THE GROSVENOR ARMS: A STAY AT SHAFTESBURY’S OLDEST INN
A recent family reunion close to the medieval town of Shaftesbury, initiated our stay at The Grosvenor Arms. A beautifully styled, 16 room coaching Inn set in the centre of Shaftesbury juxtapositioned perfectly on the cobble stoned streets, old world buildings and the famous Gold Hill.
Formerly known as The Red Lion, The Grosvenor Arms has been carefully refurbished by the Stay Original Company, back in 2016. The company are quite small but seek out traditional Inns and restore them into stunning boutique hotels, each one unique and quirky with it’s own charms but always stylish abodes with fabulous locally sourced produce on offer. Currently, The Stay Original Company have four boutique Inns and will soon be opening their fifth in Dorchester. They contain all the mod cons but with an understated charm with welcoming and friendly staff to receive and take care of your every need. The Grosvenor Arms most definitely stands out with its muted cream exterior and heavyset Georgian archways, exposed stripped wood floors and country house décor including wall mounted antlers, peacock feathers, natural sisal carpets.
This room will probably be your first intro to the hotel and it’s pretty much like entering a lounge with a large coffee table in the middle of the room. Decorated in Scandi tones with pops of colours in the form of floral cushions and a reception desk in the bay window.
THE DRAWING ROOM
To the left of the entrance is a drawing room with a fire, perfect to enjoy winter evenings snuggled up with board games. The inviting grey walls, comfy sofas interspersed with the dark wood tables and stylish large clock gives the feeling of home but with a splash of exuberance and country charm.
The atmosphere is cosy, informal and as mentioned previously, The bar area has an atmosphere which feels a lot like walking into your local pub. It’s dressed with upholstered chairs, a log burner, interspersed seating with fancy shower crystal hanging lights and a polished wood bar top. The bar serves a range of drinks including cocktails, long drinks and shorts as well as hot drinks. And of course plenty of antlers for visuals!
You can also purchase a number of snacks, including cakes from here. The hanging antlers make an appearance over an informal seating in the form of sofas and chairs. The laid-back areas features scrummy fabrics in midnight blue and green velvet hues and butter soft-leather banquettes.
The hotel is centred around a honeyed stone courtyard with a working water feature and pretty white mismatched chairs and plant topped tables. The open space is a little sun trap and can be accessed through the centre of the building via a variety of doors. It can be viewed through the glass front connecting a conservatory/atrium space into the restaurant. The glass portion is seen as you enter the building and gives the old world feel of how the property would have been used as a coaching inn back in its former glory. I envisage this as a place for sipping cold crisp white wines in this calming Provence inspired space.
THE JUNIOR SUITE
Although there are an array of 16 rooms on offer at The Grosvenor Arms, we opted to stay in the Junior Suite or Room. Having such a huge building with such few rooms meant that even the smaller rooms looked rather spacious an ample for a stay of a couple of nights.
The Junior Suite, is located on the second floor, comprising of a sloped roof and a scattering of muted tones of grey and white soft furnishings in the form of throws and cushions. The handmade beds were covered in Egyptian cotton sheets, bed side tables held ipod docking stations as well as large bed side lamps. At the bottom of the bed stood a squishy fabric covered sofa featuring a number of well-co-ordinated cushions. A dressing table stood to the left of the room with a wall mounted flat screen TV above it. The dresser included a Dualit espresso machine and an ample amount of tea and coffee making facilities including local cookies.
Adjacent to the dresser, stands a large armchair, in keeping with the style of the sofa, behind, which double doors open up onto a large terrace balcony with outdoor seating and potted plants. It overlooks the courtyard below, providing the perfect space to relax with a drink in hand in this private little hideaway.
The en-suite bathroom has a large free standing shower unit with a low level WC and a standalone ceramic sink. A wicker basket adorns the corner of the room with plenty of natural light flooding in through the Velux window. The walls are a perfect pairing of cream and green/blue tiles.
The toiletries throughout the hotel and rooms are full size bottles by Bramble, a local company. They are available to purchase from main reception and smell absolutely divine, with the fresh English garden smells of summer and honeysuckle.
We were on a bed and breakfast basis and there was a great variety on offer to kick start your day. There is the Grosvenor Arms’ version of the buffet, which comprises of a selection of fruit, warm croissants and pain au chocolat, (not made in house!) different fresh juices, cereals and yoghurt compots as well as hot drinks. There is also the option of ordering a cooked breakfast, which we opted for also during our stay.
The cooked breakfast I have to add was prepared on request and each ingredient was cooked to perfection. The beans are spiced up barbecued style with local meat, eggs and a bubble and squeak bed housing a juicy grilled tomato half.
The Grosvenor Arms’ menu is created by executive chef, Tom Blake, formerly of River Cottage. The dishes are seasonal, simple and strong flavours and a real advocate for sourcing local. Generally food is sourced within a 15 mile radius of the hotel, so keeping it local is really a priority for this eatery.
Dinner and lunch menus sound delicious and seating is in the same stripped wooden floored dining space with wooden accent around. There is also a private dining space at the end of the restaurant with a book façade and comfy chairs. The other side of the restaurant houses the open oven where you can watch the chef work whilst grabbing a bar stool. Also on display here is the restaurants impressive collection of wines.
A FEW EXTRAS
The Grosvenor Arms, does have a lift however wheelchair access is only in the ground floor restaurant and bar area. Families are absolutely welcome with the option of cots in rooms and also a childrens menu is available in the restaurant. There is no on-sight paring, however the car park is literally a 2 minute walk up the road and permits are provided for free of charge parking.
Shaftesbury is steeped in Saxon history. It was here that King Alfred built his great abbey. The hotel is literally a few steps away from the famous Gold Hill, which looks out over the beautiful Blackmore Vale. The famous Gold Hill, made yet more famous by Ridley Scott’s memorable Hovis commercial, is 100m away with stunning views across Blackmore Vale.
Shaftesbury is a thriving market town with a fascinating history rooted in Saxon times. It has plenty of inns, cafes and restaurants, and there are lots of independent boutiques and shops to explore.
Wander around the museum at the old Saxon hill top fort, the Abbey from King Alfred’s day, and the farmers market.
THE GROSVENOR ARMS IMPRESSIONS
If it’s a home away from a home you’re looking for, a cosy atmosphere, friendly, welcoming staff, pretty touches and good fresh produce, then I’m recommending a relaxing, stay in Shaftesbury at The Grosvenor Arms. Here, time slows down, allowing you longer to enjoy this beautiful inn.
PURE UNADULTERATED PERFECTION FOR
Couples, Hike-lovers, romantic getaways, families, special occasions and foodies.
So who’s up for a stay? Let me know in the comments below…
The Grosvenor Arms
Tel. 01747 850580
Reservations can be made directly via The Grosvenor Arms website
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