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Be­ly­ing a some­what mis­lead­ing web de­scrip­tion as a vil­lage ‘inn’, La Fosse is most def­i­nitely a ‘restau­rant with rooms’, even if that mod­est ti­tle is, it­self, an un­der­state­ment of the unique ap­peal of this award-win­ning jewel in the heart of ru­ral Dorset. Hus­band and wife, Mark and Em­manuelle Hart­stone, opened this bi­jou op­er­a­tion (with a lit­tle ‘help’ from pri­mary-age daugh­ter, Amelie) after gain­ing valu­able hos­pi­tal­ity ex­pe­ri­ence with such lu­mi­nar­ies as Shaun Hill, Pierre Chevil­lard and Ray­mond Blanc. In­deed, the cou­ple met at Chew­ton Glen, be­fore Em­manuelle moved on to be­come Gen­eral Man­ager at Beaulieu’s fa­mous Mon­tagu Arms. As you could ex­pect, with that sort of pedi­gree, the sub­stance of La Fosse is of the high­est or­der and is matched by the style. The uncluttered frontage of the vil­lage house in­vites the vis­i­tor into a six-bed­roomed mini-marvel of ru­ral so­phis­ti­ca­tion and com­fort, each en-suite room in­di­vid­u­ally de­signed and per­fectly fur­nished. In­spired by lo­cal cheeses (Mark has won awards for his cheese­boards), the rooms are given de­light­ful names like ‘Dorset Blue’ and ‘Gold Hill’. The rus­tic, lo­cally-themed el­e­gance of the ac­com­mo­da­tion is echoed in the in­ti­mate din­ing-room, where Mark is the mas­ter of cui­sine, se­lect­ing all the best in­gre­di­ents and proudly pre­par­ing, and pre­sent­ing, imag­i­na­tive dishes to im­press the most dis­cern­ing palate. De­cid­edly not a pub (the ‘Sheaf of Ar­rows’ is a stag­ger away, across the road), this is a des­ti­na­tion that am­ply re­wards the ef­fort.

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