Looking for places to stay in Lyme Regis, Dorset? Read our review of the Alexandra Hotel, a foodie hotel in Lyme Regis.
What is Alexandra Hotel’s USP?
With its spectacular view across Lyme Bay and Lyme Regis’ famed harbour wall, The Cobb, the Alexandra is in prime position if you’re looking for a luxury seaside escape. Originally built in 1735 for the Dowager Countess Lady Poulett but now a hotel, it’s also recently launched a new restaurant – aptly named Ammonite after the iconic fossils found along the Jurassic Coast – which aims to showcase the freshest seafood and other produce local to Lyme. Come for the food, stay for the view.
And the general vibe?
The crowd here is a reassuring mix of locals and tourists. Sunset ramblers from the public gardens below are enticed onto its well-kept lawns or wisteria-draped terrace, where bar staff linger to take orders. On the balmy late Sunday afternoon we arrived, visiting families and friends had moved out onto the terrace to finish their meals in the warm breeze, and still hadn’t moved when we re-emerged hours later for supper. For added romance, book the striking Lookout Tower for a private dining experience or intimate wedding.
Which room should I book?
The pinnacle of the accommodation is the sizeable Countess’s Room, with its towering headboard, floral furnishings and grand bay window overlooking the rear gardens and sparkling coastline; a spot which turned into an unexpected highlight of our visit, as we whiled away the early evening, sprawled on the lounge chairs, taking in the setting amber sun. There’s also a rather opulent master bathroom, with walk-in shower and a bath with a built-in television (an unnecessary addition, when the dreamy azure waters of Lyme Bay are waiting to be gawked at from the bedroom window, though the jar of pink Himalayan salts was a welcome touch, alongside marine-inspired Algotherm toiletries). As expected, robes were provided, though surprisingly slippers weren’t, which proved precarious when I glided across the lavish marble floor, post-shower.
Of the other 22 rooms, both Hinton and Gould offer a sea view, and are worth the additional cost, if only to lap up the distant rumble of waves as you drift off to sleep. Due to the Grade ll listing of the Georgian building, incorporating a lift into the renovations was out of the question, so guests in need of stair-free access should book one of three ground floor suites.
What’s good to drink?
Dorset has an abundance of local craft breweries and independent spirits (Conker Spirits’ Coffee Liqueur is one not to be missed). The Alexandra pays homage to this bounty with a drinks menu that includes sparkling wines (check out some of our best sparkling wines here) from Castlewood Vineyard eight miles west, Lyme Bay Winery and Furleigh Estate outside Bridport. Devonshire Luscombe Drinks make up the majority of the non-alcoholic offering, while restaurant manager Bogdan Tudor has collaborated with local supplier Just Fine Wines to offer a curated selection of organic and biodynamic wines, and mixologist Lloyd Brown has been brought in to host seasonal monthly cocktail events in the chic blue bar.
And to eat?
Head chef Tom Holloway (and his Taste of the West Gold award) has had his work cut out in recent months with the launch of the hotel’s latest offering, Ammonite. Set apart from the staple Alexandra restaurant, and housed in a renovated orangery, Ammonite opened its doors in May 2018 and is partially supplied by a small patch of herbs, salad leaves and sprouting vegetables in the hotel’s gardens.
Supper in Ammonite is taken from a set menu (a vegetarian version is available on request). Plump, hand-dived scallops, from Lyme Bay, were served with cucumber, lime and mustard leaves for a no-frills-all-thrills starter, while a dish of fried quail egg with Moroccan-spiced celeriac puree, packed a tasty punch but lacked the all-important runny yoke. Mains of Dorset cider-cured Chalk Stream trout with sea vegetables and Brixham brown crab (discover our best crab recipes here) sauce took the prized rosette of the evening for locality, proving the undeniable worth of sublimely simple ingredients. A board of West Country cheeses – smoked Dorset Red, Blue Vinney and Wookey Hole Cheddar – with Moores Crackers from nearby Morcombelake – ended the meal along with an aptly timed sunset.
What’s the breakfast like?
Fresh juice and strong coffee were accompanied by none other than local success story Dorset Cereals, homemade granola, pastries (check out our best puff pastry recipes here) and Moore’s Dorset Preserves. A West Country breakfast from the hot menu brought dry-cured smoked back bacon and award-winning sausages from Complete Meats in Axminster, while whole grilled kippers had been naturally smoked by Chesil Beach Smokehouse in Bridport.
Any other food experiences I shouldn’t miss?
Turning left out of the hotel’s front car park takes you into Lyme town itself in a matter of minutes, with its eclectic mix of charity shops, surf shops and high-design independent boutiques. Pop into the local deli, Ammonite Fine Foods, for fresh sourdough from Town Mill Bakery and a bottle of Dorset’s Pothecary Gin (which won the double gold award at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in April). We couldn’t set off back home without a truckle of Black Cow Cheddar and Vulscombe Black Pepper Goat’s Cheese, produced in Tiverton.
Is it family-friendly?
Nearly all of the 23 rooms can accommodate children, but you’d be better booking one of the two fully-serviced apartments in the Courtyard Cottage opposite the main building, with the option to self-cater, while still making use of the hotel’s facilities. If you’re blessed with dry weather, let them tire themselves out in the garden playground (trampoline, swing, slides and climbing frame) while the shelves of board games in the downstairs lounge can occupy a rainy afternoon.
What can I do in and around Lyme Regis?
Guests would be foolish to travel to this part of the Jurassic Coast without joining a local fossil walk (ask the hotel’s helpful reception staff for local times to suit your visit). If you’re visiting with enthusiastic young adventurers, let them discover more about noted paleontologist Mary Anning at the Lyme Regis Museum, which sits on the water’s edge (a visit to Baboo Gelato’s award-winning kiosk there will, naturally, be in order, too). The family-run team hand churn their range in nearby Bridport using fruit from Forde Abbey, North Perrott Farm and Bothen Hill.
The concierge says…
It’s not all about seafood in this coastal spot; Lyme Regis just happens to be home to one of Dorset’s – if not the UK’s – most celebrated vegetarian restaurants. Find Tierra Kitchen, and its organic Mediterranean-themed brunches, tucked away on winding Coombe Street.
- Spicy merguez and cod traybake
- Traditional Greek spanakopita
- Green gazpacho
- Italian baked meatballs
- Indulgent Baileys tiramisu
The hotel hosts monthly Film & Supper Nights on the second Wednesday of each month. For £30, guests can enjoy a cocktail, two-courses from the seasonal menu and admission to a romantic makeshift cinema in the adjoining 18th century chapel.
Double rooms start from £180, including a full English breakfast. For the best deals on rooms at the Alexandra Hotel, click here
Words by Sophie Rae | June 2018