The lovely county of Thomas Hardy is sometimes overlooked in favour of its higher profile neighbours, but opting for hotels in Dorset when you plan your next break could be a smart decision. So, before you dash off to Cornwall or make a beeline for Sussex, check out some Dorset hotels and indulge yourself in the luxury of 4-star hotels in a destination that’s truly 5-star.First stop has to be beautiful Bournemouth, which grew to prominence with the popularity of sea bathing in the Edwardian era, bringing visitors from far and wide to take the waters and breath the pungent air of the pine trees that line Bournemouth beach. Some of the charm of that era can still be recaptured in buildings such as the Winter Gardens, the art deco theatres and cinemas and the impressive spa hotels that sprang up to service the growing stream of rich and famous visitors.
Bournemouth has never been content to rest on its historic laurels however, and today it’s a vibrant and modern town with plenty to keep culture vultures more than happy. Bournemouth International Centre is one of the major venues on the south coast, hosting performances by international stars as well as influential political conferences and trade exhibitions. This has encouraged a number of well-known chains of business hotels to locate in the town, helping to swell visitor numbers at the budget end of the scale.
Nature-lovers won’t be able to resist a trip to Brownsea Island, the largest of eight islands in Poole Harbour and owned by the National Trust. Thanks to its isolation from the mainland it is one of the few remaining places in England where indigenous red squirrels can still be found, while the lagoon is a popular feeding ground for wading birds such as terns and avocets.
To the west of the county lies Lyme Regis, known as the "Pearl of Dorset" and favourite holiday haunt of J. R. R. Tolkien. Check into one of the romantic hotels in the pretty town centre before following in the footsteps of John Fowles’ enigmatic French Lieutenant’s Woman with a bracing walk along the Cobb. Then visit the museum built on the site of the family shop of famous palaeontologist Mary Anning to learn more about the fascinating fossils found on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site..