Looking to stay in the heart of Dorset in a grand venue also steeped in history? Well, why not spoil yourself with a visit to the Lord Bute boutique hotel and restaurant in beautiful Highcliffe? This 5* luxury retreat perfectly treads the line between grand residence and friendly accommodation and is idyllically situated on the western fringe of the New Forest National Park in the original grounds of Highcliffe Castle, close to Christchurch, Bournemouth and Lymington.
Town and country
You will find the Lord Bute along the A337 Lymington Road in Highcliffe. If you’re driving you will approach the hotel from the A31 off of the M3 from the east, the A338 Bournemouth road from the west or the A36 coming down from Salisbury in the north and there is free, unallocated private parking at the hotel. The Lord Bute is conveniently placed for local transport links too, being just one mile from the nearest train station, Hinton Admiral, and eight and a half miles from Bournemouth International Airport.
The Lord Bute hotel has quite a history. It was once home to King George III’s Prime Minister John Stuart, the third Earl of Bute in 1762-1763, when he spent some time in the New Forest in search of rare plants (he was a keen botanist and went on to found Kew Gardens). He commissioned Robert Adam to design several buildings including a seaside mansion (now Highcliffe Castle) and a series of 18th century entrance lodges, which today are occupied by the hotel suites. When Lord Bute died he left it to his youngest son General Sir Charles Stuart, who passed it to his own son Charles, who was ennobled as Lord Stuart de Rothsay. Rothsay took it upon himself to finish building the castle and leased the property to one Harry Selfridge, the much-celebrated ‘Mr Selfridge’.
Rothsay’s entrance lodges are now some of the Lord Bute’s 13 boutique and modern bedrooms and suites, which together provide luxurious 5* accommodation. All ensuite, the hotel guest rooms and residences are fully equipped with everything you could wish for from a relaxing and enjoyable stay on the beautiful Dorset – Hampshire border.
There are ten guest bedrooms and three suites, two of which occupy the original Highcliffe Castle gatehouses with their own private garden areas. The third is the lavish Lord Bute Suite, with canopied bad and separate living area; all three suites are popular choices for newlyweds.
All guest bedrooms have an ensuite bath and shower, free WiFi and a trouser press, king-sized bed, flatscreen television, work desk and tea and coffee making facilities. The room rate includes a Full English breakfast in the popular hotel restaurant.
A suite night’s stay
The Coach House Suite is ideal for families or groups of four with a super king double bed and a fold-our double sofa bed. You’ll find a small kitchen on the ground floor and private garden courtyard.
The Lord Bute Suite is in one of the Castle’s original 18th century entrance lodges, with a bedroom upstairs and a ground-floor sitting room.
The Garden Suite is a bright and spacious accommodation with beautiful garden and decked terrace. The air-conditioned bedroom has a large double bed and there’s a separate dressing room – the perfect space for getting ready for a wedding or grand event. The suite also has a separate sitting room.
Individual guest bedrooms
The Boardroom is a large first floor bedroom accommodating two people as a super king double. It can be linked to the Coach House Suite for spacious group accommodation with a shared kitchen.
The Lord Bute has seven large ensuite guest bedrooms within the main hotel, each with a 6-foot super king size bed, tea and coffee making facilities, television with Freeview, a trouser press and writing desk. Like the suites, every bedroom is individually styled and designed with contemporary décor. The hotel also has two standard ensuite bedrooms with 5-foot king size bed and all other amenities to offer a budget-friendly option in a compact, yet comfortable setting.
Check-in is between 3 and 6pm and guests can check out any time from 8 to 11am on the final day of their stay. Children of all ages are welcome to stay but pets cannot be accommodated.
Getting married at the Lord Bute
Given its idyllic beachside location, the grand castle backdrop and gardens and remarkable historical connections it’s no surprise that the Lord Bute is a popular place for weddings and other events and functions. In fact, it’s been throwing weddings for the past 20 years and is now licensed for marriage ceremonies and civil partnerships too. In the daytime the hotel can accommodate between 40 and 105 guests and 150 in total for an evening wedding reception. If you want a really exclusive do, your party can take over the whole hotel for the day or even the weekend.
Your wedding breakfast
The Lord Bute knows the importance of great hospitality and instead of requiring a pre-ordered menu on your special day, invites your guests to select what they want on the day from a carefully designed menu of locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. The Bridal Suite is your choice of the elegant Garden Suite or the plush Lord Bute Suite depending on your taste. The wine list is chosen to complement your menu and your budget – ready for that all-important toast!
If you’ve not sourced your photographer, florist, cake designer, transport, toastmaster or other wedding suppliers, speak to the Lord Bute team, who have many excellent contacts and can put you in touch with some people they can personally recommend to help make your day a memorable one.
Lord Bute restaurant
The restaurant at the Lord Bute serves up mouth-watering European cuisine with a variety of traditional and more modern dishes. At lunch they offer a delicious set menu across two or three courses with dishes such as Dorset coast crab and coriander cakes for starters, pan roasted organic salmon with steamed sapphire grass and a watercress and champagne cream sauce for main and a medley of tempting desserts including a vanilla and white chocolate crème brulee.
In the evenings the restaurant provides an a la carte menu with starters such as seared King scallops and an ambitious twice-baked soufflé. For mains, perhaps you’d fancy a Romsey lamb rump or a fillet of Jurassic Coast beef? If you’re working to a budget there’s a delicious £27 three-course dinner menu packed with temptation with sample dishes including chicken and game terrine, slow roasted belly of pork and a devilish blackberry and almond frangipane tart.
Besides its standard menus, the Lord Bute and restaurant also throws a number of special events across the year including a regular cabaret night and an award-winning four-course Sunday lunch featuring all the popular roast meats plus several alternatives if you fancy something a little different. The Lord Bute hosts a popular Wednesday Dinner Jazz Dinner every week throughout the year, again with its own delicious-looking three course table d’hote dinner menu.
The restaurant is open for lunch six days a week with lunch starting at 12 midday and dinner from 7pm Tuesday to Sunday. The restaurant and bar are closed on Saturday lunch times and Sunday evenings but you’re close to many local restaurants, cafes and pubs whether you’re looking for a relaxing forest setting, a venue for a pre-show meal, a post-beach snack or somewhere to rest on a lap around the shops.
Whether you’re drawn to the Lord Bute for its rich history or you’re after some laid-back luxury in the shadow of historic Highcliffe Castle, just minutes away from its exclusive stretch of beach, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome at the Lord Bute.