The best places to eat, stay, shop and visit in the South West


Discover the creative shops, restaurants, bars and hotels adding authentic quirkiness to the quaint town
The Clockspire, Sherborne
Image: Tom Asteriades

Sherborne is so much more than just honey‑coloured turrets and chic boutiques. Rosanna Rothery discovers quirky depths that make for a delicious day trip or mini break

Sherborne’s got the looks alright. As if auditioning to be the backdrop in the next big costume drama, its antiquated charms are flaunted in honey‑coloured turrets and towers.

Two castles (one, frankly, is never enough), a magnificent abbey and pretty almshouses give it heritage‑core vibes in spades. It’s little surprise that such drop‑dead gorgeousness caught the eye of location scouts for films such as The Imitation Game and Far from the Madding Crowd.

It would be easy to sum up Sherborne as frightfully genteel: the kind of historic town favoured by the smart set who want to be able to hop on a train and be in Waterloo in a couple of hours. It’s got the necessary farmers’ market, public schools and chic boutiques and has just been named by The Times as the best place to live in the South West.

Yet root around beneath those spires and steeples and you’ll discover a bunch of creatives and entrepreneurs adding authentic quirkiness to Sherborne’s quaint vibes.

Image: Katharine Davies

Heritage and hip

Entering D’Urberville on Cheap Street is like walking into a fabulous vintage‑French Instagram feed ‑ a far cry from your average musty antique shop. Uncover a nostalgic curation of timeworn treasures and Brocante‑style furniture over two floors.

The abandoned‑château vibe (shabby chic with peeling silk wallpaper) is complemented by a menu du jour in a cafe with specials such as harissa‑roasted carrot and caramelised shallot tart, and amaretto, plum and almond croissant cake.

On Friday evenings, the drinks get cooler and the vibe hotter as the cafe turns into a cocktail bar where you can sip jungle bitters and nibble on light bites. Keep an eye on socials for desserts‑and‑drinks soirées, furniture‑upcycling workshops and abstract‑painting sessions.

Bean Shot

Off-beat beverages

Sherborne has a plethora of unique places to sit and sip. Locals congregate at Oliver’s for its patisserie and art‑deco atmosphere while fans of speciality coffee cool down with a Spanish latte (espresso and sweetened condensed milk poured over ice and milk) at Bean Shot. If they’re lucky they may even get invited to star in the latter’s hilarious Instagram reels.

Those desiring the type of tipple to cause a ripple at dinner parties head to the wine bar and store at Drinksmith in The Grain Loft. The owners have a penchant for leftfield regions and wine styles so there is always something interesting to try. For more bottles and banter, Vineyards in the Old Yarn Mills is a social hub of tastings, festivals, quiz nights and foodie pop ups. It won the Drinks Retailing Awards UK’s Best Indie Wine Shop 2024. There are also hearty ales and heaps of history to be discovered in the town’s pubs including Sherborne’s oldest inn The George. In complete contrast, the newly refurbished Grade I‑listed house The Sherborne is a fresh setting for drinks or lunch with a side of creative inspo from artisans and makers.

Horrell & Horrell

Epicurean excursions

An evening spent at Horrell & Horrell is like rocking up at a foodie friend’s house with a bottle of wine and letting them cook something from their garden especially for you. A few miles out of town in the village of Sparkford, this is a unique micro‑dining experience for up to 30 guests. While you sip an aperitif, Jules Horrell gathers fruit and veg from the kitchen garden for husband Steve to get creative with in the wood‑fired kitchen.

Dinner ‑ there are no menus ‑ is served in their old cow barn on a long sharing table decked out with dried fruits and flowers from the orchard and cutting patch. From February to December the rustic feasts take place three evenings a week alongside Sunday lunch.


If you’re travelling to Sherborne via the A303, then The Story Pig, ten minutes out of town, is perfect for a picturesque pit stop. Farmer James Hull and wife Swedish baker Charlotte have turned their off‑grid farm, specialising in Tamworth pigs and lavender, into a gourmet destination.

Relax in a charming tipi cafe and feast on free‑range pork in burgers and rolls, enjoy the kitchen‑garden produce in salads, and sample Charlotte’s kanelbulle (soft buns with a cinnamon centre drizzled in icing). Don’t leave without strolling around fragrant fields, meeting the piglets and buying something for supper from the farm shop. Those staying nearby can also take advantage of weekend pizza nights where fresh‑from‑the‑oven doughy delights include The Story Pig chorizo.

Teals, just off the A303, is another exciting emporium of edible experiences. Fill your shoppers from its deli, veg stall, butchery, bottleshop and lifestyle curations before feasting on the likes of flatbreads topped with fennel‑spiced sausage, caramelised onion and Ogleshield cheese.

Sherborne, The Clockspire
Image: Doug Grigg

In-spired supper

After a day of squinting up at fan‑vaulted ceilings and medieval glass in Sherborne, it’s only natural for sightseers to seek out somewhere lavish for supper. Dining beneath a spectacular soaring ceiling and candelabras scores pretty highly on the glam‑ometer, so it’s worth making the short drive to The Clockspire at Milborne Port.

It’s a former school and dates back to 1864 but there’s not a whiff of school dinners about the place. Stone walls, polished concrete floors and exposed oak beams create a swanky setting for head chef Luke Sutton’s (previously of Michelin‑starred L’Ortolan in Berkshire) delicious tasting and á la carte menus.

Kick off with a “clocktale” (Very Cherry is a summery burst of fruit) at the marble‑topped bar on a mezzanine level and watch the theatre of dining unfold below. Descend for elegant modern dishes crafted from ingredients such as house gin‑cured salmon, Cornish monkfish and Creedy Carver duck.

Other decent dining options include The Green Restaurant at the top of Cheap Street for a reliably good menu, and the characterful White Post in nearby Rimpton for elevated pub food.

The Eastbury

Regency-core romance

If the new series of Bridgerton is making you pine for regency romance, then rest assured The Eastbury Hotel & Spa is poised to sweep you off your feet. Nestled in a row of honey‑coloured cottages, this bijou Georgian townhouse is the perfect destination for a night’s repose after a day roaming around Sherborne’s romantic ruins.

Be cosseted by comfortable beds, a swoon‑worthy breakfast and oodles of trad charm. The cosy Victorian Potting Shed Suites (complete with sedum roofs and private terraces) are set in magical back‑to‑Eden gardens. Don’t check out before experiencing the hobbit‑hole spa.

Out of town, The Queen’s Arms at Corton Denham dates back to Georgian times and has attractive rooms and an excellent food offering. Two miles away, Stoneleigh Barton offers B&B in a 19th‑century former hay barn.

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