THE BULL HOTEL, BRIDPORT, DORSET
WHAT’S THE SCOOP? For a romantic weekend away, consider The Bull Hotel in the trendy market town of Bridport – often considered the “gateway to the Jurassic Coast”. With super-stylish rooms, fine food and even a “secret” cocktail lounge, this historic coaching inn, run by Fuller’s, has all the ingredients for the perfect staycation.
ARE MUDDY PAWS WELCOME? They certainly are. Dogs are allowed in a handful of the rooms for an additional £30 per night. When we visited, there were some bowls already waiting for Ernie as well as a pack of tasty sausage treats.
Guests are welcome to dine with their dog in the cosy bar area or outdoor courtyard but pets are not allowed in the main restaurant. Pampered pets can also enjoy a freshly-cooked sausage at breakfast time.
AND WHEN I’M DOG TIRED? Check into one of the 19 beautiful bedrooms, all of which have been individually designed. We stayed in The Mews (or Room 303) – a Deluxe Double that overlooked the courtyard, away from the noise of the main street. It was more like a studio apartment than a room, with a wisteria-covered porch, large bay window, lounge area and enormous bed. The stylish bathroom had both a roll-top bath and rainforest shower, as well as fluffy white robes and lush Bramley toiletries.
Although the room had all the mod-cons you could possibly expect – including a large flatscreen TV, Dyson phone, Nespresso machine and DAB radio – it also had nods to the past. I particularly liked the arch-shaped window which showcased, yet protected, part of the original 16th Century floor. The thick blinds and curtains were much appreciated, too. We slept so well, in fact, that we almost missed breakfast – and trust me, that NEVER happens!
If you need a bit more space to spread out or relax, head to the Ostler Room, where you’ll find comfy sofas, bean bags, table football and a games console. Conveniently, this communal play area is below the Venner Bar – a “secret” cocktail lounge that’s tucked behind the ballroom (a popular wedding venue). It was sadly closed on the evening we were in town but I had a little peek through the door and it looked great. Definitely make time for an after-dinner drink here, if you can.
HOW ARE THE SCOOBY SNACKS? Really good. Dinner is quite a formal affair and sees classic British dishes given a modern twist. The Fuller’s London Pride battered haddock and chips is perennially popular while the aubergine and tomato ragout went down a treat with us. The hotel also has a separate Moules Frites menu and its Sunday roast is a hit with both locals and guests.
Head through the courtyard towards the car park and you’ll also discover The Stable. It’s not linked to the hotel but this rustic cider bar serves amazing wood-fired pizzas and champions West Country produce. The entrance was pretty much opposite our room so it would have been rude not to pop in and check it out. Dogs are also welcome inside and arty Bridport has many pet-friendly coffee shops, such as Soulshine Café.
ANY FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS TO PLAY WITH? There is no resident hotel dog but your pooch won’t feel lonely – almost everyone in Bridport has a four-legged friend.
WHERE’S GOOD FOR WALKIES? Don’t miss a trip to West Bay, just a mile-and-a-half up the road. This harbour town has a huge shingle beach and its spectacular cliffs provided the backdrop for ITV hit drama, Broadchurch. After you’ve stretched your legs, refuel at the Watch House Café on the beach, which is renowned for its coffee, cake and wood-fired pizza. It’s popular with dog owners, who are welcome on the large outdoor deck.
West Bay is a key location on the Jurassic Coast, which dates back more than 185 million years. There are plenty of walking trails that pass through the UNESCO World Heritage Site – including the South West Coast Path. If you’re feeling adventurous, try and make a dent on the 630-mile route, which is the longest in England and runs from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset.
The path was originally created by coastguards who patrolled the area for smugglers but it’s not the only way to soak up the local scenery. On her website, former Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury recommends a 6.3-mile walk that starts at the Domesday village of Symondsbury, near Bridport, and takes in the “Golden Cap” – the highest point on the south coast – before ending at a dog-friendly pub. Alternatively, there’s a lovely 3.8-mile circular walk from Bridport to Eype that also takes in West Bay.
WHAT ERNIE LOVED: The treats in the room, being so close to the beaches of the Jurassic Coast, the sausage for breakfast
WHAT I LOVED: Having the best sleep I’d had in ages, thanks to our dark, quiet room, the beautiful courtyard, the location – Bridport itself is lovely!
GET ON THE DOG AND BONE: Rooms at The Bull Hotel start from £99 a night, including breakfast. For more information or to book a stay, call 01308 422878 or click here to visit the hotel website.