Dorset, United Kingdom

Aller Dorset

Price per night from$195.21

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (GBP154.17), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Bold MacDonald

Setting

Faraway farmstead

Sheep? Us? Surely not. But, we confess that one glimpse of Aller Dorset’s cosmopolitan shepherd’s huts, set scenically across an idyllic farm, has us happily flocking to the countryside to bathe alfresco under fairy lights, frolic in a lake, sip martinis made with local spirits by a fire pit, and get snug as can be amid bucolic splendour. And these huts are haute indeed, with Farrow & Ball-ed walls, tableware from Hot Pottery and Bias Editions, chic chintz fabrics, and laden bar carts; while collecting herb clippings from your own trough, carting luggage about by wheelbarrow and collecting firewood for the stove grounds you in farm living. An enchanting town-to-country crossover – by hook or by crook, hoof it down there. 

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A bottle of Amie red wine

Facilities

Photos Aller Dorset facilities

Need to know

Rooms

Four beautifully appointed shepherd’s huts.

Check–Out

10am, but flexible, subject to availability (if there’s another booking on the day the latest you can leave by is 11am). Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Prices

Double rooms from £185.00, including tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates don’t include breakfast (£20 to £25 for a hamper for two), but guests get a trug filled with goodies (sourdough from Dorset bakery the Wobbly Cottage, homemade granola, marshmallows for s’mores, butter, milk) as a welcome.

Also

Rugged countryside and raised, step-access huts make this unsuitable for guests with mobility issues.

At the hotel

Farm, chicken pen, two lakes, tennis court, and free WiFi. With your hut: alfresco bath tub, barbecue fire pit, terrace with lounging and dining space, trough filled with pick-your-own herbs, full kitchen, free welcome basket, Roberts radio (Kittylands and Zoulands have a Bluetooth speaker instead), wood-burning stove, bar cart with local spirits, bathrobes and slippers, black-out blinds, and Bramley bath products.

Our favourite rooms

Owners Cat and Ant wanted these shepherd’s huts to feel more haute than humble, like you’re walking into a luxe hotel suite. It’s immediately obvious that these raised black beauties, with huge windows for maximum view, aren’t your typical rustic dwelling, being built by local carpenters Plankbridge, who’ve also worked with the Pig hotels. Within, Cat’s called on her impressive design nous, fitting mod-floral headboards, blinds and cushions in Soane Britain or Rapture and Wright fabrics; painting each kitchen a cheery hue of Farrow & Ball (choose from grass green, fuchsia, daffodil yellow or powder blue); and stocking them with tableware from Hot Pottery, Bettina Ceramica, Harlie Brown, and Bias Editions (just FYI, these can be purchased from Aller’s online shop). It’s hard to pick a favourite, but Kittylands and Zoulands are on the larger side, and the latter comes with its own lake, too.

Poolside

This isn’t a spot for hardcore wild swimmers, but the estate’s main lake has clear clean waters for refreshing dips.

Spa

There’s no spa, but you can make your shepherd’s hut feel even more sanctum-y by booking a private reflexology session with local practitioner Anabelle Turner.

Packing tips

Travel light – the shepherd’s huts have hooks, under-bed storage, and some other drawers in the larger Kittylands and Zoulands, but you don’t want your style to be literally cramped by overdoing it. Do save space for some wellies though, which will come in handy for bumbling about the fields (each hut has a drying stand), swimwear for splashing about in the lake, and tennis gear (the hotel has some basic kit), if you prefer to use your own.

Also

Holiday romance might extend to the exquisite accessories and tableware in your hut. But, if you do fall in love, there’s an online shop where you can recreate the look at home.

Children

Kittylands and Zoulands are larger and so could sleep a little lamb on request; however, Links and Littledown would have to be booked together to fit a small family. Really though, this is a place for grown-up rustic romance.

Sustainability efforts

Aller is on a farm, so being green is a considerable consideration. The four shepherd’s huts sit lightly on the land, and have been constructed by local company Plankbridge (who also made huts for Smith stablemates, the Pig hotels), using timber, wool insulation and long-lasting cast-iron wheels. All have a variety of recycling bins and little troughs of herbs guests can take clippings from. And, Aller promotes local products and produce wherever they can, whether its local Conker spirits on the bar cart, coffee and tea, Bramley bath products, and elements in the welcome and dining hampers.

Food and Drink

Photos Aller Dorset food and drink

Top Table

Either submerged in the outdoor bath tub under festoon lights, glass in hand, or sat on an Adirondack chair with a marshmallow on a stick and a Conker gin and tonic.

