With one of Dorset’s iconic attractions – the magnificent limestone arch of Durdle Door – just a stroll away, the Castle Inn is perfectly located for walkers in the peaceful Dorset village of West Lulworth.
The thatched-roofed, whitewashed hostelry is easy to spot as you enter the village, passing the Army training base at Lulworth Ranges. It’s set back from the main lane, with a battered old Volkswagen Beetle and a mint-condition Volkswagen Karmann Ghia sports car usually parked outside.
These are the pride and joy of the manager, David Hargreaves-Putt, who shipped them over from Canada after running a restaurant there.
Hot spot: The outdoor seating is a hit with customers in the summer
Inside is a low-ceilinged bar serving cask ales and a decent range of wines. This is a convivial drinking hole serving pub staples. Expect a throng at the bar, yet quick service. During warmer months, a kiosk in the back garden serves beers and 50 types of gin.
There are also a dozen snazzy, recently revamped rooms with wi-fi. Butcombe Brewery bought the pub – parts date from the 16th Century – just over a year ago and has smartened up the interiors with Farrow & Ball smoky-blue walls, reclaimed wood fittings, designer lamps and neat ultramodern little bathrooms.
‘Well behaved’ dogs are allowed in six of them. So the Castle is suited to dog-walkers as well as hikers and seaside strollers – a great spot to recuperate after a stomp along Dorset’s Jurassic Coast and relax with a drink in the pretty terraced garden.
The USP: It’s away from the crowds at Lulworth Cove, yet close enough to the South West Coast Path and nearby beaches to enjoy the fabulous setting. On nights when military manoeuvres take place at Lulworth Ranges, you can sometimes see the flash of tank muzzles and hear the distant thud of explosions – quite eerie.
Shabby chic: One of the recently revamped rooms at The Castle Inn in Dorset
The rooms: Comfortable and modern, with low ceilings and the odd exposed beam. Bigger rooms for families come with sofa-beds. Little touches include fresh shortbread, Dorset teas, Bramley toiletries and headboards decorated with peacocks.
The food: Fish and chips and shepherd’s pie are staples on a menu filled with locally sourced produce. My starter – ham hock, hot smoked trout and salt-and-pepper squid – was a winner. Three courses from £25.
The Castle Inn, West Lulworth, Dorset. Double rooms B&B from £109. Visit castleinn-lulworth.co.uk for more information.