The Grosvenor Arms in Shaftesbury: Restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 11:47 27 June 2017 | UPDATED: 11:48 27 June 2017

The club style bar area

The club style bar area

Robin Goodlad

An elegant makeover, great location and a locally sourced seasonal menu are a winning combination at The Grosvenor Arms in Shaftesbury, says Helen Stiles

Our Medieval ancestors knew a thing or two about location. If you’re going to set up somewhere special for visitors to stay then make sure it’s slap bang in the middle of the town. There has been an inn on the site of The Grosvenor Arms since Medieval times; the Grade II listed timber framed building with Georgian frontage was originally a coaching inn, one of 11 situated in this historic hilltop town. It’s a minutes walk from Gold Hill, Shaftesbury’s famously steep cobbled hill, while the remains of Shaftesbury Abbey, with adjacent breathtaking views over the surrounding countryside, are a casual stroll around the corner.

Taken over at the end of last year by The Stay Original Company, The Grosvenor Arms has been beautifully refurbished. The bar area has been extended, and throughout the soft lighting, earthy toned soft furnishings and interesting textured art pieces give it a laid back upmarket vibe. As I checked in it was evident that this is a popular spot, and it had a pleasant buzzy atmosphere.

There are 16 boutique-style bedrooms and I was in Room 9 - a Junior Suite which featured a freestanding roll top bath on a dais in the corner. The spacious room opened onto a large private terrace from where I could hear the gentle tinkling of the fountain in the enclosed courtyard below.

Interior designer Ali Guttridge, responsible for the elegant décor throughout the building, used a muted warm beige palette with pops of earthy tones of ochre and terracotta in the bedroom. I could feel myself relaxing as I stepped inside.

The evening started with cocktails in the club style bar area with my friend Anja, highly recommend is the Grosvenor Garden a summery cucumber and gin combo. We followed through with dinner. Executive chef Tom Blake, formerly of River Cottage, has devised the menus so there is special emphasis on local, wild and organic seasonal produce. Provenance is celebrated on all the menus, from the home cured bacon at breakfast to the freshly made wood fired pizzas using flour milled at Stoate & Sons.

My starter of smoked pork scrumpets with celeriac remoulade and Dorset watercress salad featured Old Spot pork from Orchard Farm in Wedmore. The smoky richness of the delicious meaty bonbons bought out my inner Oliver Twist: “Please sir can I have some more!”

Anja declared the duck, pork and pistachio terrine packed with flavour, and perfectly paired with pear salad and toasted Timbrell’s sourdough. For our mains Anja opted for whole Lyme Bay plaice – I was impressed to see whole fish on the menu - served with a piquant homemade tartare sauce. I plumped for a rare rump steak with a velvety Dorset Blue Vinny sauce – all perfectly seasoned and cooked. The hand cut chips - dark golden on the outside and fluffy as a cloud inside – resulted in top marks all round!

Dessert, after a considerable pause, was a feather-light homemade bread and butter pudding with rum-soaked cherries for me, and the signature Grosvenor Ice Cream Sundae for Anja. This glass of wicked indulgence featured homemade honeycomb, vanilla ice cream and chocolate brownie all drizzled with toffee sauce, a delicious final flourish to end our meal.

After a lovely deep bubble bath, I happily retired to my incredibly comfortable bed, lulled to sleep by the sound of an owl hooting across the Blackmore Vale.


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