Dress Code

Either bust out your British heritage brands (Barbour wax jackets, Cordings tweeds, Purdey breeks…), or bimble about in whatever you wish – the huts are all privately set.

Hotel restaurant

Maybe an even more welcoming sight than the lacustrine view through your bedroom window come morning, is a hamper heavy with local goodies and homemade treats. There are three to choose from (all with fresh juice): the healthy one (£20 for two), with overnight oats, yoghurt and fresh fruit; the classic English brekkie (£25), with bacon and sausages from Blandford’s Matos Butchers, free-range eggs, tomatoes, and mushrooms; and the ‘special’ (£25), with smoked trout, avocado, lemon, chilli flakes, and eggs. And, co-owner Cat’s delicious granola is gifted to you on arrival. Each hut has a kitchen for flexibility to cook up farm-fresh produce from the area, but if you’re feeling lazy-ish, there’s no shame in ordering the fabulous supper kit to cook yourself on your fire pit. Not least because it includes lobster tails and steaks; burrata with burnt orange, pistachio, mint and pomegranate; sweetcorn with harissa mayonnaise, feta and chilli; jacket potatoes; asparagus; and chocolate mousse for dessert. Or meat boxes can be ordered from the local butcher, and veg from Steeptonbill Farm Shop. And, if you’re at Aller for something special (popping a question, birthday revels, a Tuesday…), there’s a hamper for that too, with Langham’s sparkling wine, chocolate-dipped fruit, sandwiches, crudités and dips – and the owners will set the scene for you in a picturesque picnicking spot.

Hotel bar

Your hut’s honesty bar cart is a wellspring of local spirits (Conker gin, Black Cow vodka), the fridge is filled with mixers and fixings, the kitchen has a shaker and martini glasses, and the welcome booklet has a QR code you can scan for cocktail recipes – all the better for luxuriating in the alfresco bath tub, or cosying up by the fire pit. And, there’s another QR code through which you can summon very local Langham wines or bottles from Amie, and brews from the London Beer Factory. 

Last orders

Whenever you like – keep going if you wish… You're on holiday, after all.

Room service

The owners will haul hampers and ingredient boxes over to your hut, but otherwise you’re in charge of in-room dining.

Location

Photos Aller Dorset location
Address
Aller Dorset
Aller Farm Aller Lane Lower Ansty
Dorchester
DT2 7PX
United Kingdom

Aller Dorset is deeply embedded in the county’s Area of Natural Beauty, on a farm of the same name, due south of the hamlet of Ansty Cross. It’s between Blandford and Dorchester, which is the closest town, a 30-minute drive away.

Planes

Bournemouth is the nearest airport, about an hour’s drive away, with direct links to major European cities. Or, Bristol Airport, a 90-minute drive away has a wider network of international routes. The closest London hub is Heathrow, about two-and-a-half hours by car. The hotel can help to book transfers on request.

Trains

Dorchester South station, served by South Western Railway, is the closest, a 30-minute drive away. The hotel can help arrange transfers from here on request. A direct line runs from London Waterloo.

Automobiles

Aller is set on a farm at the heart of rural Dorset, with only dinky villages for neighbours. It’s idyllic, but public transport is sparse, so you’ll need a car. There are free parking spots for each hut onsite, with chargers for electric vehicles, and – charmingly – wheelbarrows you can use to cart your luggage around (or you can drive up to your hut and deposit bags if you wish).

Worth getting out of bed for

Dance-till-late clubs, edgy ‘hoods, pacy living: this countryside corner of Dorset has none of these, and we love it all the more for it – in fact, nightlife here means badger-watching sessions. The most effort you’ll exert onsite is joining a lakeside class with instructor Aimee from Glow Yoga, brisk dips in the water, or rounds of tennis on the court (available on request, and basic kit can be borrowed). Otherwise it’s cocktails by the fire or bathing out in the green – and maybe making friends with the resident chickens. You’ll need a car to reach the region’s more notable sights, such as the Cerne Abbas Giant, a – ahem – prominent chalk figure in the area; it’s rumoured that romping on his unmentionable will cure fertility, but we can neither confirm nor deny this, nor recommend you try it… If it’s your mental health you’re looking to boost instead, try walking an alpaca, guaranteed to set off your serotonin. Dorchester is a 30-minute drive away for Roman ruins and museums that dig deep into the past; and just outside are the two quaint National Trust properties once owned by Tess of the d'Urbervilles writer Thomas Hardy: thatched Hardy’s Cottage, and turreted Max Gate. Further east, there’s another historic home to tick off your list, mediaeval Athelhampton Manor, whose loveliness is accentuated by manicured gardens and geometric topiary, and Milton Abbey might now be a school, but you can visit its elegantly buttressed church. Ramblers can explore an Iron Age fort and take in views of Blackmore Vale on the Bulbarrow Walk, And the Jurassic Coast is a 40-minute drive away, for admiring the majesty of Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, or hitting the seaside at Weymouth

