Set in an almost perfect valley just outside Blandford in Dorset, Launceston Farm is a spacious farmhouse with six extremely comfortable double and twin rooms set in the heart of a working organic farm.
Sarah, the owner who was born and brought up on the farm, has created just the right atmosphere of stylishly informal: there’s not a whiff of chintz or clutter in sight. Each room has its own sizeable bathroom (some with claw-footed baths and huge showers) and thoughtful extras include home-made biscuits and hot-water bottles.
Unusually for a B&B, the entire Grade II listed Georgian farmhouse has been given over to the business meaning that guests can roam around the house without feeling like they are encroaching on private space. There’s a large sitting room with a fully-licenced honesty bar for pre-supper drinks and – if ordered in advance – a delicious tea will be awaiting your return to the house when the doors open to guests from 4.30pm onwards. In the summer months, the family swimming pool is available for use to guests within certain hours.
Breakfasts are ordered the night before from your own blackboard – check the boxes if you want to have a fresh fruit smoothie, eggs any way you like them, locally sourced bacon and eggs or piping hot porridge. Toast from a bakery in Bridport, apple juice, yoghurt, cereal and stewed apples with cinnamon are waiting on a sideboard while Sarah, a cordon bleu-trained chef, puts together your order.
Everyone sits around a large dining table and is encouraged to talk to each other – not ideal for those who feel Oscar Wilde-ish about breakfast but then part of the point of staying in a bed-and-breakfast is to road test conversational skills. We had a family from Berlin staying at the same time whose elder daughter was in her final year at Bryanston (which is down the road) and the younger daughter was sitting an exam for entry next September.
Not only had the father been sent for three years do to his O and A levels at the school in the early 80s but his father had been a pupil at the school when the family left Germany during the Second World War. Fascinating.
Tarrant Launceston is one of a string of small farming villages that run along the valley which is perfectly positioned to visit the best of Dorset – from the south coast to the Wiltshire Downs and Cranborne Chase; Sarah is all too happy to point you in the right direction and supply you with necessary maps (did you know that you can buy an app from the Ordnance Survey?). At the end of the village is a pub -the Langton Arms – which is an easy 5 minute picturesque walk, while there are other more gastro-pub options a short drive away including the Museum Inn at Farnham.
Sarah’s 32-year-old son, Jimi – a born raconteur – abandoned banking some years ago to take up the reigns of the family farm and, time permitting, will take guests on lively and informative tours of the farm.
Doubles from £90 (01258 830528; www.launcestonfarm.co.uk). They also have a self catering cottage -The Bothy – which comes with a fully plumbed outside bath. A magical place from which to study the starry Dorset skies.
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