Thomas Hardy, Enid Blyton, Ian McEwan, John Meade Faulkner, Jane Austen, John Fowles: Dorset has more than its fair share of bookish connections, so it’s no wonder that several book festivals have grown up around this literary heritage.

Here, the Good Hotel Guide has paired some of its favourite hotels in Dorset with the area’s most famous writers and literary festivals, so bookworms can leaf through the best the county has to offer.

Flick back through childhood tales of smugglers at Moonfleet Manor, Fleet

Is there a more perfect literature-hotel union than Moonfleet Manor? It’s a family-friendly hotel in the village of Fleet, immortalised in Moonfleet, John Meade Faulkner’s 1898 tale of smuggling, shipwreck and treasure. Set in a Georgian manor house on Dorset’s dramatic coast, this relaxed hotel is well geared for kids, with trampolines, a skittle alley, table tennis, cinema sessions, indoor pools, a mini-beast hunt through the grounds and a Sunday-morning breakfast club that will have grateful parents hitting snooze. Fans of Ian McEwan might want to make a trip to nearby Chesil Beach too.

Walk along the Cobb with Jane Austen, from Dorset House, Lyme Regis

Dorset House in an eye-catchingly refurbished Regency house is just a short walk from the historic Cobb, the location of a pivotal scene in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, said to be the most auto-biographical of the writer’s works. Austen would likely have appreciated the views from Dorset House’s sash windows – ask for a bedroom that looks along the coast – as well as the complimentary hot drinks, an aperitif from the well-stocked honesty bar, and the fire-warmed snug filled with newspapers and magazines. John Fowles’ classic novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman was also set in Lyme Regis.

Attend Bridport Literary Festival from The Seaside Boarding House, Burton Bradstock

A laid-back but sophisticated restaurant-with-rooms, The Seaside Boarding House is ideally located for those who want to flit between Bridport Literary Festival (4-11 November 2018) and views along the Jurassic Coast. The elegant, unfussy bedrooms with books, a Roberts radio and a comfortable bed (and a TV only on request) are perfect for retreating to with a book – perhaps The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes or something by Prue Leith, Bryony Gordon, Tim Dee, Simon Worrall or Tim Pears, all of who are appearing at the festival. Take a break from the pages to dine on modern dishes rich in West Country produce in the sea-facing dining room – perhaps home-cured beef fillet, celeriac remoulade or hake fillet, smoked mussels, rainbow chard – and follow the path to the beach.

Roll out of bed straight into the Sherborne Literary Festival, from The Eastbury, Sherborne

Sherborne Literary Festival (10-14 October 2018) is celebrating two anniversaries with strong local connections in 2018: 40 years since the publication of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and 400 years since the death of Sir Walter Raleigh. The programme is packed with writing clinics, behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the original radio cast of Hitchhiker’s, talks by best-selling authors such as Gill Sims and Max Hastings, and themed walks.


When you need a break, retreat to The Eastbury Hotel, a little oasis in Sherborne with a walled garden, characterful Georgian features and an acclaimed restaurant. The Eastbury is one of the festival venues so you won’t have far to go to attend some events.

Immerse yourself in Hardy Country and Dorchester Literary Festival, at Yalbury Cottage, Lower Bockhampton

Where could be a better place to stay for Dorchester Literature Festival (17-21 October 2018) than Yalbury Cottage, a small hotel in an 18th-century shepherd’s home deep in Thomas Hardy country? Beneath Yalbury Cottage’s thatched roof, guests will find charming staff and bedrooms with a king-size bed and home-made rosemary-lemon biscuits. The hotel is located between Hardy’s Cottage (a 20-minute walk away) and Dorchester, so you could visit Thomas Hardy’s birthplace before lunch, then head to the festival to see popular authors such as Joanna Trollope, Julian Fellowes, Vince Cable, Orla Kiely, Judy Murray, Jeremy Vine and Jon Snow. Hardy fans won’t want to miss the festival’s guided walk around Hardy’s Dorchester. Dine on inventive and consistently outstanding meals back at Yalbury Cottage.

Follow the Famous Five to The Pig on the Beach, Studland

A rambling manor house overlooking Studland Bay, rows of wellies waiting for adventures and a walled kitchen garden stocked with lashings and lashings of goodies - the Famous Five would adore The Pig on the Beach!  It's easy to imagine Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog roaming across the lawns, past the pigs and shepherd huts.  After all, the Isle of Purbeck provided Enid Blyton with plenty of inspiration for the Famous Five's adventures; Blyton is believed to have based Kirrin Castle on nearby Corfe Castle (less than 15 mins by car from The Pig), Whispering Island on Brownsea Island, and Mystery Moor on Stoborough Heath.  Follow the Enid Blyton trail, then feast on the Pig's famous 25-mile menu.

Related

Moonfleet Manor Hotel
Hotel
Moonfleet Manor Hotel

Moonfleet is a great big, friendly Georgian Manor House, built a couple of hundred years ago for Maximillion Mohune (the Mohunes of Fleet became Moonfleet).

Dorset House
Guest House
Dorset House

Awarded Gold for Bed and Breakfast of the year 2017 by Dorset Tourism Awards, Dorset House in Lyme Regis is a beautifully renovated Regency villa combining the style and drama of period features with the comfort and contemporary feel of modern décor and fittings. Our focus at Dorset House is on ensuring you’re able to relax as soon as you walk through our doors.

The Seaside Boarding House
Boutique Hotel
The Seaside Boarding House

Set on the cliffs overlooking the majestic sweep of Dorset's Chesil Beach and Lyme Bay, The Seaside Boarding House opened its doors in 2015. Elegant yet informal, The Seaside Boarding House comprises a classic restaurant, a proper cocktail bar offering grown up shaken, mixed and muddled drinks and luxurious bedrooms each with a view of the sea.

The Eastbury Hotel
Hotel
The Eastbury Hotel

A beautiful country house hotel with lovely gardens and a 2 AA Rosette Restaurant set in the heart of the lively historic town of Sherborne, Dorset

Bridport Literary Festival 2018
Festival
Bridport literary festival

The dates for your diary are: Sunday 4th to Sunday 11th November 2018. The 14th Bridport Literary Festival welcomes all those who read books and love literature.

Dorchester Literary Festival
Festival
Dorchester Literary Festival

This year's Dorchester Literary Festival promises another fascinating line-up. Over the five days there will be more than thirty speakers including Vince Cable, Joanna Trollope, Orla Kiely, Jeremy Vine, Lynne Truss, Judy Murray, James Le Fanu and Mark Austin.

Sherborne Literary Festival
Festival
Sherborne Literary Festival

Sherborne's literary festival with authors of national standing, proven authors who have established followings and cutting edge writers who are at the forefront of creative thinking.

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