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Who would have thought that within this unassuming thatched cottage you can enjoy some of the best food for miles around? The eight rooms are comfortable but the food and beautiful countryside setting are the real stars. It lies in the heart of Thomas Hardy's Dorset, close to his birthplace.

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Rooms available from £105 per night

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Alexandra Richards
Travel writer and photographer
Alexandra Richards is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Dorset. She is the author of numerous guidebooks, including Bradt’s Slow Travel Guide to Dorset and the Bradt guide to Mauritius. She has a particular interest in food, wildlife, outdoor activities, remote places, travelling with children and encouraging an outdoor childhood.



Yalbury Cottage is in a tiny hamlet in the pretty Dorset countryside. This is Thomas Hardy's old stomping ground - his birthplace and school are nearby. You'll need a car to explore - two miles away is Dorchester with its Roman ruins and museums, and the coast is a 30-minute drive. Maiden Castle near Dorchester, one of Europe's largest Iron Age hillforts, is worth a visit.

By car: around 3 hours 30 minutes from London, 2 hours from Bristol and 4 hours from Birmingham. Free parking available.

By train: trains from London to Dorchester take 4 hours. The hotel is 10 minutes' drive. Book trains to Dorchester.

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Homely, intimate and characterful. The thatched cottage dates back over 300 years and is full of period features, especially the dining room and sitting room with their low ceilings, brick fireplaces and beams. The pretty garden overlooking the fields is a great spot for pre-dinner drinks in summer.


Aside from the restaurant, there aren't additional facilities, but that doesn't matter as it's all about the food and relaxation. Owners Ariane and Jamie go out of their way to make guests feel at home, and their staff are clearly very well trained, making the fine dining experience even more special.

  • Terrace
  • Restaurant
  • Garden
  • Pet-friendly
  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi


The eight en-suite rooms are simply furnished but very comfortable and clean. They all have a pretty outlook - over the gardens or the surrounding countryside. The rooms are in a newer part of the cottage, so feel more spacious and light than the restaurant and sitting room.

Room types: Room, Family Room

Key amenities: ensuite bathroom with toiletries, tea and coffee facilities, bottled water, flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi


Dinner is utterly memorable, starting with pre-dinner drinks in the sitting room. The artistic amuse-bouche will bring a smile to your face. Local, seasonal produce is the star of the show, crafted into creative dishes. Choose from two or three courses, with options from the sea, garden and fields.

The Restaurant: relaxed dining room. British cuisine, locally-sourced ingredients. Dishes include gurnard fillet, rack of lamb and braised beef brisket. Open Tue-Sat, 1-3pm and 6-8:30pm. Open Sun, 12-2pm.

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