A charming, family hotel situated in the beautiful Studland Bay, facing 3 miles of uninterrupted heath and expansive sand dunes. Knoll House was built around 1900 as a summer retreat by a member of the Bankes family of Kingston Lacy. In the 1920s, it was leased to the Duke of Hamilton who lost interest when the toll road was built by the ferry company.
After a succession of summer lets it was rented in a dilapidated state, and soon purchased, by Francis ‘Chris’ and Marjorie ‘Poppy’ Smith, young hoteliers from Dorchester, who opened it as a six bedroom hotel in 1931.
The original building was extended to north and south with a view to offering holidays for families of all ages. Many of the new rooms had connecting bedrooms; a separate children’s dining room with its own kitchen catered for young children and their nannies. The hotel was an immediate success, being the first to offer such facilities.
After the outbreak of WW2 rationing made it impossible to continue and the hotel was requisitioned for troops erecting beach defences. In 1943-44 the beach and hinterland saw large scale operations in preparation for D-Day. After the war materials were short and it was not until 1946 that repairs to Knoll House were finished and the hotel could reopen.
Chris and Poppy Smith retired in 1959, having sold the hotel to Kenneth Ferguson, an engineer from Newcastle, and his wife Pauline. The Smiths had been besieged by several large groups, including Butlins, who wished to buy the hotel.
Chris and Poppy Smith wanted Knoll House to continue as they had run it and so passed on the hotel to the Fergusons who had their own three young children. The family ran the hotel for nearly 50 years with the younger generations taking the reins in the 1970s.
The hotel has changed hands again in 2017 but the family-friendly operation still continues today. The hotel attracts all ages of guest; many older generations first came as children themselves and now visit with their grandchildren.
At Knoll House we not only invite families to come and stay but also your beloved furry friends! After all dogs deserve a holiday too.
We look forward to welcoming you soon,
Knoll House Team