CHECKING IN | LYMPSTONE MANOR
We first visited Lympstone Manor, Michael Caines’ beautiful seaside hotel and restaurant in Devon, back in 2017 just a few months after it opened. It had already won a Michelin star at that point but it was clear that there was a whole lot more to come. We recently headed back for a night, nearly five years after our first, to see how the place had developed.
The setting is still as stupendous as ever of course, with the main manor building that contains the restaurant and a large chunk of the guest accommodation sitting at the top of a sloping hill that descends towards the River Exe estuary and out to sea in the distance. One immediately noticeable difference however was the fully grown rows of vines that are now neatly planted on the slope. The vineyard was just about to be planted when were last there and now it’s on the verge of producing its first bottles of sparkling and still wines very soon – tasting those will have to wait for our next visit however.
If you take a wander down through the vineyard to the woods at the bottom of the hill you’ll discover another more recent addition – several deluxe shepherd huts that you can stay in. Having stayed in the main house on our first visit, we were very happy to be making one of the huts our home for the night this time around. The huts are very nice and private, nestled amongst the trees, and all have decks, fire pits, and outdoor tubs. Our hut featured a king size bed as well as freestanding bathtub and an open plan kitchenette, living area and a small bathroom and shower room. The huts are a bit tight on space compared to rooms in the main house but very cute all the same, and we loved having our breakfast hamper delivered the next morning and eating our eggs, fruit, bread, pastries, juice and coffee on our outdoor decking area.
Heading back up the hill and the other incredibly welcome addition to note is a beautiful outdoor swimming pool as well as a modern poolside restaurant and bar. We were lucky enough to visit on a scorching hot day in June and laying out by the pool in the sun with the incredible views below was bliss. The pool is heated, so you can use it happily in colder weather too. There’s lots of loungers and outdoor seating as well as a big indoor dining room serving a casual menu for lunch and dinner as well as tea and drinks. It was hard to resist a glass of Michael Caines’ own-label champagne as the sun was beginning to go down in the early evening. If you’re into tennis there’s also a brand new professional tennis court right next to the pool.
For dinner, we were booked into the signature restaurant back at the main house, which has retained its Michelin star each year since it was first awarded back in 2017. We loved the food here before and it was even better this time around. We went for the ‘Taste of the Estuary Menu’ which is entirely made up of seafood courses (well, apart from dessert obvs).
We kicked off with fresh a beautiful local Lyme Bay scallop ceviche served with avocado and local Exmoor caviar in a zesty citrus dressing. Next up was Loch Duart confit salmon with a honey & soy vinaigrette and wasabi yogurt and finished with a flavour-packed salmon consommé. One of the best dishes of the night arrived next, a stunning selfish ravioli with a rich langoustine bisque – pure brilliance.
A piece of BBQ sea bream was the first of two larger courses, served with a smoked yoghurt that complimented the flavour of the charred fish perfectly, as well as broccoli, buttermilk and a fragrant curry oil. Then came a meaty fillet of turbot poached in butter and served with shellfish chowder, spring vegetables, oyster velouté, and Exmoor caviar. Desserts went from a refreshing palette-cleansing rhubarb mousse with rhubarb & lemongrass jelly, rhubarb sorbet, and lemongrass & vanilla foam, before finally finishing the meal with a show stopping pistachio souffle topped with freshly made pistachio ice cream.
Our second visit to Lympstone Manor confirmed what a great place this is and it’s now easily one of our favourite country escapes. It’s got a beautiful setting, incredible food and brilliant new facilities – but best of all it’s all totally relaxed and grown up so you can really get a nice escape from London life here, making the 4.5 hour drive from East London more than worth it.
If, like most Londoners, you don’t own a car we had a great experience using Zipcar for this trip. We’ve used it before for quick journeys but never for a weekend away and it was a breeze to just book a car round the corner from us rather than waste time going to a car rental place to hire something and fill in all the paperwork. We usually use electric Zipcars for short journeys in London and although we felt the long trip to Devon required a petrol car, we probably could have done it with one stop to charge on the way – plus Lympstone had a couple of car chargers to use once you arrive. Zipcar has actually pledged to have a fully electric fleet by 2025 so for our next visit to Lympstone we may well be doing it fully electric.
Courtlands Ln, Exmouth EX8 3NZ