The top Dorset pubs to refuel in

Food and Drink

Posted by Ed Roberts on 5th March 2020

When on holiday in a place as lovely as Dorset, a pitstop at a pub is always a must during a day trip. Not all pubs have been created equal though; just like friends, there are different pubs for different occasions or moods.

Dorset has a wonderful blend of pubs for all occasions and tastes, as no pub is all things to all people. Some pubs are geared towards the lunchtime crowd and aim to impress with their lunch menu, then there are family-friendly pubs that welcome all, even catering for your kids with special menus. Some come alive after dark and they are great places to enjoy a few pints with friends, whilst others take their selection of ales very seriously and are the perfect place to read your book with your trusty dog. The location also plays a part in a pub’s story. A countryside pub can spell success if it’s located close to a beauty spot or on a walking trail. Thirsty walkers love a cool drink at the end of a hike on a summer’s day.  This is why we’ve set about the enviable task of compiling a guide to Dorset’s pubs according to their features.  Each of them may cover multiple bases but we’ve singled them out for a particular feature that makes them worth a stop.

If you are planning a holiday, book a stay at one of our self-catering Dorset cottages. We have accommodation all across this wonderful county, including cosy romantic country escapes for two, dog-friendly family home-from-homes, large farmhouses and converted barns for extended groups of friends, and sea view apartments. Whether you would like a long break or just a long weekend away, Dorset is a great destination, and what better way to experience country life than down at the local pub? 

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  1. The best gastropubs in Dorset
  2. The best pubs for Sunday lunch and carvery in Dorset
  3. Pubs with the best beer gardens in Dorset
  4. Best country pubs in Dorset
  5. Best dog-friendly pubs in Dorset
  6. Best family-friendly pubs in Dorset

The best gastropubs in Dorset

The Bull Hotel

Location: Bridport, DT6 3LE

Food price range: £12 - £35

For those of you looking for a touch of class to your pub outing, this gastropub in the heart of coastal Bridport is well-worth your time. Tasteful, modern décor and contemporary artworks adorning the walls make for a brilliant informal dining choice. Enjoy a pint of London Pride or a glass of wine at the bar. The menu is exciting and varied and includes local favourites like Dorset lamb and Portland crab. On sunny days, you can enjoy your lunch or dinner in the pub’s courtyard garden.

Stay at: Bell Cottage | Sleeps: 2 plus 2 dog

The Acorn Inn 

Location: Evershot, DT2 0JW

Food price range: £10 - £20

This village gastropub is firmly situated at the heart of Thomas Hardy country. With cosy firesides and good potential for some amazing pub food, The Acorn Inn is a fine bet for a satisfying feed. Mingle with the locals and enjoy a pint of Otter Ale in the long flagstone bar. In the dining room, try out some traditional Dorset fare (menus are dominated by locally sourced ingredients). Our recommendation would be the Acorn Inn’s signature homemade burger, followed by sticky toffee pudding. Children have their own menu too, and dogs are also welcome in the main bar! 

Stay at: Higher Burton Farm | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 2 dogs

Best pubs for Sunday lunch and carvery in Dorset

The Chetnole Inn 

Location: Sherborne, DT9 6NU 

Sunday lunch price: £10 approx

For seriously impressive Sunday lunches, head into The Chetnole Inn, close to Sherborne. It’s a good spot after a climb up the hill to see the local chalk man of Cerne Abbas. This dog-friendly pub has a reputation for good food and a friendly crowd of locals. Low ceilings, flagstone floors, and wood burners keep this cosy in the colder months. Sunday lunch is popular so book ahead. Other delicious features on the menu may include the rabbit and pork rillette, or their impressively tasty steak and ale pie.

Stay at: Cuckoo Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog

The Grosvenor Arms 

Location: Shaftesbury, SP7 8JA

Sunday lunch price: £15 approx

For a classy Sunday carvery or lunch outing, The Grosvenor Arms is the place to head to. Surrounded by woodlands and sweeping hills of the Cranborne Chase AONB, Shaftesbury is an ancient Dorset town with connections to King Canute and King Alfred. For some of us, the pinnacle of any Sunday is an almighty Sunday roast and we would heartily recommend this pub’s considerable contribution to the oeuvre.  

Stay at: Rose Cottage at East Hill | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 2 dogs

Pubs with the best beer gardens in Dorset

Square & Compass 

Location: Worth Matravers, BH19 3LF

Food price range: £7 - £12

Summer was designed especially with pubs like the Square & Compass in mind. Set high in the hills above Swanage with views down to the sea, the garden out front is a superb spot to enjoy an icy cold lager. With the sun twinkling off the blue sea, it’s unbeatable. Dogs and kids are welcome and there’s a great relaxed vibe to this place. There’s a small shop where you can buy pasties and other baked goods close by as well as a museum on the premises. It’s a uniquely wonderful pub and one of our favourites on the Isle of Purbeck.

