My two kids and their dad are somewhere in the middle of Germany in a pokey campervan. I, on the other hand, have just checked into The Bull Hotel, one of the lovliest hotels I've stayed in for many a long year. This, my friends, is most definitely the upside of martial seperation.
I'm in Bridport, dorset, for a wekkend escape with my brother Rhidian. For those who don’t know it, Bridport is a laidback, arty little town, just up from West Bay – recently famed as the setting for ITV’s Broadchurch. I could imagine coming here with the kids to do the seaside things, but we'd be in a tent in some field, whereas my brother and I are staying in a sumptuous twin-bedded room- it actually had two proper double beds a good distance apart and all the usual boutiquey trimmings, rounded off
with witty boho décor. One wall is clad with flamingo-print wallpaper, another is adorned with an enormous black oriental fan.
The tone throughout the hotel is one of understated but slightly quirky luxury. It’s the perfect place to play at being arch and
flamboyant for a couple of days. Having put on our glad-rags, we kick off Friday evening in the style we mean to continue throughout the weekend: Kir Royales outside in the courtyard. Drinks are followed by dinner in the restaurant, where the tables – like the beds in our room – are not too close together, and the waiting staff are attentive but not too in-your-face
Upstairs The Venner Bar is open to the public as well as the hotel’s guests, but it still feels like a hidden treasure. This is anything but an ordinary cocktail bar. A long-horned skull hangs over the room – whether it’s a bull or a stag, I’m not sure, but it lends a Pagan ambience to the place. Bottles of enticingly coloured liquid are proudly displayed like works of art. Bar manager Lloyd fixes our sloe gin fizzes in antique glasses, which he has carefully sourced and collected. The gin comes with peach bitters, egg white, lime juice and sugar syrup. It is the most delicious cocktail I’ve ever drunk.
Later we drive down to West Bay, with its towering cliffs that look as if they’re made entirely from sand and could crumble at any moment, and take the cliff path over to Burton Bradstock (the kind of walk my children would never tolerate). Descending from our walk, we join the heaving throng at the Hive Beach Café, where we attack a couple of enormous West Bay crabs with frightening tools – a task requiring effort and concentration. After our coastal walk and the sea air,we feel we’ve been quite healthy enough, and get back to the serious business of eating and drinking in copious quantities. But really we’re both desperate to head back to the hotel for a second night in the Venner Bar. It’s all we can do to stop ourselves from breaking into a run in our haste to get up on those bar stools again and order the first two sloe gin fizzes – oh yes, it’s yet another round of carefully concocted and quietly exquisite decadence –the perfect ending to our Bridport escape.
The seaside town has lots to offer for adults looking to getaway without travelling too great a distance. With bars, restaurants and plenty of walking to be down you'll feel refreshed and indulged.
Serious cocktail making has made it's way to Dorset, surely to be the highlight of any trip The Venner Bar shakes and stirres with the best of them. It's the perfect way to spend an evening away from the children and the hustle and bustle of family life. Relaxed but not sleepy The Venner Bar will serve as a haven of cool for your time away.
Later we drive down to West Bay, with its towering cliffs that look as if they’re made entirely from sand and could crumble at any moment, and take the cliff path over to Burton Bradstock (the kind of walk my children would never tolerate). Descending from our walk, we join the heaving throng at the Hive Beach Café, where we attack a couple of enormous West Bay crabs with frightening tools – a task requiring effort and concentration.
How to get there: Driving is the primary means of transport to the town though for those wanting to put their feet up and relax the trains from London run to Dorchester South. London Waterloo to Bridport South 2hrs45mins from £57.90. Book at thetrainline.com
Where to eat?
The Hive Beach Café (01308 897070)
The Stable (01305 789 389)
The Bull Hotel is the perfect getaway, it's grown-up atmosphere will seem like a real luxury. The hotel blends cool contemporary decor with old fashioned hospitality. It's rustic, charming but also lively- it's bar serves cocktails until the early hours that follow a seculded dinner in the resturant downstairs. A stones throw from both West Bay and Lyme Regis The Bull serves as a base to kick off your shoes after a day spent exploring Dorset.
Price: Doubles from £85