a great two hour escape from London

King's Arms Hotel (King's Arms PR)

King’s Arms Hotel (King’s Arms PR)

Get away from busy London city life with a weekend break in Dorchester at the King’s Arms.

The hotel, with hundreds of years of history passing through its doors, is an iconic and treasured remodeled landmark. With its history intertwined with writer Thomas Hardy, and glamorous guests including Queen Victoria, the Beatles, and Hardy himself, a stay here is sure to be memorable.

Where is he?

The hotel is situated within the walls of the Roman town of Dorchester. It is only an 11 minute walk from Dorchester South and Dorchester West station. Located on the north side of town, The King’s Arms is a stone’s throw from Dorset Museum, County Hall, and St. Peter’s Church – three places I recommend popping in to take full advantage of what the town has to offer. Also nearby are the only remaining Roman ruins in the country, which can be visited for free.

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

The bar at the King’s Arms Hotel is the perfect place for 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 wedding that’s unexpected and unforgettable. In 2022, the Grade-II listed building, although originally built around 300 years ago, underwent an upgrade, bringing it into the modern era while retaining its historic charm.

It is decadent yet open and warm. The King’s Army has no lobby, instead, the check-in desk is in a quaint corner next to a spiral staircase just inside the entrance. Behind the desk, trinkets and plants sit on the shelves and a few antique miniature chandeliers catch your eye as they float above the stairs.

To the left, an archway welcomes you into a long cocktail bar where a forest-green silk lampshade with dipped colored edges hangs above the tables. Just past the stairs to the right, the double doors lead guests into the dining area, which is filled with wooden tables and booths surrounded by a mix of club chairs in soft cotton pile and yellow velvet and dining chairs with woven textured fabric.

The ground floor of the hotel includes a restaurant, a cocktail bar, an old smoking room – used as an additional dining space and a delightful spot to enjoy afternoon tea and something sweet – and an outdoor patio garden for rainy days hotter. Guest rooms are located on the upper levels.

The Epic Suite

There are 34 bedrooms, all of which feel right at home. The rooms feature hand-painted wallpaper, layered textiles, and contemporary finishes, such as handcrafted brass wall light fixtures in the shape of figurines, and chest of drawers and bedside tables topped with 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 truly luxurious haven, with wooden floors, high ceilings and large windows. The room is colored blue, gray and green and includes a freestanding, roll top bath that sits against the bay window. A sofa or chairs in bold colors create a space for reading or sitting. One of my favorite touches of the room was a Pure radio playing classical music upon entry, transporting guests to another time.

All rooms are equipped with a smart TV, Pure Radios, hairdryer and Nespresso machine.

Some of the rooms at the King's Arms (The King's Arms PR) include baths and roll top sofas.

Some of the rooms at the King’s Arms (The King’s Arms PR) include baths and roll top sofas.

Food & drink

The hotel’s restaurant serves unseasoned, locally grown and organic food where possible.

The vibe of the restaurant keeps with the aesthetic of the rest of the hotel, modern but cozy. In the dining room, enjoy a multi-course feast of butternut and sprout arancino, grilled bavette steak with green corn pepper sauce, and dauphinoise potatoes paired with a specialty cocktail or glass of wine. A table favorite was the Dorset Bramble gin-based cocktail. Finish the meal with something sweet, like sticky toffee & ginger pudding or chocolate mousse and cinnamon pastry. Or, for something more savory, finish off dinner with the King’s Arms cheese plate – a variety of Dorset cheeses, homemade biscuits and gingerbread.

After dinner, walk across the foyer to the bar and enjoy tea, coffee, or another cocktail. This part of the hotel is a buzzy hotspot for an evening with friends or 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, then move on to the à la carte menu, which includes the King’s Arms take on 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)

It is best for…

A relaxing weekend away 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 dinner credit for an extra £20.

Other rooms are between £105 and £200 per night.


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