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Inside the Best (and Homeliest) Boarding School Accommodation


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Inside the Best (and Homeliest) Boarding School Accommodation

The perfect combination of swanky and snug

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  • Roedean School has a reputation for luxurious comfort twinned with some serious style

  • Encouraging girls to express their individuality, Hanford School provide many opportunities for them to roll their sleeves up and get crafty

  • Parents can’t get enough of The Pilgrim’s School’s themed dorms and abounding grounds

  • Getting the balance right between home and boarding life is easy at Beachborough, which caters for flexi, occasional and even trial boarders


Undeniably, the importance of great boarding school accommodation extends far beyond fittings and furnishings. If this is your child’s first foray into the independent world – whether they’re 7 or thirteen – you want it to be a good one, for it forms the foundation of adulthood.

From cooking and cleaning, to confidence and conversation, there are some things children learn best outside the classroom, and all of this is catered for just as well in boarding as it is at home.

Plus, choosing the boarding route means that by the time university is looming, your child will be well-versed and raring to go for a fun-filled fresher’s week, whilst still being able to feed themselves and retain some focus – the outcome of having done it all before.

Here are School House’s pick of the top four leading schools, which offer home comforts and boarding perks by the bucket load.

The One with All the Four-Legged Friends: Hanford School, Dorset

best boarding accommodation

Hanford’s headmaster’s office

Nestled at the foot of Hambledon Hill in Dorset, Hanford is a countryside haven for any girl who can’t bear to be without her furry friends. There are currently 16 ponies living permanently at the school, and if a girl’s own steed comes up to scratch during an assessment, they are welcome to be stabled at Hanford too. Girls are often found grooming, plaiting and caring for the ponies at break and in their free time – obviously at home in they hay.

Even better, there are all sorts of dogs at school – from tiny Dachshunds to bouncy Labs and Lurchers – all of which are constantly on the look out for willing dog walkers.

Cuddling the school’s pets is a welcome part of the girls’ boarding lives

The freedom continue indoors, with girls encouraged to make their dorm rooms – which are named after famous English literary figures such as John Donne and William Shakespeare – their own.

Needless to say they do so with a passion – plastering the walls with photographs and posters. Encouraging their individualism further, upon joining the school the girls take to the sewing machines on a mission to hand make their uniforms.

Homely ‘touches’ in the dorms

Girls are able to make their own school uniforms at Hanford

The One which is Totally Flexible: Beachborough School, Northamptonshire

best boarding accommodation

A dorm at Beachborough School

Rivalling Hanford for their love of four-legged friends, Beachborough‘s boarding house, Kites, is home to House Dog Charlie and a hamster, as well as 43 flexi-boarders.

Flexible Boarding allows children to stay over at school on regular nights every week, making it easy for parents to schedule their busy lives around their children’s. Plus this means boarders can truly reap the benefits of the best of both worlds.

best boarding accommodation

Flexi-boarding allows children to stay regularly with the same roommates and develop strong friendships with them

For parents with less regimented work routines, Occasional Boarding means children can stay whenever is necessary, and for any child who’s worried about the transition, Trial Boarding is often a sensible first step (especially since it’s free of charge).

By covering all bases, Beachborough’s boarding offering is second to none when it comes to convenience, whilst also scoring high on comfort. Kites House was recently re-designed and offers sleek dormitories for groups of friends to make their mark on.

best boarding accommodation

Kites House has recently been imaginatively re-designed

best boarding accommodation

Exploring at boarding

Of course, Beachborough has a wealth of facilities, including a sports hall for dodge ball and computer and art rooms, which the boarders can take full advantage of. None of these more civilised pastimes have managed to beat ‘Man Hunt’ on the popularity stakes, though. It turns out that even Beachborough’s brand spanking new games room just doesn’t compare to frantically chasing each other around the manor house.

The One with an Eye for Interior Design: Roedean School, Brighton

best boarding accommodation

£11m has been spent on the recent refurbishment of Roedean’s boarding houses

Over the last five years, more than £11m has been spent on refurbishing Roedean‘s four main boarding Houses and the two Sixth Form Houses, Keswick and Lawrence. And the money has been spent very wisely, creating beautiful interiors that The Telegraph proclaimed are akin to a ’boutique hotel’.

A Drawing Room at Roedean

Indeed many of these rooms have been lovingly kitted out with bespoke wooden fittings and are complete with much sought after sea views and the kind of original features that would drive property developers green with envy.

This isn’t a case of style over substance either and the fusion of heritage and contemporary design often has a purpose. The choice of modern ‘submarine’ lights is a clever example: a nod to when the School was evacuated during WWII and became a torpedo training base called HMS Vernon.

Plus nothing says boutique boarding accommodation more than their black and white tiled bathrooms and dorms colour-coded according to the school houses.

best boarding accommodation

Lawrence House’s Common Room

best boarding accommodation

Teatime for the boarders at Roedean

The One Under High Demand: The Pilgrim’s School, Winchester

A cosy dorm at The Pilgrim’s School

The friendly, bustling, family atmosphere of The Pilgrim’s’ two boarding houses can’t keep with the demand of their pupils’ parents. Capacity has already expanded twice recently, and another new dorm is again on the horizon.

It’s easy to see why. For one, the school facilities are exemplary, including, amongst other things, an outdoor pool, river, meadows, large playing fields with a medieval castle at its boundary and a wooden-beamed games room complete with pool, table top football and ping pong.

On top of this, the decor of the rooms is perfectly pitched according to each age group, with every one uniquely designed according to themes such as superheroes, Beano, Banksy, skatepark, world exploration and Dr Seuss.

A Dr Seuss themed dorm room (Photo: Jim Pascoe)

Yet The Pilgrim’s doesn’t stop here. Having created the perfect ‘home from home’ for their boys, they make it easier and safer for them to get back to the real thing: one of the school’s most popular services is the Waterloo Express, which sees boys escorted on the train the whole way back to London for school holidays, exeat or any other occasion upon request.

best boarding accommodation

Fishing in the grounds at The Pilgrim’s

The wooden-beamed games room

READ MORE: How to Help Your Child Settle in to Boarding | Boarding Schools: Country or Town?

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