Stay at: Egmont View Cottage | Sleeps: 3 guests

Drusilla’s Inn 

Location: Wimborne, BH21 7JH

Food price range: £9 - £15

A good pub garden is a key feature to a pub’s allure, however, Drusilla’s thatched roofs and eyecatching exterior is hard to upstage. It’s a great place for an outdoor pint and a spot of lunch if the mood takes. Enjoy uninterrupted views of the historic Horton Folly Tower and the surrounding Dorset countryside. The good menu offers everything including comfort food, bar snacks and a la carte consisting of local produce. Check out Drusilla’s Inn’s selection of West Country ales and ciders too. 

Stay at: The Old Mill | Sleeps: 8 guests plus 4 dogs

Best country pubs in Dorset

The Countryman

Location: East Knighton, DT2 8LL

Food price range: £10 - £15 main course

A few miles north of Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and the Blue Pool, is this great countryside pub. Just off Wareham Road, it is a great place for a stop-off. This family-run pub welcomes wayfarers and is dog-friendly. The Sunday carvery is a good prospect too, so book ahead if your walking route winds past this friendly outpost. 

Stay at: Cajun Cottage | Sleeps: 5 guest plus 2 dogs

The World’s End 

Location: Almer, DT11 9EW

Food price range: £8 - £10 main course

Just off the A31, a few miles south of Blandford Forum, amid the wide-open, rolling countryside of Dorset, you will find the aptly named The World’s End. You do feel like you’ve made a journey to reach this fine hostelry for a beer or a cool wine. With a charming thatched roof and a pub garden, it’s a great choice for a relaxing beer and a slap-up lunch. 

Stay at: Stour Mill Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 2 dogs

The best dog-friendly pubs in Dorset

The Bankes Arms  


Location: Studland, BH19 3AU

Food price range: £8 - £15 main course

At the eastern tip of the Isle of Purbeck is the tiny village of Studland, which is also home to a lovely beach and huge nature reserve. The Bankes Arms attracts walkers and the patrons are particularly nice to dogs, welcoming them in the bar and the large pub garden. Built from Purbeck stone, you can enjoy a pint as you take in the views across Poole Bay. Specialising in local ales, there’s also a kids’ menu if you plan on stopping in with the family too. The pub is also home to the Isle of Purbeck Brewery and they stock five core brews, as well as plying a trade in new concoctions.

Stay at: Heath Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog

The Scott Arms 

Location: Corfe Castle, BH20 5LH

Food price range: £7 - £15 main course

With fantastic views of the ruins of Corfe Castle from its large pub garden, the Scott Arms is a great dog-friendly pub, where you can enjoy a pint and a very impressive menu that is served at lunch and dinner. Dogs are permitted at the bar with you and it’s a good choice of a pub to unwind after a climb all around the castle ruins. Perhaps take a steam train from Corfe Castle station on down to Swanage after lunch.

Stay at: Farthing Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog

The best family-friendly pubs in Dorset 

The Anchor Inn 

Location: Chideock, DT6 6JU

Food price range: £7 - £13 main course

This could be the ultimate family-friendly pub thanks to its fantastic location at the beach. Just feet away from the front door and you are on the sand. The pub also has a large kids menu too, welcomes dogs and has a range of dishes concocted from local fare. Fish and shellfish landed at the beach are also a centrepiece to the cavalcade of mouth-watering meals on offer. Beers and ales reflect the eternal summer feel of this cosy winner by the sea.

Stay at: Bluebells | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog

St Peter’s Finger

Location: Lychett Minster, BH16 6JE

Food price range: £7 - £15

With a name like St Peter’s Finger, the name alone will make most children laugh, and that’s just the start of the fun that can be had at this pub. There is a great play area and a large garden. Children are also welcome in the bar and dining areas during the day time. With an informal atmosphere, this country-style pub is one of the best family-friendly pubs for you to discover in Dorset. It is dog-friendly too. 

Stay at: Mill Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog

We hope our guide to some of our favourite pubs in Dorset has been inspiring. This compilation is merely a toe in the water as there are many more pubs all across Dorset that are dog-friendly, children-friendly, offer free Wi-Fi and those that blur the lines between fine-dining and gastropub. If you are planning a trip to Dorset, stay at one of our self-catering holiday cottages; we have properties large and small throughout this gorgeous county - many of which have a country pub within short walking distance. Where will you stay?

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Photo credits:

Intro @ cranbornechaseAONB

Scott Arms = @ corfecastletaxis

Bull Hotel = @ ann-dufour

The Acorn = @ nread304

The Chetnole Inn = @ David-hodgkinson

The Grosvenor Arms = @ grosvenorarmsshaftesbury 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.