Hotel Highlights

  • It’s a beautiful area, with lots to do nearby
  • This hotel is a cosy, relaxing retreat
  • A stay here is a great-value choice

Overview

Forget happy hour, it’s happy days at The Beckford Arms, with open fires, local ales, cosy sofas galore, sociable Sunday film nights and gastropubby restaurant. There are just eight rooms, kitted out with solid, traditional materials such as stone, wood and sisal. Hand-picked wild flowers and woven wool blankets add splashes of colour. A fire tore through the building in 2010, forcing the hotel to shut down. Proving its indomitable spirit, it’s back now, and better than ever.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking The Beckford Arms with us:

Home-made Beckford crumpets and a pot of tea on arrival

Facilities

View Gallery
The Beckford Arms Hotel - Wiltshire - United Kingdom

Need To Know

Rooms

Eight rooms.

Check–out

11am. Check-in from 3pm (flexible, depending on availability).

Rates

Double rooms from $132.88 (£79), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates usually include breakfast.

Also

Book a massage or personal training session with the hotel’s in-house therapist Angela Parsons – great value at £30–£45 for treatments lasting an hour or longer.

At the hotel

Gardens, private dining room, petanque piste, library including DVDs, and free WiFi. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD/CD player, iPod dock and the hotel’s home-made Bramley toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

Room 1, nestled into the corner of the building above the sitting room, is one of the larger rooms, with both bath and shower. Room 5 is a cosy suntrap, with elegant mirrored bedside tables and a small stone fireplace. Note to big packers: the Beckford's rooms don't have wardrobes, just wall pegs and hangers.

Also

If you want your dog to join you, book Room 6.

Children

Little Smiths are more than welcome, with cots provided free for babies, extra beds £25 a night (for under-12s, otherwise £60 a night),, and babysitting with a local nanny available (book two days in advance). The restaurant has a menu tailored to tots.

Read more

Pet‐friendly

Dogs are allowed, in Room 6 only; please request this room when booking. For £10 a night, you get a bed for Fido, plus a bowl and biscuits.

Food & Drink

View Gallery
The Beckford Arms Hotel - Wiltshire - United Kingdom

Hotel Restaurant

Pravin Nayar has returned to the Beckford with a menu of old favourites. Making headlines in its homemade fare is the local produce, pork pies and zingy piccalilli, the house burger, Brixham fish 'n' chips, and suckling pig on the open fire. Fans of all-day brunching can pounce on eggs Benedict, waffles and Bloody Marys, and those feeling like a family-style Sunday roast can order a chicken to carve at the table.

Hotel Bar

Loyal locals head here for the ales and bitters, the cosy country pub atmosphere and the relaxed setting – wooden beams, parquet flooring and roaring fire. There is a large oval table by the bay window, perfect for a group of friends, and every Sunday, the bar hosts a cinema night (check the blackboard by the fire to see what’s showing). Look out for the collection of antique silver teapots.

Last orders

Breakfast is served in the conservatory from 8am to 10am (though late-risers can request a brunch-type timing), lunch is 12–3pm, and dinner is dished up between 6pm and 9pm.

Room service

No room service, but you can plunder in-room nibbles such as pork pies and crisps from the bar.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Blend in with the locals by sporting shooting-chic: tweed, wools and russet hues, accessorised with Hunter wellies.

Top table

Choose according to your mood; tables in the pub make for a sociable and relaxed setting, the sitting room is the place for a DVD-dinner, and the conservatory is bright and airy, with its pale wood panelling, gilt-framed mirrors and garden views.

Local Guide

View Gallery
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

Dine at The Bath Arms, a boutique hotel with the Mr & Mrs Smith stamp of approval and a popular restaurant, tricked out with scarlet drapes and chandeliers (+44 (0)1985 844 308). The Compasses Inn is a 14th-century freehouse just a 10-minute drive from the hotel, in Lower Chicksgrove (+44 (0)1722 714 318; www.thecompassesinn.com). The main bar has 11 tables, and there is a small dining room used for private parties. Expect plenty of sturdy beams, wood galore and fresh, seasonal dishes, such as pigeon and puy lentil salad with quail eggs, and wild mushroom, chestnut, butter bean and fennel casserole. At the King John Inn (+44 (0)1725 516207; www.kingjohninn.co.uk) in nearby Tollard Royal, local produce is brought to the fore in dishes such as Pythouse lamb breast and Portland crab on toast. Near Shaftesbury, the Fontmell (+44 (0)1747 811441; www.thefontmell.com) serves traditional fare such as steak and claret pudding and roasted saddle of venison.

