The Castle Inn, West Lulworth
Rustic luxe pub with rooms, food by a Blumenthal protégé and just two minutes walk away from the stunning Jurassic coast. I'd say the dream combo for a weekend away...
Team Muddy’s Annie and partner Rick packed their overnight bags and went to check out the newly restored The Castle Inn in West Lulworth, Dorset. Over to you, Annie…
The tranquil village of West Lulworth on the Isle of Purbeck – the ideal base for exploring Dorset’s spectacular Jurassic coast and surrounding area: Corfe Castle to the east, the Isle of Portland, Abbotsbury, West Bay and Bridport to the west.
Friendly, traditional thatched pub dating back to the 16th century, completely renovated in a modern rustic style by Somerset’s Butcombe Brewery. A large bar area and open central fireplace, spacious rooms either side for casual dining or larger groups, with plenty of nooks and crannies to tuck into for a cosy dinner. Quirky lamps and vintage décor add to the atmos.
In warm weather sit at wooden benches at the front of the pub to watch the passers by or take the steep path at the back of the pub for tables with good views across the village.
A good mix of locals, after work drinkers and couples down to explore the impressive coastline.
SCOFF & QUAFF
As the sun went down, we sipped Provencal rosé and a pint of Liberation (the cask ale of the week) and nibbled on wild garlic nuts and some surprisingly good olives as we perused the menu put together by Heston Blumenthal’s protege, Ashley Walcott. Alongside the familiar pub favourites (cheese burgers, beer-battered fish and chips) there are more exotic dishes, utilising local seasonal ingredients.
So to start: Wye Valley asparagus with poached egg, hollandaise sause and cardamom crumb for me; for him: garlic and chilli king prawns – both delicious.
Mains from the specials menu. Soft shell-on crab linguine with samphire – a vast portion of seafood loveliness – and similarly sized seafood stew which heavily featured those prawns again, this time in a delicious lobster bisque. Parmesan polenta chips were an unusual and tasty side order which turned out to be superfluous to requirements.
In the interests of research we forced ourselves to sample the puddings: lemon posset with raspberry sherbet and raspberry sorbet which was creamy, sharp and satisfying and the dark chocolate cheesecake with salted caramel and popcorn cream shown here moments before it disappeared.
Booze? A bottle of Albarino went down very well with the seafood.
A short stagger up to our room Stair Hole (named after a local cove) where we dozed off listening to the happy burble of guests finding it hard to leave the pub’s warm hospitality. Apparently, No 12 is the quiet room if you long for perfect silence in your boudoir.
Comfortable, stylish with some unusual touches like a vintage radio and a office lamp upcycled from an old typewriter.
Nice touches: homemade biscuits, sparkling or still water, fluffy white towels and a good shower – with complimentary Bramble products should you have forgotten your shampoo.
Breakfast was all the staples – granola, mini croissants, cereals and jams and a large tub of Nutella – plus cooked breakfasts to order. We had a poached egg with chilli avocado on sourdough and a full Dorset: bacon, sausage, black pudding, the lot.
OUT & ABOUT
The coast is what you come for. Walk off that breakfast with a 10-minute walk (or 2 min drive, if you must) to the crescent-shaped Lulworth Cove or a more strenuous 20-minute walk up a long steep incline to see the iconic limestone arch of Durdle Door. It really is worth the effort, as you find yourself overlooking a beach with turquoise waters to rival any in the world which will truly take your breath away (if the hill climb didn’t already). Take a picnic and your swimming costume to complete the holiday experience.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: A great pub for a romantic stay for foodies or active families on the Dorset coast with exciting walks nearby. Pop in for food at any time – this is all day dining. Vegans and gluten free options available. There’s a dedicated garden and takeaway menu. Well-behaved dogs are positively welcomed.
Not for: Don’t go if you’re not hungry – portions are vast. Those looking for a formal dining experience or perfect quietude.
The damage: Reasonable. Starters £6-£8, Mains £13-£14, Puddings £6. There are 12 boutique rooms: doubles from £99; comfy plus double from £103; family rooms from £129. Six of the rooms are dog friendly and charged at £15 extra.
Opening times: Normal pub hours. Key available for late night guests. Check in 3pm. Check out 11pm. Free parking.