Everyone loves a boutique B&B – less stuffy than a grown up hotel but more of a treat than a standard bed and breakfast. If you are looking for a coastal version of this breed of guesthouse then I have just the place for you. Judging by the number of awards this place has garnered, I am not the first to love Dorset House. Standing tall at the top of the hill that leads directly into Lyme Regis, this Regency gem is the perfect base to explore one of the most popular parts of the southwest.
The owners, Lyn and Jason Martin, have turned a shabby, family home into an elegant luxury B&B within a few years of owning it. Already blessed with light filled rooms, original features and coastal views they have cleverly filled it with dark heritage colours, locally made ceramics and thoughtfully chosen art work to create a place to relax and base to explore from.
All five bedrooms are beautifully kitted out with additional touches that raise the B&B stakes like Egyptian cotton bedding, walk in rainshowers, locally made Bramley products and windows looking out across the Jurassic coast. In one of the rooms you can even see the sea from your shower for goodness sake. Waking up to a pinky red sunrise shimmering on the water, a few gulls calling and the knowledge that fresh coffee is brewing is the very best way to start the weekend.
So far, so boutique but wait till I tell you about the communal breakfasts. Lyn and Jason offer locally sourced, seasonal menus which change daily and carry all the reassurance of the good old aga cooked breakfast with the excitement of the specials like the poached eggs (and they were perfectly poached) on top of a mound of kale, chilli and sourdough toast. Everything that can be homemade is, including an off the scale granola served with a berry compote and yoghurt, a selection of breads (the sourdough verges on professional) and a tempting rose and pistachio cake calling to me from under a glass dome. I resisted and settled for a life affirming shot of apple, beetroot and ginger juice instead.
Out of season (ok whenever, who am I kidding) I don’t want to stay anywhere that doesn’t have a fire, squashy sofas, piles of magazines and an honesty bar. Dorset House has all of these in one generous snug which makes it almost impossible to leave to explore the local town. However you should make the effort to investigate as it is literally on the doorstep. I would recommend a big circular walk that takes in the iconic Cobb (made cinematically famous by The French Lieutenant’s Woman), the Jurassic coastline and bustling Broad Street for a little light shopping. Avoid all the chain stores and spend time in the excellent independent stationery, design, coffee and book shops. Dinner can be high end at Hix Oyster and Fish House or River Cottage or cheap as chips with actual chips on the seafront.
Lyn and Jason are the most sublime hosts with exactly the right balance of care, attention and informality which makes you feel immediately at home and yet impeccably well looked after. They have been developing Dorset House as a venue for workshops, retreats and events with huge success. Read about their recent Wellness Retreat here
. Many people dream of leaving their city desk jobs to move to the country and open a bed and breakfast. Some, like Lyn and Jason, actually do it. Very few manage to pull it off with award winning success, integrity and passion but the Martin’s have and Lyme Regis is all the better for having them.