Great British boltholes: Inside the ‘perfectly appointed’ Alexandra hotel in Lyme Regis – an elegant and serene retreat that’s not far from the fun
- First built as a dower house for the Countess Poulett in 1735, the Alexandra became a hotel in 1901
- It has a reassuring mix of traditional comforts, such as the petite snug bar, with ‘modern interior flourishes’
- Don’t miss the Devon bacon at breakfast or the grilled whole kippers from Chesil Smokery in nearby Bridport
High above the children shrieking on the sandy beach framed by the Cobb harbour, and higher still, beyond the steady trail of day trippers on Marine Parade, sits the perfectly appointed Alexandra hotel.
A handsome beauty, this serene retreat is without rival in Lyme Regis. First built as a dower house for the Countess Poulett in 1735, the Alexandra became a hotel in 1901 and, with the dawn of Edwardian England, became a destination for affluent visitors to the Jurassic Coast’s most fashionable resort.
The Haskins family took ownership more than 30 years ago and have stoked the warmth of what was obviously once a beloved home.
Quiet luxury: The Alexandra is a ‘serene retreat’ with traditional comforts and ‘modern interior flourishes’. Pictured are the clifftop gardens
Mouth-watering: A delicate dessert from one of its restaurants
Here you’ll find a reassuring mix of traditional comforts, such as the petite snug bar, with modern interior flourishes – on-trend signature walls, velvet sofas, fossils (this is fossil-hunting country, after all) and sculpture.
The Alexandra restaurant is a fine long room where breakfast and dinner are served, while the Ammonite restaurant is in the orangery – a glass jewel box with doors opening on to the garden.
As the light fades, gem-coloured lamps and tealights flick colour across white-clothed tables and diners linger late into the evening. The sure-footed daily changing dinner menu included whipped Devon blue cheese and beetroot, Lyme Bay lobster and apple tarte tatin.
The sweep of a bay window with sea views stretching down to the Cobb, and a pair of reclining chairs from which to admire them, makes Room 15 a delight.
Lose time musing on the comings and goings of guests dotted across the lawn or join them in a Southsea deckchair to sip Lyme Bay gin or take tea.
Explore you must, though. Belmont, the Regency villa where John Fowles wrote The French Lieutenant’s Woman, is up the street. Splendid distractions can be found at the harbour, from paddleboard hire to an antiques and craft centre and The Lyme Bay Sandwich Company, where a crab baguette deserves the queue.
Sarah praised the hotel’s location, which is near to the sandy beach framed by the Cobb harbour
The Alexandra, Lyme Regis, Dorset. B&B from £180 a night. For more information visit hotelalexandra.co.uk
As we depart the Alexandra, a family who had celebrated a special birthday turned out to be regular guests, who remind staff as they wave them off that they’ve already booked their next visit.
The USP: Superb location – close enough to soak up beachside fun but also to beat an elegant retreat. And romance abounds. Private dining for two is available in the Lookout Tower, and the recently restored 18th Century Peek Chapel is primed for weddings and other 2021 celebrations.
The rooms: A cheerful take on traditional decor in 23 rooms, all different shapes and sizes. Two serviced apartments (one on the ground floor – ideal for the less nimble). Our bathroom is city small but gleams and is stuffed with white towels and robes.
The food: Prettily presented dishes created from delicious local produce with an emphasis on succulent fish win awards year after year. Don’t miss the Devon bacon at breakfast or the grilled whole kippers from Chesil Smokery in nearby Bridport.