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Best family-friendly hotels in Dorset, according to parents

Taking the kids to sunny Dorset? We’ve got you covered with our roundup of the best hotels, apartments and holidays parks for families.

By Poppy O'Neill | Last updated Jul 27, 2022

Durdle door in dorset

Famous for its fossil-studded Jurassic Coast, Dorset sits between Hampshire and Devon and its rolling countryside lends itself to active family breaks. There are more stunning walks, cycle trails and unspoiled beaches than you can shake a stick at.

The county is dotted with National Trust and English Heritage homes to visit, and the sandy beaches of Weymouth and Sandbanks are not to be missed. After a busy day building sandcastles and exploring historic landmarks, a comfortable, child-friendly place to stay is an absolute must. As always, Mumsnetters are on hand to recommend the very best places they’ve stayed with their families in Dorset. 

What are the best family hotels in Dorset?

1. Best overall hotel: Moonfleet Manor, Weymouth

A view of Moonfleet Manor and the beach beyond it

Moonfleet Manor | Check availability

"Moonfleet Manor is very geared up for children, a really lovely place" - recommended by Mumsnet user, TickleMyTitsTilFriday

"I was going to say Moonfleet Manor too. It's lovely and very family friendly without being Butlins" - tried and tested by Mumsnet user, M0therofdragons

Part of the Luxury Family Hotels chain, Moonfleet Manor really stands out for its emphasis on welcoming every member of the family. Six minutes’ walk from the beach, rooms at Moonfleet enjoy views over Chesil Beach and Fleet Lagoon. Situated a few miles from Weymouth, rooms at the hotel are thoughtfully decorated and can sleep up to six in two- or three-bedroom suites, with extra beds available on request. Dogs are welcome in some rooms, and there are two indoor pools, a spa and a children’s playground. The hotel provides a babysitting service on request, so you can enjoy a relaxed evening meal in the award-winning restaurant. 

Nearest train station: Weymouth (6 miles)

2. Best budget hotel: Premier Inn, Dorchester

A blue hotel facade

Premier Inn Dorchester | Check availability

"We've stayed at the Dorchester Premier Inn before when staying down in Dorset to visit the Tank Museum and Monkey World (which are both 20 mins away from the hotel). It's a good budget hotel and is a 5-min walk to a plaza with a cinema and Pizza Express" - recommended by Mumsnet user, MontyBowJangles

For a clean, comfortable room wherever you happen to be, Mumsnetters often turn to Premier Inn. This one can be found right in the heart of the pretty, historic town of Dorchester - just a stone’s throw from the train station and a good choice of restaurants. Family rooms include a double or kingsize bed plus a sofa bed and pull-out bed. There’s lots for families to get up to in the area, with Monkey World nearby and sandy beaches around a 20-minute drive away in Weymouth. If you’re visiting at the end of August, the Great Dorset Steam Fair is a must-see for tractor and train fanatics. 

Nearest train station: Dorchester (0.1 mile)

3. Best coastal hotel: Royal Lion Hotel, Lyme Regis

A pub in Lyme Regis with bunting outside

Royal Lion Hotel | Check availability

"We've used this hotel in Lyme Regis. It's 30 seconds from the beach and on the high street. Family rooms with courtyard if you ask, swimming pool, snooker and table tennis. Really thought it was fab" - recommended by Mumsnet user, eyeoresancerre

Lyme Regis is a charming coastal town famous for its fossils and as the hometown of pioneering palaeontologist, Mary Anning. The Royal Lion Hotel is a cosy pub and restaurant with rooms, just off the promenade. Opt for a family room opening onto the communal suntrap courtyard for a bit of outdoor space during your stay. There’s a pool and a jacuzzi, and dogs are welcome. A great choice for dinosaur fans, be sure to check out the town’s museum, numerous fossil shops and hunt for your own on the beaches around Lyme. 

Nearest train station: Axminster (6 miles)

4. Best country hotel: Castle Inn, West Lulworth

a thatched hotel

The Castle Inn | Check availability

"The Castle Inn in West Lulworth takes children, it was taken over and refurbished last year and is just the other end of the village with free parking as well" - recommended by Mumsnet user, FiveGoMadInDorset 

This 17th-century thatched inn is an ideal base for exploring the picturesque Lulworth area. The stunning Lulworth Cove is a short walk away, as are Stair Hole and Fossil Forest. Rooms are snug but can fit a family of up to four, and dogs are allowed in some of the rooms. There’s a pretty garden for kids to run around in, and you’ll be well-placed for the Tank Museum, Monkey World and Dorset Adventure Park. 

Nearest train station: Wool (4 miles)

5. Best hotel with a swimming pool: Knoll House, Studland

the courtyard of a hotel, with grass and trees

Knoll House | Check availability

"It's got a fab sandy beach (National Trust so clean and with good facilities), within 100m, nine hole pitch and putt golf course (great fun, even if you've never played before), an outdoor pool for the summer, small gym and health spa, and a wonderful adventure playground" - recommended by Mumsnet user, Utka

Located right on the doorstep of Studland Nature Reserve, Knoll House has views across the water to Sandbanks and Brownsea Island. There are outdoor and indoor pools, plus a playground, and dogs are welcome. Family suites are available with two or three bedrooms, and pets are allowed. There’s a great range of activities available to be booked via the hotel, including foraging and sea kayaking. Be sure to catch a ferry over to the beautiful protected nature reserve Brownsea Island and try to catch a glimpse of a red squirrel.  

