For sheer scale, Dorset’s The Grand Rectory wins by a cliff face. Round up your nearest and dearest, your chums, your hens and your dogs and wend your way down to Symondsbury to celebrate. Invite your enemies if you like. Sleeping 32 adults and 10 children, this place is so big, you’ll never see them.
Solid and palatial with leather sofas and air-purifying houseplants, The Grand Rectory just needs a few ceiling fans to complete the colonial feel. What isn’t missing is the 6 metre swim spa: kick against the current before breakfast, chill in the bubbles, then take your coffee and croissants on the veranda with views over the fields towards the sea.
Cook on three electric ovens and an Aga and grab a four-poster for bedtime, but not before you’ve found the games room. Raid the bar, play the retro arcade machine, and bag the bragging rights over pool and table football. Enjoy quiet evenings in the card room or get together in the drawing room for Sky and BT on the telly. More tea, vicar?
You’ve plentiful garden space to explore and all the time in the world to do so. Play croquet on one of two lawns and take your tea on the overlooking veranda with views out over lush fields down to the sea.
Keep your fitness up or just bob around in the bubbles in the swim spa. Sweat it out in the sauna. Light the gas barbecue and sear your sausages in the sunshine on the courtyard deck.
Once thought to be the country’s largest rectory, The Grand Rectory has space in spades and comforts aplenty. There’s a colonial feel here among the houseplants and the chunky leather sofas in a house decorated in keeping with its past, yet modern conveniences abound.
You don’t get much more modern than the BT FTTP Wi-Fi that whizzes around the place at 90mbps. Bring your passwords and use it to check in to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Or get around the 46” drawing-room TV or 42” cinema-snug telly to catch up on movies and matches on the full Sky and BT packages.
Among the flagstone floors, open fireplaces, oak and pine floorboards, baize door coverings and spectacular central staircase, your stage is set. And don’t forget the games room, if only for the bar. Prop it up as you thrash out family rivalries on the pool table or over table football, then waste a few hours on the retro arcade games.
Stay here because you have a family reunion, because you’re celebrating, because you love the Dorset coast, because your hens want to feel special, or just because you can.
Everything here is built around comfort at scale and the dining room’s no exception. With room for 32 around the tables, there’s plenty space to pass the butter and pour the wine without bumping elbows. If you prefer things al-fresco, head out to the courtyard garden for bangers and burgers from the gas barbecue.
Three electric ovens, an Aga, six electric hob tops, American fridge/freezer, two additional larder fridges, and two wine coolers say you’ll ace the kitchen thing. If not, call up our pro chefs from Dorset Fine Dining, Hungry Mule or Authentic Indian Catering for a one-off celebration or fully catered break.
Order tasty takeaways from Somtum (for Thai), Domino’s or Sundorbon for Indian. Eat out in the village at The Ilchester Arms on traditional pub grub including Whitby scampi and local meat Sunday roasts. Book an al-fresco table overlooking the beach at The Anchor Inn or pop in for a full English breakfast at Symondsbury Kitchen.
Enjoy fish dishes, always the heroes of the place at The Club House in West Bexington, with its art-deco nautical feel. Put some pizza on your plate at The Bull Hotel in Bridport. Or sample Japanese and Asian fare such as torched scallops or chicken tenders at Dorshi in Bridport, washed down with Jasmine Sour cocktails.
Inch open your windows because The Grand Rectory is where sea breezes meet country air and you’ll wake recharged, refreshed and regenerated. Plenty of bedrooms here, so it’s deep-breath time…
Bedroom one comes with an en-suite shower room and sleeps four in a superking four poster with day bed and trundle, while bedroom two is a kingsize with a shower room across the landing. Bedroom three offers a superking four-poster with en-suite shower room and bedroom four sleeps four in two singles, a day bed and trundle.
Bedroom five provides a superking four-poster with en-suite bathroom and bedroom six comes with a kingsize with en-suite shower room. There’s a superking bed in bedroom seven, which has an adjacent bathroom, a kingsize in bedroom eight, while bedroom nine gives you another superking four-poster.
En-suite bedrooms 10 and 11 both sleep four, with a superking, day bed and trundle, while bedroom 12 is a kingsize with a bathroom across the landing.
Bedroom 13 provides a superking, day bed and en-suite shower room, bedroom 14 features a kingsize four-poster with en-suite shower room, and bedroom 15 and 16 are kingsizes that share a Jack and Jill shower room. Fifteen has a cot bed.
The winding Dorset country lanes, described by Wessex novelist Thomas Hardy as ‘narrow tortuous and miry’, lead you to The Grand Rectory’s imposing frontage. For imposing, read ‘big’. Big means you can bring the whole family up to a generous limit of 42. So the kids won’t be pining for the folks back home.
Outside, there is plenty of grass and garden space in which to hide, seek, roll, cartwheel and otherwise detox from devices. Have a go at croquet on the two immaculate English lawns, followed by tea on the veranda that stares wistfully across the fields to the sea. Older children can thrash away the day in the jetted swim spa.
Stay out there for supper, with burgers from the barbecue or pizzas fresh from the pizza oven consumed in the courtyard with decked area. Head indoors to the games room to play the retro arcade machine and beat the grown-ups at pool and table football.
Bag a book from the library or spend a quiet evening over cards, or get the whole clan together to tap into the 90mbps BT Wi-Fi and watch full Sky and BT packages or Netflix and Amazon box sets on the 46” drawing-room TV (don’t forget your password) or choose from the selection of DVD’s to play on the cinema-snug’s 42” telly.