Local cafés

Wander around the walled Victorian Pythouse Kitchen Garden (+44 (0)1747 870 444; www.pythouse-farm.co.uk) and stop for lunch at the wonderful café on the verandah. The cream teas are worth piling on the pounds for, but if you’re feeling guilty, forego the five-minute drive for a half-hour walk back to the hotel. Turnbulls café and deli is in the centre of Shaftesbury, at 9 High Street (+44 (0)1747 858 575; www.turnbulls-deli.co.uk). Try their take on tapas – River Exe mussels in local cream and local cider sauce, mini Westcombe cheddar rarebit toasties, Mere trout bruschettas, paté and terrines, and local hams and pies. De-liz café and delicatessen in Tisbury is crammed with enough cakes, chutneys, cheeses and charcuterie to feed an army, and is just a 10-minute walk, or three-minute drive, from the hotel (+44 (0)1747 871 771; www.deliz.co.uk).

+ Enlarge
Tisbury’s walkers’ wonderland

The Beckford Arms

Fonthill Gifford, Tisbury, Tisbury, wiltshire SP3 6PX, United Kingdom

The Beckford Arms in Wiltshire is not far from Tisbury, to the west of Salisbury. Close to the north Dorset border, it’s a short hop off the A303.

Planes

Bournemouth and Bristol are the nearest airports, served by the likes of Ryanair (www.ryanair.com), Flybe (Bristol only, www.flybe.com) and EasyJet (www.easyjet.com). By car, the hotel is an hour from Bournemouth, nearer 80 minutes from Bristol.

Trains

Trains from London Waterloo to Tisbury take around one hour and 45 minutes (www.southwesttrains.co.uk). Tisbury station is a five-minute drive away.

Automobiles

The hotel is a short hop off the A303, and has free parking on site. If you’re arriving by public transport, you may want to hire some wheels, to help you explore the area’s attractions at your leisure. Salisbury is the nearest city, a 30-minute drive away. Tisbury is a 10-minute walk away, if you decide to leave your car at home.

Reviews

View Gallery
The Beckford Arms Hotel - Wiltshire - United Kingdom

Anonymous review

by Rosie Birkett , A lot on her plate

‘Whoa! William Beckford was a rum one!’ says Mr Smith, sprawling out on the soft Welsh wool blanket covering our bed – replete from the roast lunch we’ve just inhaled. Reading aloud from the book of bumf he’s found on our bedside table, he recounts how Beckford – from whom Wiltshire pub takes its name – was an obsessive aesthete who scandalised Victoria...

Read more

The Beckford Arms

Anonymous review by Rosie Birkett, A lot on her plate

‘Whoa! William Beckford was a rum one!’ says Mr Smith, sprawling out on the soft Welsh wool blanket covering our bed – replete from the roast lunch we’ve just inhaled. Reading aloud from the book of bumf he’s found on our bedside table, he recounts how Beckford – from whom Wiltshire pub takes its name – was an obsessive aesthete who scandalised Victorian society with his ‘romantic’ relationship with a 10-year-old viscount.

Funded by his plantation-owner father’s fortune, Beckford (dubbed England’s wealthiest son by Lord Byron), took self-imposed exile, pursuing a life of art and architecture, penning a novel Vathek, and constructing the dizzyingly towering folly, Fonthill Abbey. The gothic revival country house is no more, but its crumbling remains are a short stroll away, and we agree to walk to it tomorrow, if for no other reason than this was where Beckford once ‘bathed in the rain with a sylph-like Albanian footman’, as revealed by a cursory Googling.

This boutique inn’s name, and its proximity to the stunning Fonthill Estate, is as far as its synonymy with Beckford’s archaic strangeness goes – the hotel is about as gothic as a Cath Kidston catalogue. An upscale country pub with rooms, the Beckford Arms is right on the edge of Fonthill Bishop’s acres of farmland, woods and gardens, which when we pass through it, is alive with posturing pheasants and frolicking lambs. The Wiltshire hotel is celebrated for its food, and when we arrive earlier that day the carpark is full with status wagons. This is proper down-from-London country and the place is crawling with glossy dogs and their even better-bred owners, all gathered for the feted Sunday lunch.

Promisingly rich smells of roasting meats fill the air, and despite arriving smack-bang during lunch service, we’re speedily checked in and shown to a table in the grand wooden-floored sitting room, amid rugs, lamps and muted paintwork. We’re seated behind a handsome French couple canoodling on the sofa over the Sunday papers, their toes warmed by the log fire; meanwhile ours are snuffled by the pub’s dog Elsa, who’s particularly taken with my tan-leather brogues. It would seem her masters’ good taste has rubbed off on her.

