Sometimes you’re completely spoilt for choice. Dorset’s 86-mile stretch of the Jurassic Coast is one of the country’s most stunning destinations — a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s home to prehistoric fossils, secluded beaches, coastal walks and spectacular scenery.
Our base near Warmwell is less than half an hour not just from the natural limestone arch Durdle Door, 11th-century Corfe Castle and 17th-century Lulworth Castle, but also Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre — come on, how can you and the kids resist monkeys? Not to mention Poole, Dorchester and Weymouth.
Set in hundreds of acres of land, formerly the site of a quarry and RAF Warmwell, Silverlake estate offers a range of sleek, sustainable properties in natural surroundings. Still in its infancy, with around 30 houses complete, the sister to the Cotswolds’ Lower Mill Estate will continue to grow as development takes shape — hundreds more properties are planned as part of its regeneration.
Our three-bed house, Tally Ho (continuing the RAF theme), in Beaumont Village embodies the Silverlake ethos — modern, slickly designed with features such as a wood burner, designer chairs, a well-equipped modern kitchen, two double rooms (one en suite) and a bunk room. There’s also a barbecue and decking outside.
We treat ourselves to a private chef one evening, which is surprisingly affordable and about as close to a restaurant experience at home as you’ll get. Local company Manna Kitchen sources local produce, including wine, and recreate a restaurant experience at home — safe to say, the hot-smoked salmon, salt-crusted lamb rump, Bakewell tart and Dorset cheese were delectable. And the kids didn’t miss out with chocolate brownies and ice cream.
We continued the indulgence the next day at the Hurricane Spa, which is situated by the heated outdoor pool in a glorious setting — by the beach no less, at the side of the lake. The signature Caudalie treatment ‘recreates the ritualistic wine making process’; a stretch perhaps, but it was a pretty sublime 55 minutes.
And, of course, once you’ve been pampered you should probably get outside again. The activities on site offer plenty of choice, especially for kids, with bike and boat hire, nature walks, a play area in woods with a zip-wire and tennis court.
The local attractions are evidently the main draw, but when you’ve got all of this on your doorstep it makes it that bit more difficult to leave.
Tally Ho is available from £563 for a three-night stay.