THE WEEKEND: Getaway from the city by escaping to La Fosse in the idyllic village of Cranborne, which is postcard-perfect: simply strolling about will make you feel like you’re on the set of a period drama. Around a two hour drive from London, Cranborne is a much-loved corner of Dorset that remains unspoiled by tourist hordes.
WHERE? La Fosse is an award-winning restaurant turned boutique B&B on the border of Dorset and Wiltshire. Its cutesy locale attracts avid walkers and cyclists for short breaks. Those who want full countryside immersion but don’t want to go quite so far as Cornwall. I spent my days wandering around the local farms, and taking lengthy drives in the countryside. While lovely hosts Emmanuella and Mark can recommend walks, the fun part for me was getting lost: exploring random twists and turns in fields, as well as hidden country paths, being my best Famous Five self.
THE STAY: Even more charming than the vistas are hosts and owners Emmanuella and Mark, whose passion for the countryside spills from their mouths as abundantly as the wine they – seemingly endlessly – pour into my glass at dinner. Having met in the hospitality game, this couple achieves the perfect balance – it feels like I’m being welcomed into a home but treated like I’m in a boutique hotel.
THE FOOD: As chef-proprietor, Mark learnt his trade with some of Europe’s top chefs, including Raymond Blancs’ Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and Pierre Chevillard at Chewton Glen and the proof really is in the pudding (as well as starter and dessert). I had the most delicious duck I’ve ever tasted, with an incredible richness of flavour, which left me stuffed until morning. Mark is an advocate of sustainably caught seafood and locally sourced produce; food on the menu often travels yards not miles. It might be from Dorset, but the presentation of these ingredients feels more like Mayfair than the quaint English countryside. If three courses aren’t enough for you, the restaurant offers a bespoke 6-course tasting menu. I didn’t get the chance to try it but I have my eyes on it for next time.
ASK ABOUT: There are six rooms made for hunkering down dotted across this delightful country home. The rooms are luxurious, with everything you could possibly need – including a TV, coffee machine, and quality towels and bedding. Everything has a personal touch – even down to the rooms, which don the names of local cheeses (mine was the yummy Gold Hill).
Downstairs the rooms are also quirky and stylish. Whether it’s the wood fireplace, the family heirlooms dotted around, or the vintage stereo playing jazz music in the background. The place is filled with design and detail. “We are truly welcoming people into our home”, Mark explained. His sentiment rang particularly true when after dinner one evening I sat in the lounge with the family dog bouncing around at my feet. There is also an outdoor wooden BBQ house, where guests can wine and dine. It’s a Scandi-style wood cabin which can host about 12 guests, and boasts a fire-pit cooking station at its centre. With the option to grill your own La Fosse meats and dishes, it would make an awesome spot for a birthday trip for a larger family or friendship group.
NEED TO KNOW:
Prices at La Fosse for rooms start at £89. Prices for the whole house takeover start at £743 per night for all six rooms, two nights minimum on weekends. La-fosse.com