Your Guide to Family Friendly Holiday Accommodations in Dorset

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Your Guide to Family Friendly Holiday Accommodations in Dorset

With its spectacular beauty, rural charm, and abundance of activities and attractions, Dorset is a perfect place to spend a family holiday. Located in South West England, Dorset county boasts a stunning shoreline that is the UK's first UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, and an unspoilt countryside that has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are ancient castles and forts to explore, gorgeous gardens, and vast stretches for walking, biking, horseback riding, and more. Fishing, golf, water sports, and extreme sports are available to visitors, and children's farms and activity centres make it an exciting place for young ones.

When it comes to finding family friendly holiday accommodations, Dorset presents visitors with a wide range of options, from caravan parks to four-star luxury hotels. Setting a budget in advance helps narrow choices down, as does thinking about location and atmosphere preferences. Self-catering can be a great way for families to economise, and the array of farmers' markets with fresh, seasonal produce means it is still possible to sample local fare without breaking the bank. Many accommodations are also wheelchair-accessible, have environmentally sustainable practices, and can accept pets. Researching available accommodations helps holidaymakers find the right place for their family.

Types of Family Accommodation in Dorset

There are several different types of family-friendly accommodations in Dorset.

Accommodation Type


Caravan and Camping

Caravan and camping sites where visitors can pitch their own units, or hire a static caravan with modern amenities; vary in location, site type, size, and level of facilities; some can be quite peaceful and secluded; a good way to economise

Farm Holidays

Rooms available on working farms; luxury accommodation in historic homes; gardens and live animals offer interest for visitors, especially children; many serve breakfast; other meals may sometimes be arranged


Accommodations may include dormitory, single, and family rooms with private or shared bathrooms; secure storage and other facilities, including self-catering kitchen; great option for shoestring budgets

Guest Houses and Bed-and-Breakfasts

Friendly, family-run accommodations with a few rooms in quiet, intimate surroundings; home-cooked breakfast included

Holiday Villages

Larger parks with a number of static caravans or cottages; amenities ranging from basic to luxurious; may feature on-site playgrounds, shops, restaurants, and other family activities; a particularly family-oriented, affordable option


Include small, family-run hotels, boutique hotels, and luxury hotels with spas, fine dining, and more; variety of locations, from coastal to countryside; breakfast usually included

Pubs and Inns

Located in rural settings; many are historic buildings; pub food located on premises; breakfast usually included; some have en-suite rooms ideal for families

Self-Catering Cottages

Individual cottages for rent; various sizes, locations, and styles; visitors can prepare their own meals or explore local pubs and restaurants; self-catering can be a good way to save money

Travellers should be advised that some hotels, guest houses, and farms may be more family-oriented than others. When in doubt, it helps to inquire with the staff before booking. Also, verify whether prices are per person or per room. Many places offer guests the option of an additional cotbed to add an extra party to a room.

Accessible Accommodations

There are many accommodations in Dorset for travellers who may need some access assistance. The National Accessible Scheme conducts inspections of facilities and grades them according to the level of access available. There are four signs, each indicating the degree of mobility the facility can accommodate: travellers with sufficient mobility who may benefit from the assistance of fixtures for balance; those with restricted walking ability who also use a wheelchair; those dependent on a wheelchair and who can transfer to a seated position themselves; and travellers who are wheelchair-dependent and need assistance transferring to a seating position.

Travellers for whom access is a concern should look for accommodation displaying the appropriate sign. Some ungraded accommodations may still be accessible, but have not been inspected according to the National Accessible Scheme.

Green Tourism

Tourists on holiday in Dorset are likely to marvel at the beauty of their natural surroundings; fortunately, there are a number of accommodations that are committed to preserving the balance of the local environment through sustainable practices. There are many different organisations that assess businesses in the tourism industry for their level of environmental impact. For example, the Green Tourism Business Scheme assesses sustainability in areas like management and marketing, social involvement and communication, energy, water, purchasing, waste, travel, natural and cultural heritage, and innovation. Businesses receive a bronze, silver, or gold award for their achievements in these areas.