Local restaurants

If you want to hang up your chef’s hat for the night, there are several farm-supplied eateries close by. A five-minute walk away is the Fox Inn at Ansty, for food we’d hungrily call ‘grub’: Welsh rarebit made with Dorset smoked cheddar, comforting cassoulet, catch of the day in vermouth cream. Also welcoming, quintessentially British and requiring a large appetite is the New Inn near Cerne Abbas. Dunk tomato chutney-spread bread into Somerset camembert, carve away at a 28-day-aged Fossil Farm steak, and wash down mille-crêpes and cremeux with sweet ‘sticky wines’. And the thatched-outside, beamed-inside, 16th-century pub Brace of Pheasants has bubbling dishes of creamy mushrooms, juicy venison burgers and wedges of treacle tart. Further afield, in Tisbury, Pythouse Kitchen Garden is a cottagecore dream of barn-wood, furry throws, flagstone flooring and just-picked botanics. And the seasonal menus, focussing on fire cooking, are equally delightful; crispy lamb comes with crab-apple ketchup, truffled potato fritters ooze with Ogleshield cheese, and chalkstream trout is punched up with pickled rhubarb. Smith stablemate the Pig on the Beach is an hour’s drive away in Studland, but it’s worth the journey for their menu, which hasn’t travelled very far at all (within a 25-mile radius, but most from the hotel’s own plot). By land and sea, it’s all brilliant, from the homemade fish fingers to snack on, pigeon breast with preserved redcurrants, and the raspberry-jam sponge, via the hake with ‘nduja and kaffir lime and barbecue pork-belly bites.

Local cafés

For some of the UK’s best seafood, served scrumptiously, seek out cafés along the coast. In Burton Bradstock, Hive Beach Café has crab bubble and squeak for breakfast and lobster with king prawns for lunch. And overlooking Chesil Beach near Weymouth, the Crab House Café offers whole roasted brill lacquered with lemon-and-chive, hake fillet with goat’s cheese pesto, and sea bass with citrus fruit and coriander butter. And, there’s a dedicated oyster menu too. 

Local bars

For swift pints, prop up the bar at your new local, the Fox Inn. For moreish wines, take a tour and tasting at the Langham Wine Estate. There are several hues to choose from but their sparkling bottles are among the best.

Reviews

Photos Aller Dorset reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this flock of urbane shepherd’s huts on a farm in the leafy South West and unpacked their clippings of herbs and bottle of Conker gin, a full account of their British country romp will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Aller Dorset…

You might be staying in a shepherd’s hut at Aller Dorset, but you’ll not need to count sheep – beds are cloud-soft and dressed in Egyptian cotton and windows are fitted with black-out blinds which ascend to reveal glorious greenery and the farm estate’s sparkling lake. But largely, it’s the huge lungfuls of fresh air you’ll get while playing tennis, yoga-contorting by the water, rambling along the Jurassic Coast and frolicking at the seaside, that’ll make you slumber so soundly. Or maybe it’ll be hopping from cute village pub to cosy country inn sampling the local brews and Langham wines (also available to order to your hut); filling up on fire-pit-cooked dinners of burrata, steak and lobster, and toasted marshmallows; or a result of the soothed state a cocktail in the alfresco fairy-lit bath tub will put you in. Contentment comes in chic packages here, specifically four black-painted shepherd’s huts, each with a colourful full kitchen, vibrant florals, barn-wood accents and very covetable homewares (which you can purchase) courtesy of co-owner Cat’s discerning taste. Hide away in them you absolutely can: from the moment you wheelbarrow your luggage across the field to your den, you’re left in peace with a trug full of welcome goodies, stocked bar cart (and cocktail-making gear), hefty hampers (delivered on request), and even a little herb trough to pick from. Laidback, intimate and cool, this is a stay that’s all peace, no fleecing.  

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Price per night from $195.21