of the restaurant maintains the aesthetics of the rest of the hotel, modern but welcoming. In the dining room, enjoy a multi-course feast of sprouted butternut and arancino, grilled bavette steak with green pepper sauce and dauphinoise potatoes accompanied by a specialty cocktail or glass of wine. A table favorite was the Dorset Bramble gin-based cocktail. Finish off the meal with something sweet, like sticky toffee-ginger pudding or chocolate mousse and cinnamon donuts. Or, for something tastier, finish dinner with the King’s Arms Cheese Board: an array of Dorset-made cheeses, homemade crackers and ginger chutney.

After dinner, stroll through the lobby to the bar and enjoy a tea, coffee or other cocktail. This part of the hotel is a lively spot for an evening with friends or for people watching if you can get a seat near the front window.

In the morning, guests can return to the restaurant for breakfast, choosing from a buffet of fresh fruit juice, pastries and cereals, and then move on to the a la carte menu, which includes the King’s Arms version of a full English.

The King's Arms restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner with specialty cocktails such as the Dorset Bramble (The King's Arms PR)

The King’s Arms restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner with specialty cocktails such as the Dorset Bramble (The King’s Arms PR)

Better for…

A quiet weekend just two hours from London. Enjoy a beautiful stay as you retrace the steps of history.


The Epic Room is £225 per night, add breakfast for two plus a dinner credit for an extra £20.

Other rooms range from £105 to £200 per night.


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