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Discover the colourful towns, golden sands and Jurassic coastline of this southern gem

Travel ‘far from the madding crowd’ to the county of Dorset, birthplace of Thomas Hardy. Famed for its soft sandy beaches and pretty port towns, this destination on England’s south coast is a charming spot for a villa holiday. You can easily combine a visit here with a coastal itinerary featuring its equally attractive neighbours, Devon and Hampshire.

Each of our Dorset holiday villas, cottages and lodges afford you excellent access to the county’s attractions, such as the UNESCO-listed Jurassic coast, seaside towns including Poole and Bournemouth, and historic market towns exemplified by Sherborne and Dorchester. Stay in a luxury property either tucked away by the sea or set in one of the county’s high-end neighbourhoods. We’ve ensured our portfolio includes only those holiday homes with the best amenities. After a day enjoying the beaches, you can come home and kick back in your cinema room, soak in your hot tub or take advantage of 24/7 hotel-style service.

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About Dorset

The ceremonial county of Dorset has been a popular seaside destination for hundreds of years. In the 18th century, King George III’s restorative jaunts here helped build the region’s reputation as a summer retreat worthy of royalty. Now millions of people come from far and wide annually for the fetching beaches, vibrant towns, Victorian piers and fossil-rich cliffs. Yet you can still find secluded coves and quiet stretches of sand to enjoy, if you know where to look. 

Thomas Hardy was born here, and Dorset helped inspire much of ’Wessex’ — the county where the author set many of his celebrated novels, including Far from the Madding Crowd and Tess of the d’Urbervilles. 

Known as ‘the pearl of Dorset’, Lyme Regis boasts a different literary connection. Its cobbled harbour starred in both Persuasion by Jane Austen, and The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles. The town is more famous, however, as a destination for fossil hunters. Its cliffs and beaches form part of the renowned Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and hide a bounty of prehistoric treasure. The Jurassic Coast is also home to the famous Lulworth Cove and nearby Durdle Door — an iconic limestone arch. Weymouth, the old King’s seaside haunt, also lies along the Jurassic Coast, and its golden sands, pretty harbour and Georgian-era esplanade make a visit here a must.   

For the very best beaches, be sure to visit Sandbanks. This stretch of Poole Bay features more Blue Flag-certified beaches than anywhere else in the UK. You can also set sail from Poole to the nearby National Trust-owned Brownsea Island, a tiny wooded haven for wildlife, or go a little further to the Isle of Wight.

Other popular spots such as Bournemouth, Sherborne and Bridport — whose golden cliffs starred in Broadchurch — offer more reasons to visit. Whether you’re a surfer, fossil hunter, coastal walker or simply love being beside the sea, Dorset is certain to win your heart. 

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