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Dog-friendly holidays in Dorset

Although it’s a successful hotel now, back in the early 1900s, when Knoll House first opened its doors, it was actually a family home.

Members of the Bankes family, and their tenants, made Knoll their summer retreat. From 1931, it passed into the hands of hoteliers Commander Christopher Smith and his wife Poppy – shown in our captivating archive picture with their staff and “hotel dog” Nicky. As many of us would agree, dogs formed an important part of their family and became some of the house’s most cherished residents. 

Today, it’s easy to see that Knoll House is very much a home first and a hotel second. We’ve continued to offer a big welcome to four-legged guests (just head over to our social media pages to see some of them in action), with water bowls dotted throughout the hotel and dog treats available at reception. We believe it’s this history and approach that makes Knoll House one of the best dog-friendly hotels in Dorset.

So, if you’re planning a holiday with your canine companion, here are some of our top suggestions for dog-friendly things to do. 

Walkies (of course)

With Knoll House set right on the South West Coast Path, this is a popular spot for walkers – on two legs or four. While you’re here, make the most of our surrounding landscape by venturing out for some scenic walks. You’ll find a selection of the top routes on our walks page, or visit the South West Coast Path website to see more.

Corfe Castle

This atmospheric 1,000-year-old castle sits atop a hill, with beautiful and commanding views of the Purbeck countryside. Once you’ve explored the castle itself (dogs are welcome on short leads), you might also head out on one of the surrounding walks, taking in the Purbeck Hills or Corfe Common. 

Swanage Railway

Climb aboard a vintage steam or diesel train, and travel in style along the line from Norden to Corfe Castle. Make your journey part of a day out, or go along for one of the railway’s special experience events. Dogs are welcome on the train (with the exception of the buffet and dining trains), if they’re kept on a lead and on the floor. 

Durlston Country Park

Encompassing 320 acres of coast and countryside, Durlston Country Park and National Nature Reserve is a stunning spot to stretch your legs. There are four different trails to choose from – woodland, clifftop, wildlife or Victorian – with plenty to see on each. Dogs on leads or under close control are very welcome (leads are requested in the castle and café), and you’ll find water bowls on the terrace outside the castle. 

Explore Swanage

Only around 10 minutes away by car, Swanage is a town well worth a day’s exploring. Take a peek at the pier, and head down to nearby Monkey Beach (where dogs are allowed all year round). Swanage Golf Games welcomes dogs on leads, so you could even stop by for a dog-friendly game of pitch and putt. 

Go to the beach

If you’re having a holiday on the coast, beach days are a must. Dogs are free to roam on most local beaches during the off-peak season (usually from September/October through to March/April), but there are a number that remain dog friendly even in the summer. Lulworth Cove (left of the slipway), Durdle Door and Kimmeridge Bay are great spots all-year-round. Check the Visit Dorset website for more details.

And there’s more

To find out even more about dog-friendly things to do in Dorset, visit the Dorset Dogs website, which also has a map showing which areas are on- and off-lead. 

Make memories

We always love to see your photos of pets having fun at Knoll House; so if you're coming along for a stay, do tag your loved ones on our social channels (Instagram @knollhousehotel and Facebook @KnollHouseHotel). 

Find out more about dog-friendly stays at Knoll House, or take a look at our special Sandy Paws offer