With a World Heritage Coastline, expansive sandy beaches and superlative British seafood, Dorset is an unmissable destination for any lover of the Great Outdoors. Designers Flora Soames, who lives in Dorset, and Fred Rigby, who grew up there and returns regularly, share insider's tips for a restorative weekend in the rolling English countryside.
Where to Stay
Smedmore House: One of Dorset's finest Georgian Manor Houses, Smedmore House has eclectic, magazine-worthy interiors and is a short walk from the beach at Kimmeridge Bay. It can be booked for short or long breaks.
The Seaside Boarding House: A charming, cosy hotel with elegant rooms and superb sea views, The Seaside Boarding House is a home away from home on the Jurassic Coast.
The Pig on the Beach: In a picturesque hamlet overlooking Studland Bay, Dorset's Pig hotel - one of eight across England - shares the relaxed, country house feel of its siblings, with an unbeatable location.
Where to Shop
Niwaki, Semley: 'I love the Niwaki homewares shop in Semley. They have an incredible selection of Japanese garden and kitchen tools.' Fred Rigby
Ludwell Village Store, Ludwell: 'Their homemade marmalade, made by the shopkeeper, Phil, is sublime - only 200 jars are made each season so we stock up for the year. Their range of diverse ingredients is second to none.' Flora Soames
Famous Hedgehog Bakery, Wimborne: 'An excellent bakery and breadmakers in a lovely renovated farmhouse in Long Crichel. They also run bread-making courses.' FS
Art & Antiques, Sherborne: 'I am not a great ‘ordinary’ shopper, but perusing for antiques is my real weakness. In Sherborne, Patrick Macintosh has wonderful Arts and Crafts, and earlier, pieces, while Sherborne is a charming town with good antique shops, restorers and an awe-inspiring Abbey. FS
Blackshed Flowers, near Sherborne: 'Great for cut flowers when you have pillaged your own borders.' FS
Great Dorset Steam Fair: 'Ultimately, my favorite place to shop in Dorset. You’ll find fields of old tools, vintage pieces and all manner of things, it's huge! There are also ploughing competitions, a funfair, steam engines and lots of real ale. It's got to be seen to be believed; it's on the scale of Glastonbury, but a very different vibe.' FR
Where to Eat
The Square and Compass: 'A wonderful, historic smuggler's pub in Worth Matravers, overlooking the Jurassic coast. This would be my Desert Island Discs' luxury item!' FR
The Crab House Cafe, Weymouth: 'A great crab and a hammer' FR
Langhams Winery: 'A beautiful place to visit; with delicious platters and wines.' FR
Compton McCrae, Shaftesbury: 'A fabulous delicatessen with great lunch (and burgers during the summer) and the best cheese for miles, like their La Tur, an Italian mixed milk soft cheese, which, with a drizzle of their White Truffle honey, is hard to beat.' FS
The Seaside Boarding House, Bridport: 'Excellent food and incredible views.' FS
What to See & Do
Tyneham Village: 'A picturesque village, which was commandeered by the army during WWII and never handed back to the villagers at the end of war. Now abandoned, you can walk around the village, tour the different cottages and read their stories. After, walk down the coast path to the beautiful beach.' FR
Winspit Quarry: 'Winspit Quarry, where we shot our latest collection, is a few miles from the Square and Compass and great for a post-lunch walk.' FR
Ringstead Bay: 'A beautiful, secluded bay, particularly lovely for a bracing winter walk followed by a hot chocolate at the on site cafe to warm up afterwards.' FR
Winn Green: 'I love a walk on Winn Green, a stone's throw from my home, or around Fonthill lakes, ending up at the Bird and Carter for a slice of cake and tea.' FS
Flora Soames is a Dorset-based interior and textile designer | florasoames.com
Fred Rigby is a Dorset-born interior and furniture designer | fredrigbystudio.com