It’s easy to see why Lyme Regis has been dubbed ‘The Pearl of Dorset’. This seaside town is famed for its fossil-strewn beaches and its lively food and drink scene. There’s plenty to see and do during your visit, whether it’s exploring the Town Mill, feasting on fresh seafood, or soaking up some of the culture…
Shopping in Lyme Regis
As avid bookworms ourselves, we’re pleased to report that Lyme Regis is home to two popular bookshops. At the base of Broad Street you’ll find The Sanctuary Bookshop (also known as Books Bought). It’s quite possibly the quirkiest bookshop in all of England, with a dark facade covered in hand-painted seashell motifs and a window filled with curiosities. Step over the threshold and a labyrinth of bookshelves await you. Spread out across four creaking floors, every spare inch of this 18-room treasure trove is occupied by books, art prints, antiques and curios.
At 32 Broad Street, The Monmouth Pantry is bringing the traditional greengrocers back into fashion. Inside this little ‘supermarket’ there’s an emphasis on organic and locally grown produce from freshly baked sourdough to homemade dips and fluffy meringues. It’s clear that owners Annie and Carlotta have a genuine passion for good, honest food, as their deli counter is a celebration of British cheeses alongside tasty antipasti and smoked fish. There’s also a handy refill station in the shop that contains nuts, household products and local milk, as well as a range of natural and organic wines that can be refilled on tap.
If it’s edible gifts you’re after, we suggest you try Ammonite Fine Foods. This specialist shop sells a wide variety of artisanal food and drink products, predominantly from the west country’s finest homegrown brands. There’s everything from traditional Dorset Knob biscuits to local cheeses and chocolatey treats. Browse their wide range of local spirits and come away with something truly delectable.
Friends Alice Meller and Michelle Blyth share a mutual appreciation for products that are both practical and beautiful. Together they run Lyme’s hugely popular homeware and slow living shop: Ryder & Hope. The pair work closely with artists and craftspeople to showcase well-made and ethically sourced items from around the globe. The shop itself occupies a gorgeous Grade-II listed, double-fronted building and is exquisitely curated. With a product range that features hand-dipped beeswax candles, cashmere wrist warmers and elegant ostrich feather dusters, we’re certain you’ll find something you’ll want to bring home with you…
At 12 Broad Street there’s a charming little shop called Ginger Beer – specialists in eclectic and vintage products for outdoor living. Despite its modest size, you’ll find plenty of gardening gifts, tools and equipment inside its walls, as well as outdoor furniture and fire pits. There’s also some lovely lifestyle trinkets for sale, such as delicious smelling candles and beautiful hardback books.
If you’ve spent the day combing the beaches for fossils to no avail perhaps a trip to The Old Forge Fossil Shop is in order. It’s unlikely you’ll miss this shop, thanks to the enormous replica Tyrannosaurus skull in the window. Although it’s particularly touristy, you can swot up on prehistoric history and purchase your very own memento from the Jurassic Coast. Crystals and gemstones glitter from behind glass cabinets and there’s plenty of ‘pocket money’ buys for little ones to enjo
Lyme Regis Town Mill
The Town Mill is Lyme’s cultural hub, home to several indie gems, including a gallery, a pottery studio, and the town’s very own micro-brewery and taproom.
For an authentic Spanish foodie experience, The Strawberry Tree is the place to be. Housed in the Mill courtyard, they offer delicious tapas and pintxos events, as well as regular cookery classes. We can’t think of a better way to spend an evening than grazing on small plates and sipping Spanish wine…
Next door, you’ll find the Town Pottery, where master potters demonstrate a craft older than the Town Mill itself. Watch as they transform wet clay into unique ceramic creations on their potter’s wheel or get stuck into one of their ‘throw a pot’ sessions. The small and enthusiastic team are happy to chat about their craft and there’s a display area where you can check out their work or purchase some pottery to take home as a reminder of your time in Lyme.
If you’re in the mood for some coffee and cake, head to Town Mill Bakery and take a seat at one of their long communal tables. Sip on freshly roasted Extract Coffee or stock up on pantry essentials from their little shop.
Beautiful Molesworth & Bird (above) is a must for anyone with an eye for interiors. This gorgeous studio space and shop showcases unique and delicate seaweed pressings as well as a range of products inspired by these natural artworks. Browse a beautiful collection of limited edition art prints, postcards, and tea towels.
Speaking of art, there’s also The Malthouse Gallery, which showcases work from both established names and first-time exhibitors. Because the work here is so diverse, you never know what you’re going to find. There’s everything on show from paintings and etchings, to sculptures, photographs, and contemporary crafts.
Don’t leave the Town Mill without enjoying one of Lyme Regis Brewery’s award-winning artisan beers. Sit in the lovely cobbled courtyard or hunker down inside their contemporary taproom. As well as producing a range of traditional cask ales, they also offer modern, hoppy kegged varieties, a range of guest beers, local artisan ciders, and their own house spirits.
Accommodation in Lyme Regis
The Arched House (above left) is a beautiful Grade II- listed townhouse on Coombe Street. The property takes its name from the fact that it’s built over the River Lym, which runs right under the house on its way to the sea. Not only do we love the property’s chic, understated interiors – designed by Melanie Molesworth of Molesworth & Bird – but we also love the fact that the seafront is literally a two minute walk away. The house sleeps up to 10 people in its five beautifully outfitted bedrooms, and boasts two cosy sitting rooms, and a kitchen-dining room with its own riverside views.
Just off the main high street you’ll find Lyme Townhouse. Formerly HIX Townhouse, this modestly sized ‘petite hotel’ has undergone a full redesign under new ownership and now boasts seven comfortable bedrooms. Everything Lyme Regis has to offer is right on your doorstep, so you can book dinner reservations anywhere in town and stroll back to your king size bed for a peaceful night’s sleep.
The Alexandra Hotel and Restaurant offers tranquil escapism just a stone’s throw from the centre of Lyme Regis town. Originally built in 1735 for the Dowager Countess Poulett, this regal building was converted into a hotel back in 1901 and today sits pretty within its own acre of private gardens. Alongside its 25 bedrooms and grandstanding sea views, The Alexandra prides itself on offering a truly boutique experience for its guests. Want to be pampered? Their treatment rooms provide everything from hot stone massages to aromatherapy. Caught your own fish? The hotel’s kitchen team will happily transform it into a delicious dish. Now that’s service!
For a seaside getaway with bags of style, look no further than dreamy Brook Cottage (above right). This boutique home from home offers a little bit of peace and quiet in the heart of the town. With three impeccably designed bedrooms and a pretty, secluded garden, the property can sleep five guests comfortably, as well as three pets. Interiors are a unique blend of old and new, with whitewashed floorboards and a calming use of colour throughout. There’s plenty to do right on the doorstep, making this the perfect base for family holidays or coastal get-togethers with old friends.
Lead photo: Lyme Regis Cobb by fotoVoyager / iStock.
Looking for more Dorset holiday recommendations? Get your hands on a copy of The Maverick Guide to Dorset