A beautiful cottage in a lovely location - very much unchanged, apart from all the things they have added to make your stay as luxurious and comfortable as possible.

Thomas Hardy is always popular, with the recent remake of Far from the Madding Crowd there is perhaps no better place to play Bathsheba and Gabriel Oak than this immaculate holiday cottage, located in the picturesque and historic small Dorset town of Shaftesbury, where the first version of the film was filmed – along with the iconic 1960s Ridley Scott Hovis advert, no less. This is England at its most bucolic, tranquil and in many ways unchanged, and this beautiful cottage, owned since 2006 by Jane and Simon Colston, is the best place to enjoy it, with spacious accommodation for six people and a beautiful garden overlooking the nearby Vale of Blackmore. The cottage has four bedrooms in all – two doubles, two singles – individually furnished with hand-crafted and antique furniture (a couple also have lovely sleigh beds), Egyptian cotton sheets and hypoallergenic pillows. The largest bedroom has an en-suite shower room, and there's also a family bathroom (with bath) and a ground floor slate-walled wet room with a shower and loo. There's a cosy sitting room with a massive inglenook fireplace with wood-burning stove, plus all the technology you may require – TV, DVD player, CD player and mp3 connection, even a video player (and a selection of videos and DVDs). For the budding musicians amongst you, the cottage also boasts a ground floor music room/quiet room with baby grand piano. There's a large and airy dining room with a lovely long school refectory table that can seat up to 12, and a kitchen that is suitably equipped to feed all those people, with an Aga Masterchef oven and hob, Nespresso machine and food processor, as well as the usual dishwasher, microwave and fridge-freezer. The nice thing is there are always lots of food basics on hand, plus they provide a welcome tray with bread, cereals, coffee and tea on arrival. Heaven, basically – in what is one of the loveliest parts of England.

The Owner Says

We were sold on Updown Cottage from the moment we walked in - so many guests have told us that they meant to explore the surrounding area but found themselves drawn to the windows or the garden, transfixed by the ever changing light over the scene spread out below. We set out to renovate the cottage so that its sense of timelessness would be the over-riding feature with contemporary design and luxury sitting subtly in the background. Music is a strong presence, with a baby grand piano standing looking over the Blackmore Vale. Simon has been a chorister from a very young age, his father was a musician and music teacher and we bought the cottage from the delightful Gordon Haskell of 'How Wonderful You Are' and King Crimson fame. Dvorak is heard to be hummed and whistled quite frequently too! Updown has been awarded 5* with a Gold award every year since opening in 2007 and has recently been chosen by The Independent as one of the 20 best cosy holiday cottages for winter. See article.

Our favourite spot

On warmer days, the terrace with a glass of wine, coffee, breakfast...whatever suits...with the whole of the Blackmore Vale spread out below.

In winter, snuggled on the sofa beside the woodburner in the inglenook.

The local area

Shaftesbury stands in the very tip of north Dorset, close to the borders of Wiltshire and Somerset and is therefore perfectly placed for exploring: Bath, Clifton / Bristol, the Jurassic coast, Stonehenge, Salisbury, Sherborne, Corfe Castle, the southern Cotswolds, Lyme Regis and east Devon are all reachable within an hour. The ancient small town perches 700 feet up on an outcrop of greenstone rock and was the site of King Alfred the Great's Abbey, the walls of which still stand opposite the cottage. The High Street is just a minute's walk uphill from Updown's front door and is cooly (but not too cooly!) unpretentious.

Best local places to eat and drink

Shaftesbury has an eclectic selection of useful and stylish independent shops, cafes, restaurants, galleries, pubs and delis with a strong emphasis on local produce. Sophistication isn't forgotten with excellent cocktails available at The Grosvenor Arms and one of the best Indian restaurants in the country.

Why stay with us?

Escapism, rest, recuperation and being surrounded by history and character are the main reasons for choosing Updown but as one of our first guests commented 'there is a real spirit of generosity'. We supply gorgeous Bramley shampoos, conditioners and hand / body washes  throughout (as found in Conran establishments) and there are hairdriers in every room. White Company Egyptian cotton bedlinen and piles of towels and bathrobes mean that you need only to think of packing your clothes. There is wifi, free landline national calls and good mobile signal so working 'from home' is possible if necessary. You will also find a basket of logs by the woodburner in the inglenook and a basket of groceries in the kitchen (Nespresso capsules, tea, milk, bread, jam, marmalade, orange juice, butter and Dorset Cereals muesli). Necessities such as oil and spices and cleaning products are stocked in the cupboards.


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