Anne-Claire Heels enjoys her visit to The Alexandra Hotel and Restaraunt in Lyme Regis, with fine dining, harbour views and private gardens
WHAT’S THE VIBE?
Built in 1735 for the Dowager Countess Poulett, the Alexandra became a hotel in 1901 and occupies a superb location overlooking the famous Cobb Harbour in Lyme Regis. A thriving family-owned hotel today, it offers 23 rooms and two serviced apartments, two restaurants, a garden terrace, and for events a quirky Lookout Tower and an 18th-century chapel. There’s even a little treatment room. This entire place has character and a warm atmosphere that will charm you immediately – families are welcome, it’s not at all stuffy or formal, and the staff provide genuinely warm hospitality. Loved it.
WHAT ARE THE ROOMS LIKE?
Each room is individual in shape and size and décor is stylish but unfussy. The Countess’s Room is the best in the house, but all are beautiful, supremely comfortable and have a bright fresh feel. The majority have sea views, and some are larger so will suit families better. All have Egyptian cotton bed linen, bathrobes, natural Algotherm toiletries, TV, digital radio, free Wifi, and tea and coffee-making facilities.
The Alexandra is strongly committed to lessening its impact on the environment and has embarked on an Energy Efficiency Action Plan drawn up by environmental experts. Just some of the measures taken – there are dozens, and further plans afoot for the future – include local sourcing to reduce food miles, no individually packed jams/cereals, LED lighting with timers, top-grade insulation, recycled paper, electric car-charging points, garden waste composting, and bee and bug hotels in the garden. There is a Green Team on the staff to promote these practices, and take part in beach cleans.
HOW ACCESSIBLE IS IT?
Given this is a historic building that was formerly a private home, it’s not the most accessible for those with limited mobility. There is no lift but ramps are available, there are some ground-floor bedrooms, and grab-rails and banisters on all stairs and in some of the bathrooms. The friendly team will always do their utmost to help.
BEST SEA VIEWS?
All the rooms at the back of the building have Jurassic Coast views, as have both restaurants and the Lookout Tower. Best of all is the Garden Terrace – drink in the panoramic vistas and enjoy the salty sea air and sunshine at the same time.
HOW’S THE FOOD?
Local Dorset fare is highly prized, and the menu informs you where everything is sourced, from fish and meat to biscuits and beer. There are two restaurants: the Taste of the West award-winning Alexandra Restaurant for fine dining, and more recent addition Ammonite in the Orangery, which serves lunch and afternoon tea as well as dinner. After a breezy walk on the Cobb, we went for Ammonite (when in Lyme Regis…) and were not disappointed. Starters of chicory endive salad with sherry caramel, walnut and goat’s curd, and some gin-cured salmon with red onion and horseradish mousse delighted us both, while our main plates of white fish bouillabaisse with warm crusty bread and slow-cooked pork belly with tempura cauliflower, wilted greens and a pork and thyme velouté were filled with flavour – perfect portion sizes, too. We rounded off this memorable meal with a trio of Dorset cheeses, then a night-cap by the fireplace in the gorgeous guest sitting room. By then I was completely enchanted by the setting, and could see just why Jane Austen characters always rated a visit to Lyme so favourably…
WHAT WILL IT COST?
Rooms start from around £180 per night, B&B. The best rates are to be found by going direct, and special offers run from time to time too. Should you be unable to visit due to Covid-19, the hotel will change the date of your booking for any time for up to a year.
HOW DO I BOOK?
Call 01297 442010 or visit hotelalexandra.co.uk.
If you want to learn more about the area, check out our feature Move To Lyme Regis.