Sleepover: Plumber Manor

A night in Dorset

Plumber (the "b" is pronounced) is a grand old manor house reached via a stately driveway. The sign at the road is far too discreet to refer to the place as a hotel. Indeed, there's a sense that you are the invited guests of the Prideaux-Brunes, the family that has owned the estate since the early 17th century. The Divelish stream runs through the grounds and the sound of horses' hooves transports you to a more sedate era.

Where is it?

In Hardy's Dorset, where the hills roll, the villages slumber, and the nearby Cerne Giant unabashedly flaunts his assets. Just west of Sturminster Newton.

What's it like?

Plumber (the "b" is pronounced) is a grand old manor house reached via a stately driveway. The sign at the road is far too discreet to refer to the place as a hotel. Indeed, there's a sense that you are the invited guests of the Prideaux-Brunes, the family that has owned the estate since the early 17th century. The Divelish stream runs through the grounds and the sound of horses' hooves transports you to a more sedate era.

What's its USP?

The glorious setting. But Plumber Manor is a country-house hotel in the most traditional sense. Still, the owners are keen to think of it as a "restaurant with rooms"; you can see why.

Service?

Guests are treated with enormous courtesy and respect. Various Prideaux-Brunes are on hand at all times to make gin and tonics, talk you through local places of interest, and, above all, make you feel at home.

Rooms?

The manor itself has six bedrooms; the remaining 10 are in converted barn buildings around a courtyard. All are modern, tastefully done and well equipped with trouser presses and TVs, but lacking in such vulgarities as internet connection and PlayStations. Bed and breakfast in a small double costs from £50 per person per night or a superior double costs from £77.50.

Food?

The ritual of dinner is a splendid thing. Guests are first ushered into a comfortable sitting room for drinks, where menus are consulted and hors d'oeuvres nibbled. Then on to the elegant dining room, where the food is fantastic: heavy on local game and fish, with an extensive wine list and an over-laden dessert trolley.

Clientele?

Tweedy. The restaurant is much favoured by local bigwigs.

Things to do?

The manor is an excellent base for exploring the Dorset countryside. The coast is less than 30 miles away, and picturesque villages such as Milton Abbas vie for your attention with Lyme Regis and Abbotsbury.

Address?

Sturminster Newton, Dorset, DT10 2AF (01258 472507; www.prideofbritain hotels.com).

Ben Ross

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