Tourists can take a number of steps to support the local environment and reduce impact, such as buying local products, reusing towels and linens rather than having them changed every day, reusing water bottles and plastic bags, turning lights and appliances off when not in use, and recycling. Much of Dorset can be explored car-free by walking, cycling, or taking a bus or train. Supporting businesses that employ sustainable practices is another way to help make a difference.

Pet Accommodation

For travellers who would like to take their pet along on holiday, there are options. Several inns, cottages, and farmhouses indicate that well-behaved pets are welcome on their premises. Caravan, camping, and holiday parks may have their own pet policies. Holidaymakers should always verify this in advance.

Tips for Choosing Family-Friendly Accommodations

There are several factors when selecting accommodations that are right for your family holiday in Dorset. The location should be within easy access to activities and attractions. Spacious grounds where children can roam and play, especially with on-site activities, are particularly suited to families. Those on a budget may find caravan sites, holiday parks, and self-catering cottages to be economical options that allow them enough space and flexibility to set their own pace.

The Internet can be a helpful source of information when selecting accommodation: look at pictures of rooms and facilities, read reviews from previous guests on things like cleanliness, hospitality, and food, and compare prices between different options.

Dining and Self-Catering in Dorset

Dorset has historically been an agricultural region. Although nowadays tourism has emerged as the dominant economy, there are still numerous working farms, and the locally-produced, organic offerings are a point of pride for inns, hotels, and restaurants alike. Likewise, there are several local farmers' markets in towns all over Dorset. These are a perfect opportunity to self-cater with fresh, seasonal fare from Dorset farmers, bakeries, and more. Markets are held on specific dates in certain locations, so travellers should check the schedule for the towns near them.

With the exception of self-catering accommodations, most places offer their guests a homemade breakfast. For lunch and supper, tourists can sample local restaurants and pubs, cook in their own facilities if available, or pick up some basics for an easy, no-preparation meal. Families travelling on a budget may find that self-catering results in significant savings.    

Finding Family Friendly Holiday Accommodations in Dorset on eBay

When planning your family's holiday in Dorset, eBay can help you shop for accommodation. Starting on the eBay home page, type in keywords, such as "Dorset accommodation" into the search bar. Once you have your search results, you set your price range to see only choices that are within your budget.

When you find an item of interest, be sure to read the full listing in detail. Note any date restrictions, capacity limits, and payment conditions, and make sure the description, location, and facilities match your family's specific needs. If you need to ask about accessibility, a pet policy, or any other concerns, you can contact the seller through eBay.

It is also a good idea to check the seller's feedback score. Reading comments from past customers can often give you a sense of how reliable the seller is, and how satisfied they were with the same or similar accommodations. After you have returned from your holiday, you can leave your own constructive feedback.


There are many reasons why Dorset is an ideal family holiday destination. Boasting the stunning Jurassic Coast and lush, rolling countryside, the county is full of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. Its thriving tourism industry means that there are many accommodation options for families with a range of budgets and interests.

Choosing a type of accommodation is a first step. There are a range of different kinds, from budget-friendly options like caravan, camping and holiday parks, hostels, and self-catering cottages to the cosy, family-run operations at farms, bed-and-breakfasts, and pubs, and even stylish, luxurious hotels for relaxation and pampering. Visitors can choose from secluded country settings or coastal splendor.

Self-catering options are a good choice for families wanting to economise, and with Dorset's range of local farmer's markets, there is plenty of opportunity for self-caterers to sample local flavours. Travellers with special concerns like accessibility, green tourism, and pet accommodation have plenty of options in Dorset and they should inquire about these before making their reservations. With a bit of planning, families can find a friendly, comfortable, and relaxing place to spend their perfect, family friendly Dorset holiday.

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