Swedish chef Chef Pravin Nayar has been with the property since it opened in 2010, and took over as head chef last July when it reopened following a devastating fire. His seasonal menus are bursting with carefully selected local produce, and the food is confidently cooked, refreshingly simple, and pleasingly devoid of the gussied-up flourishes often affected by pubs clawing at that ‘gastro’ prefix. I scan the menu for my usual alarm bells – but there are no ‘deconstructed’ pies or classics ‘with a twist’ here.

Fixated on a blow-out roast lunch, we find that the Swede doesn’t disappoint us, serving up two plates strewn with perfectly pink beef, golden dripping-roasted potatoes, deep, flavourful gravy and Yorkshire puds the size of a baby’s head. It’s a feast fit for a naughty Sunday in the country, and we wash it down with a soft Languedoc cabernet sauvignon. A shared British cheeseboard with the most delicious, crumbly salty-sweet homemade oatcakes propels us into a soporific food coma, and we retire to our chamber for the afternoon, nabbing the Sunday supps from beneath the noses of the now-dozing Frenchies.

Our room is simple and stylish – flooded with natural light, with a view over the garden and a vase of wild flowers on the window ledge. I brew a pot of afternoon tea and tuck into the bar of Dairy Milk. ‘How sweet,’ I say, ‘to give everyone a complimentary tea tray including fresh milk and a chocolate bar.’ Too many hotels have phased that out. To me, being able to make a replenishing cuppa after a food- and wine-induced nap is much nicer than a room-service delivery.

Added extras are partly what give the Beckford Arms a boutique edge. Touches abound like a cute little washbag, pitched perfectly at the well-heeled traveller, stuffed with things I usually forget – razor, toothbrush, cotton buds and possibly this cold-tootsied reviewer’s favourite: a hot water bottle clad in its own Aran knit cover. Even the inanimate objects here are well turned out. When owner Charlie Luxton tells me the fragrant Bramley toiletries are made by his wife, the founder of cult smellies company Cowshed, it all makes perfect sense.

In the candle-lit dining room that night, still full from lunch, I only manage a starter plate. But this is an appetiser that dreams are made of. A delicate, perfectly flaking piece of seared mackerel atop a salad of pickled cucumber, with dill mayonnaise speckled with capers and finely chopped shallots. Mr Smith tucks into a salad of Jerusalem artichokes with heirloom beets and some silky soft mozzarella from Laverstoke farm, marvelling at the incredible flavour of the local and seasonal ingredients.

Cosying up on our well-plumped bed upstairs, with the rest of our Chilean pinot noir, we are overcome by that special sleepy mood that only good food, wine and expertly executed comfort can bring. Tomorrow we’ll explore the old stomping ground of that rogue Beckford, but for now, we’ll enjoy the crisp Egyptian cotton sheets with our newfound bedfellow, the well-dressed hot water bottle. Something tells me we’ll be back at the Beckford Arms.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in The Beckford Arms's Guestbook below.

 

BlackSmith

Stayed on 5 Feb 2014

We loved

I enjoyed the warm welcome from the staff, warm fire in the sitting room and excellent food.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 6 Nov 2013

We loved

This is a lovely bar and restaurant with excellent choice of good ales and food. Staff are very friendly and welcoming and there's a great country-pub atmosphere. I liked the super bathroom with extra-large shower and good, comfortable bed.

Don’t expect

The room was rather small. A nice touch was that fresh milk was left outside the door in the morning but we had no way of knowing this and had our early morning tea without milk! Maybe let customers know it will be outside.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 9 Jun 2013

We loved

The Beckford Arms was a great place to stay. The staff were very welcoming, friendly and attentive. There was a great vibe in the pub and the room and food was excellent! We look forward to visiting again.

Don’t expect

Nothing!

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on 1 Jun 2012


An idyllic village setting for a Jubilee stop over where they were beginning to deck out the rambling garden with cheerful bunting and family games. You can see why this is enjoyed by locals as well as delighted visitors, all met with a friendly welcome, amazing supper and consistently helpful and convivial waiting staff bedecked in their preppy shades of pastel blue shirts. If, as we found, the only room available is the small double, don't be put off as it is still wonderfully comfy and cosy with charming touches abound including the muted lavender window boxes and a lovely big bathroom. Unfortunately it was not long before we had to be back on the winding Wiltshire roads but not before taking in the ethereal lake, a short wander from the Beckford. Glinting swirling shades of green and aqua play on the surrounding foliage it wouldn't be out of place in Tolkien's Lothlorien and whilst the owner is very knowledgeable on the more geographical reasons for this murky palette, I like to think it houses the same imps and sprites that must leave the Cadbury treats on your bedroom tea tray!

Rating: 8/10 stars