March 24, 2015 | Alexandra Hotel and Restaurant
There’s much to be said for discovering the delights on your doorstep when on holiday, and the pretty Dorset town of Lyme Regis is brimming with some of the best British seaside shopping in the country. From quirky boutiques to art galleries and gifts galore, here’s the ultimate insider’s guide:
Best for arts and crafts: The Town Mill
A delightful working watermill in the artisan quarter, mere moments from the seafront, this is the go-to place for arts and crafts. You may even pick up an original artwork from the on-site Malthouse Gallery. The pretty mill buildings, centred around a cobbled courtyard, also house a café, a milliner, a seamstress, a working pottery, a cheesemonger and even a microbrewery.
Best for antiques, interiors and soft furnishings: Susie Cole
This blissful place is filled from floor to ceiling with a delightful array of contemporary, vintage and antique treasures all unified by Susie’s soft, feminine aesthetic. Step inside and it’s immediately apparent why this (surprisingly wallet-friendly) shop is as popular with locals as it is with Londoners accessorising their homes – it’s seaside chic personified.
Best for freshly-baked bread and tempting treats: Town Mill Bakery
Stocked only with what’s made in house or by specially-chosen craftspeople and producers, this artisan bakery is known for its fresh, high-quality and organic delights. Bread is made the old-fashioned way with recipes, methods and ingredients your great-grandmother would be familiar with. From 2:30pm is time for tea and, if you stop by, you’ll find delicious cakes and scones emerging piping-hot from the oven to enjoy alongside mouthwatering local jams.
Best for unusual gifts: Ruby Rockcake
It may be extremely narrow, but this small shop certainly packs a punch when it comes to unusual gifts. Selling wonderfully brightly-coloured and retro-inspired gifts and home wares, finds might include tropical pineapple bunting and vintage music tins playing “La Vie en Rose”.
Best for fossils: The Lyme Fossil Shop
A trip to Lyme Regis wouldn’t be complete without a visit to this Aladdin’s cave of fossils, gemstones, minerals, meteorites and all things geological, for which the area – the Jurassic Coast – is so well known. Browse the vast collection then head downstairs to the tiny underground museum.
Best for fashion: Onni
Onni is the Finnish word for happiness and good luck, and this Nordic-style boutique stocks many Finnish and Scandinavian labels that are hard to find anywhere else in the UK. You’ll find soft and stylish Two Danes’ tunics, pretty and elegant dresses from Sahara, linen tops from AINO and colourful Norwegian raincoats by Blaest.
Best for teddy bears: Alice’s Bear Shop
The creation of author and illustrator Rikey Austin, Alice’s Bear Shop repairs much-loved soft toys as well as selling vintage and new collectable bears and dolls, plus games and books. Get crafty and join a bear-making class or take home a bear-making kit (complete with vintage velvets and patterns) to make your own completely unique traditional mohair bear.
Best for worldwide gifts and homewares: Fuego
It’s impossible to walk past this colourful independent shop with its pretty exterior and veranda adorned with spring flowers. Once inside, you’ll find an eclectic mix of gifts, clothing, accessories and jewellery sourced from all over the world by its adventurous and well-travelled owner. Spanish cookware, pretty hand-painted pottery and an impressive selection of World Music is also on offer.
Stay a short stroll from the shops at the Alexandra, a boutique cliff-top bolthole with views across the azure waters of Lyme Bay, the Jurassic Coast and the famous harbour wall, the Cobb. After a day’s shopping in town, curl up on a comfy sofa by the fire and watch the fishing boats coming into the quay at sunset through the brass telescope. A night’s B&B costs from £180 per room (two sharing)/ £90 per person. As well direct access to the beach, a lovely sunny lawn and an award-winning restaurant, the hotel offers a treatment room, gym, complimentary WiFi and children’s play area.
For more information visit www.hotelalexandra.co.uk, or call 01297 442 010 to book.