Nearest train station: Swanage Station (3 miles)

6. Best family-friendly self-catering accommodation: Driftwood Apartments, Bridport

a modern apartment complex on a sunny day

Driftwood Apartments | Check availability

"It looks fab and we're really looking forward to sampling the seafood restaurants (albeit at lunch times with a 4-month-old old baby in tow) and what's best, it's 100m from the beach - perfect for our 3-year-old" - recommended by Mumsnet user, pammo

This two-bedroom, ground-floor apartment comes highly recommended by Mumsnetters. Right on the seafront at West Bay near Bridport, there’s a well-equipped kitchen including a washing machine, plus private parking. Bridport harbour is on the doorstep, with a pier, boats for hire and fossil hunting at West Bay beach. Further afield you’ll find great days out including Dinosaur Land Fossil Museum and UK Llamas.

Nearest train station: Maiden Newton (13 miles)

7. Best for babies and toddlers: Warmwell Holiday Park, near Weymouth

the view from a hot tub in a holiday park

Warmwell Holiday Park | Check availability

"We loved Warmwell. A pheasant or grouse (can't tell the difference) frequented our verandah every day, and we saw a deer. DS enjoyed the dry ski slope too - recommended by Mumsnet user, AndNoneForGretchenWieners 

A Parkdean Resort, Warmwell is a holiday park near Weymouth, boasting woodland walks, a dry ski slope and fishing lakes. Relax in your own luxury lodge - all have a well-equipped kitchen and some come with a hot tub on the deck. Older kids can let off steam in the pool or at the on-site kids’ club, while younger kids will love the activities in the Arts & Crafts Den and four-legged family members even have their own dedicated play park. 

Nearest train station: Moreton (2 miles)

8. Best family-friendly boutique hotel: The Bull Hotel, Bridport

A smart Georgian street at sunset

The Bull Hotel | Check availability

"We went there for a long weekend a couple of years ago when our daughter was about 18 months. Had a really great time. Don't remember it being noisy at all - but I tend to sleep quite well. Stayed in the Green Fern room. Food is brilliant" - recommended by Mumsnet user, clux73

In the middle of the scenic market town of Bridport, The Bull Hotel is a 16th-century coach house turned quirky boutique hotel. Two miles from sandy West Bay and 20 minutes' drive from Lyme Regis, The Bull is well placed for some of Dorset’s most stunning walks and views. Opt for a spacious, two-bedroom suite with adjoining sitting room; or choose the snug family room with bunk beds and an en suite bathroom. 

Nearest train station: Maiden Newton (13 miles)

9. Best family-friendly luxury hotel: Alexandra Hotel, Lyme Regis

the view from a room at the Alexandra Hotel across lyme bay

Alexandra Hotel | Check availability

"Alexandra Hotel in Lyme is amazing and not stupidly priced" - recommended by Mumsnet user, Mamuss

Perched within an acre of private gardens, The Alexandra Hotel is an oasis of luxury just two minutes from the centre of Lyme Regis. The hotel has direct, road-free access to the beach, and views over Lyme Bay. Relax on the spacious lawn or venture into Lyme to explore its quirky shops and local history. The hotel has two self-catering apartments with courtyards, sleeping 4-6 in two and three bedrooms, or go for a Stackpoole family room in the main hotel. Parking’s very limited in central Lyme - you can reserve a space in the hotel’s car park for £10 per night. 

Nearest train station: Axminster (6 miles)

Is Dorset good for a family holiday?

Dorset is a brilliant destination for a UK family holiday. Aside from its beautiful countryside, it’s the fossil-packed beaches of the Jurassic Coast that really make the county stand out. Further inland there are plenty of attractions to keep kids entertained, as well as historic landmarks and stately homes to visit. 

What’s the nicest part of Dorset to visit?

The Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site stretches from Exmouth in East Devon to Old Harry Rocks at Swanage, Dorset. Staying anywhere along this coast will guarantee you beautiful scenery and fun days at the beach, and Mumsnetters particularly like Lyme Regis, Weymouth and Studland. 

What are the best family attractions in Dorset?

Once you’ve had your fill of fossil-hunting, there’s lots to do inland. Don’t miss exploring Corfe Castle, meeting the residents at Monkey World and, if you’re visiting at the right time, marvel at the exhibits of the Great Dorset Steam Fair

What’s the best family-friendly hotel in Dorset?

Moonfleet Manor is the best family-friendly hotel in Dorset. Mumsnetters love its family-oriented atmosphere and range of facilities, designed for a holiday every member of the family can enjoy. 

How we chose our recommendations 

Researching a holiday is a lengthy process, that’s why we’ve done most of the legwork for you with our in-depth analysis of each hotel we’ve recommended. We spent several hours researching the hotels and weighing up the pros and cons of each.

Using Mumsnset users’ recommendations as a starting point, we also looked at travel sites including CN Traveller, The Telegraph and parenting travel blogs to create a longlist of different hotels to suit all tastes, needs and budgets. Then we scrutinised the real-life reviews of travellers from and TripAdvisor to make sure that their experiences matched up. Having collated all that information, we then narrowed our list down to the best family hotels in Dorset at the moment.

Why you should trust us 

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.