The best places to eat, stay, shop and visit in the South West

Lyme Regis

Exciting restaurant openings, indie gems and a backdrop of moody cliffs make Lyme Regis an unmissable staycation spot
Lyme Regis staycation guide Lyme Bay Cafe
The Lyme Bay

The ‘pearl of Dorset’ may be an ancient town littered with fossils but it’s also a bang-up-to-date destination for discerning foodies. Exciting restaurant openings, indie gems and a backdrop of moody cliffs make Lyme Regis an unmissable staycation spot

Where to stay

For coastal luxury and striking views, Alexandra Hotel and Restaurant delivers in spades. Its hilltop location and lush gardens create an air of tucked-away escapism, when in fact the seaside villa is just a few minutes’ stroll from the shore.

If inglenook fireplaces, flagstone floors and rustic furnishings tick all the boxes on your staycation lust list, you’ll want to book a few nights at one of the two cottages on Haye Farm. Set within a 66-acre family-run organic farm just 15 minutes from Lyme Regis, it promises bucolic bliss and the opportunity to roam wild pastures, visit animals and pick your own veg.

For an equally pastoral experience, spend the night in the rustic farmhouse accommodation at Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall’s iconic River Cottage in Axminster and wake up to panoramic views across the Axe Valley.

If you prefer the bustle of the town, just off the high street is Lyme Townhouse – a smart guesthouse in a Grade II-listed building. Seven uniquely designed bedrooms provide an ideal launchpad for strolls along the historic Cobb, lazy days on the beach or busy afternoons shopping at indie stores.

Alexandra Hotel

Where to eat

When you’re this close to the coast, you’d be foolish not to dine out on the phenomenally fresh local catch. And to truly experience what Dorset’s waters have to offer, a trip to Mark Hix’s The Oyster & Fish House is a non-negotiable. Locally caught, sustainable fish is prepared simply and paired with carefully chosen seasonal ingredients. The setting is pretty special, too: floor-to-ceiling windows treat diners to spectacular views over the shimmering sea.

For more seafood thrills by the coast, check out Millside on Mill Lane. Head chef Georgina Baker trained at top restaurants in Europe and was a private chef to the stars before establishing her own restaurant in an old mill in Dorset. Expect to feast on the likes of Lyme Bay scallops, home-cured salmon gravadlax, and local lobster with roasted garlic and herb butter.

One of the town’s most talked-about openings last year was Robin Wylde. Originally launched as a pop-up in 2019, the new bricks-and-mortar restaurant is where Great British Menu contestant Harriet Mansell creates innovative dishes which often feature ingredients foraged from the surrounding coast and hedgerows (read our interview with Harriet here).

Bump elbows with the locals over brunch at Town Mill Bakery, where refectory-style communal benches encourage relaxed grazing and friendly chit chat. Sip a speciality coffee while watching your kedgeree, grilled broccolini or sourdough pancakes being prepared in the open kitchen.

For easy-going vibes and a crowd-pleasing menu (everything from Dorset longhorn steak burgers to teriyaki salmon with wakame seaweed salad), make a reservation at SWIM. It’s smack bang in front of the beach, so epic views along the Jurassic Coast are a given. Go when the sun’s shining and relish the sea breeze when the huge sliding glass doors are pulled back.

Robin Wylde

Where to drink

Find caffeinated sanctuary at Amid Giants & Idols – Lyme’s coffee house with a front-room vibe. Let the sink-inable armchairs and board games tempt you to stay for a slab of homemade cake to accompany your expertly prepared speciality coffee.

Fancy something stronger? Head to Lyme Regis Brewery‘s Tap Room in the courtyard of the Town Mill. The former malt house is the self-proclaimed home of craft beer in Lyme Regis, so sample a pint that reflects its birthplace (try Dorset Pearl Pale Ale, Cobb Session Bitter or Lyme Gold Golden Ale).

For a relaxed sundowner with a backdrop of the bay, hit up The Lyme Bay. Soak up the last of the rays on the terrace or drink in sea views through full-height windows inside. Cool industrial decor pairs with a friendly, chilled atmosphere making it an unpretentious location to sample superb wines, South West spirits and local beers. Book a return daytime visit to experience the family-friendly spot when it’s more cafe and less cocktails.

The Monmouth Pantry

Where to shop

The Seriously Good Wine Company is well worth a visit to stock up on seriously tasty South West sippables, from the uber local (Black Cow Vodka, Dorset Nectar Cider, Dorset Schnapple) to gems from surrounding counties. Friendly staff are keen to share their wealth of knowledge, so ask what’s available for tasting.

Just up the hill is The Monmouth Pantry, the local shop we all dream of having. Grab your reusables and stock up on freshly baked sourdough, ogle the heavily laden cheese counter and check out the refill station for dried goods, nuts, household products, milk – and even wine (natural and organic). There’s organic local veg and eggs, too.

For more South West produce than you could shake a tote bag at, swing by Ammonite Fine Foods. Stock up on deliciously local edibles (from choc to cheese and sauces to spices) to fill your storecupboard once you’re home – or to gift to friends and fam as a taste of your gourmet getaway. Leave Ryder & Hope as the last stop on your shopping trip as, once you’re in the door, you’ll find it hard to leave. Home to an inspiring curation of local makers’ design-led wares for people, homes and gardens, it’ll fulfill all your Pinterest fantasies.

The pandemic has significantly affected advertising revenue in the publishing industry. If you would like to support Food Magazine, why not take out a subscription to our beautiful print edition which we’ll deliver to your door? Subscribe here for just £25 per year.

Most read