A weekend in Lyme Regis, Dorset: Where to stay, where to eat and what to do

Ellie Ross
Here's how to spend a weekend in Lyme Regis. [Photo: Getty]

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With its pastel-coloured houses, fish and chip shops and the stone Cobb wall curving around the picturesque harbour, Lyme Regis is the epitome of a charming seaside town. You could fill your time simply admiring the Georgian townhouses, painted in Battenburg shades, and the sweeping sea vistas stretching out before you. 

But there’s far more to do than meets the eye. Channel your inner Mary Anning and get stuck into a fossil hunt - a feature film about the pioneering fossil hunter, starring Kate Winslett and Saorise Ronan, is set for release in 2020, with Lyme Regis as the backdrop. 

Foodies will enjoy the culinary treats on offer here, too. The celebrated chef Mark Hix, who grew up in Dorset, has branched out from the London restaurant scene to offer fine dining experiences in his home county. You can also find affordable eats, from quirky cafes to traditional fish and chips, best eaten overlooking the sea.

Stroll along the Lyme Regis Promenade. [Photo: Visit Dorset]

Lyme Regis: Fun facts

  • It’s the fossil capital of the UK, with the surrounding cliffs frequently revealing the remains of once-living things from the ancient Jurassic past of 180 million years ago.

  • Jane Austen visited the seaside town twice with her family, later bringing these holiday memories to life in her final novel, Persuasion.  

  • The harbour wall, which dates back to the time of Edward I, is known as The Cobb. Although the origin of the name is unclear, it is thought that it may refer to an ancient feast called the “Cobb Ale Feast”.

Here’s our guide to the best places to stay and eat, and what to do while you’re in Lyme Regis – no matter your budget.

Where to stay

If you’re on a budget

For a friendly and vibrant traditional inn, book a room at The Nags Head. Located just a couple of minutes from the high street and a ten-minute walk from the beach, the building dates back to the Victorian era and boasts sweeping views of Lyme Bay. Above the pub, the rooms are prettily furnished with classical dressers and printed quilts on beds. Room-only doubles from £85.

Book the hotel here

A room at The Nags Head. [Photo: The Nags Head]

If you’re looking for luxury

Fancy a contemporary boutique stay? Dorset House is a beautifully renovated Regency villa that blends period features with modern décor and fittings. Owners Lyn and Jason Martin place a strong emphasis on luxury and locality, and have been awarded numerous awards for excellence and sustainability. B&B suites from £160. For something more quirky, book a room at Hix Townhouse. Its eight individually-designed rooms feature king-sized beds and roll top baths, and you get a freshly made hamper delivered to your room each day. B&B doubles from £120. 

Book Dorset House here

Book Hix Townhouse here

The quirky Hunting Suit at Hix Townhouse [Photo: Hix Townhouse]

Where to eat

If you’re on a budget

Attractive decor, a great atmosphere and fantastic sea views make SWIM a great choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And that’s before you get to the food, which ranges from bacon rolls (£5.50) and toasted sandwiches (from £9) to burgers (from £11) and poke bowls (£12). Situated right on the seafront, it’s also the place to enjoy a sundowner while drinking in those epic coastal views.

The stunning sunset view from Swim Lyme. [Photo: SWIM Lyme]

If you’re looking for luxury

Perched on the hillside, you’ll get far-reaching views of the Jurassic Coast from the large terrace at HIX Oyster & Fish House. Inside, the light and airy dining room features floor-to-ceiling windows, making it an ideal spot to enjoy the menu’s locally sourced fish and seafood. Tuck into delights such as shellfish soup, huss curry and Peruvian gold chocolate mousse (mains from £15.50). 

The gourmet food at HIX Oyster & Fish House. [Photo: HIX Oyster & Fish House]

What to do

If you’re on a budget

Find fossils galore and unearth the secrets of Lyme’s most famous fossil hunter, Mary Anning, at the Lyme Regis Museum. Built on the site of her former home, it’s just the place to discover the story of the remarkable contribution she made to the development of modern scientific thought. Adult tickets cost £5.95, family tickets cost £14.75. You could also head to The Town Mill to learn about the rescue and restoration of the mill with its giant water wheel that powers half-ton millstones as they grind the grain into our delicious flour. Tours are donation-based.

 Learn about the rescue and restoration of the mill at The Town Mill. [Photo: Visit Dorset]

If you’re looking for luxury

Lyme Regis is famous for fossil hunting, so why not enrich your experience with a pro? Delve into the 200 million year history of the Jurassic Coast with fossil expert and mountain leader Martin Curtis. Martin will take you to the best locations and share his wealth of knowledge to help you uncover fossils and understand this jaw-dropping stretch of coastline. Private tours from £105 for up to six people.  

Go fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast. [Photo: Visit Dorset]

How to get there

Main rail services from London Waterloo to Exeter stop at Axminster, where you’ll find connecting bus services to Lyme Regis. The X53 Jurassic Coaster Bus runs from Exeter to Poole and the X31 bus runs between Axminster and Dorset – both stop in Lyme Square. 

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