Enid Blyton's holiday spot is a quintessential English seaside – full of charm and history

My weekend break in Dorset could have come straight from an Enid Blyton book.


The only way it could have been more Famous Five is if someone had slipped a letter in invisible ink under my bedroom door.

That’s no surprise though — my base was Knoll House, a hotel in Studland Bay that was one of Enid’s favourite summer getaways.

The children’s author used to spend several weeks at the seaside property in the village of Studland with her husband Kenneth every year.

She bagged room number 40 with great views of the ocean and always sat at table No 3 in the restaurant.
Her side of the table looked out across the Channel towards the picturesque Old Harry Rocks while Kenneth had a view of Bournemouth.

In fact, nearby Brownsea Island — just off the coast of Studland — was the inspiration for Whispering Island in her first Famous Five book, Five On A Treasure Island.

And the village of Studland itself was the basis for Noddy’s Toytown.

It’s not hard to see why — this is your quintessential English seaside.

Knoll House has a winding path leading to the nearby beach and sits on the outskirts of the quaint village with narrow lanes, a stone-walled pub selling local ale and five different types of ploughman’s lunch, and an old-fashioned sweet shop.

Enid wasn’t the only one tempted — the hotel’s other guests have included Sir Winston Churchill, Roald Dahl and Sir Richard Branson.

And although it is 60 years since Enid started visiting the hotel, it feels like much of it hasn’t changed — in a good way.

Knoll House itself has had a spruce up in the last couple of years.

The rooms have had a lick of paint, the duvet covers have gone from faded floral print to white Egyptian cotton and the en-suites come with posh Elemis toiletries.

But it hasn’t had the full Ten Years Younger makeover.

There are no plug sockets next the bed, the sink is in the bedroom instead of the bathroom and the plumbing is a bit creaky as it gets going in the morning.

But in the days of identikit hotels, that is also part of Knoll House’s charm.

Back when Enid visited, the hotel was making its name as the ultimate family-friendly residence, with suites containing separate dining rooms where the nanny and kids could have their tea.

While it was mainly couples on the weekend that I visited, it still is very much a family getaway.

There is a separate dining time in the evening for children to tuck in while the parents lounge in one of the many reception rooms with a gin and tonic.

There’s the bar, two lounges, a lobby complete with roaring fire, a new bistro that serves afternoon tea, the library with board games and books, and the games room for teenagers.

Not to mention the enormous pirate-themed outdoor play area, indoor and outdoor pools, a gym, sauna, hot tub and golf course.

The management have also published a pamphlet of nine local walks that lead from the hotel door — and they’ll pack a picnic to take along if you ask nicely.

What is really impressive about this place though is the extra mile the staff go to for guests.

Conversations with the waiting staff are carried on from breakfast to dinner — and one employee even walks around with treats in his pockets in case he comes across any of the dog guests.

Much like Enid Blyton’s books, Knoll House is the perfect dose of old-school comfort.

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