Set on the banks of the Exe Estuary, Lympstone Manor is a luxurious country house hotel with style, sprawling vineyards and a stellar culinary reputation, reflective of chef and owner Michael Caines’ Michelin-starred standards. Do the time warp back through the centuries in this Grade II-listed Georgian beauty filled with contemporary furnishings and striking seascapes. Borrow a bike to explore the expansive 28-acre grounds, which run alongside the Exe Estuary; or if you’re in a master suite, simply recline in your outdoor bath tub and let the views wash over you. The main event is dinner (and lunch, breakfast, elevensies…), where you can eat and drink your way through Devon's farms and fields courtesy of Caines’ seasonal dishes. Well-balanced, rich, satisfying: Caines has shown he can cook up a hotel as exquisite as his tasting menus.
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A cocktail during your stay; GoldSmiths also get a bottle of the hotel's sparkling wine
11am; check-out, 3pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability. For Shepherd Huts, check-in is at 4pm and check-out is at noon.
Double rooms from £296.66, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates usually include a Continental and à la carte breakfast.
All the common areas in the main house are accessible for those with reduced mobility; the Magpie Suite (one of the Master Suites) is DDA-approved and charged at a classic room rate.
At the hotel
11-acre vineyard; croquet lawn; tennis court; free-to-borrow bikes, wellies, beach bags and binoculars; wine cellar; charged laundry service; and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: smart TV, radio, tea- and coffee-making kit, homemade biscuits, gin and tonics on arrival, free bottled water, hair straighteners and dryer, bathrobes, and bespoke bath products. The Shepherd Huts also have fully-equipped kitchenettes and minibars.
Our favourite rooms
The Heron Suite has two side-by-side, gilded, roll-top bath tubs with views across the Estuary through tall Georgian sash windows. To ogle the picturesque countryside at will, stay in one of the Shepherd Huts (the Bee Hive is our favourite) which have expansive vineyard views and alfresco bath tub or wood-fired hot tubs for romantic soaks.
Framed by rolling vineyards, a tennis court and croquet lawn, the outdoor heated pool is open year round. Just behind, the Pool House serves locally-sourced bites and drinks.
Bring your Sunday best and freshly shined brogues – this is a Caines restaurant, darling… Don’t miss out on his must-try menus because of a footwear faux pas.
The hotel is the creation of world-renowned chef, Michael Caines. As well as opening his own restaurants across the country and winning multiple awards, Michael has waved his magic spatula over other Smith-approved hotels such as Gidleigh Park.
Dogs are welcome to stay in the Tern and Greenfinch rooms, and all six Shepherd Huts, for £30 a night. Fido isn’t allowed in the main house, but he’s welcome to join you in the Pool House restaurant, and a dog bed and bowl will be provided in rooms. See more pet-friendly hotels in Devon.
All ages are welcome, and the laid-back Pool House restaurant has plenty of options for the little Smiths. Extra beds are available for £60 a night (£80 for the Shepherd Huts), including breakfast.
All the grounds at Lympstone Manor are nurtured to improve biodiversity; local and seasonal produce is always favoured, and suppliers are chosen based on the sustainability of their sourcing.
Take a table by the bay window in the opulent fine-dining room.
Don your glad rags for a fine-dining experience to remember – we’re talking blazers and brogues, and diamonds and pearls; or keep it casual at the Pool House.
Head chef, Michael Caines has held two Michelin stars for close to 20 years, and the menus he’s devised for Lympstone has earned the restaurant its own Michelin star and bolstered his spangled reputation. The à la carte includes local ingredients in intriguing guises, such as a mille-feuille of tuna and scallop, and braised lamb from nearby Darts Farm. Sample some of Caines’ greatest hits in an eight-course tasting-menu with crab cannelloni, or pan-fried chicken and truffle terrine. Lunch is a three- or four-course affair; and the seven-course Estuary Tasting menu is filled exclusively with fish dishes. Devon farms and fields serve as Caines’ kitchen larder. Take afternoon tea in the lounge, bar or out on the terrace when the weather’s good. Hungry for more? Even after eight courses? There’s a light-bites menu and between-meal snacking at the Pool House, which doubles up for slightly more laidback lunches and dinners.
The industrial-style bar juxtaposes heavy copper bolts with fine Georgian cornicing. Enjoy a bar-side Blushing Jimador with tequila, Campari and grapefruit, or try Sailing the Med (with Gin Mare, strawberries, mint and tonic) on one of the comfy sofas in the lounge or out on the terrace. The wine cellars house over 600 bins filled with bottles from all over the world, including some made onsite, which you can explore with a wine tasting and pairing dinners.
Breakfast is served between 7.30am and 10am, lunch from noon till 2.30pm and dinner from 7pm to 9.30pm. Lunch at the Pool House is noon to 2pm, and dinner is 5.30pm till 8.30pm.
Cooked dishes are available from noon to 2.30pm and 6.30pm to 9pm; or, sandwiches are served all day.
Overlooking the Exe Estuary, Lympstone Manor is located in a quiet, charming village of the same name, a 25-minute drive from Exeter.
Exeter Airport is a 20-minute drive from Lympstone Manor. Fly direct from major European cities; those arriving from further afield will need to stop over in Dublin or Amsterdam.
Lympstone Village station is a 15-minute walk from the hotel, or a £10 taxi ride (one way). From Exeter St. David’s station, catch a 30-minute connecting train to Lympstone Village.
You’ll want a car to explore the fabled Devonshire countryside. There’s free valet parking at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Start by exploring Lympstone Manor’s 28 acres of gardens, grounds and vineyards. Start at picturesque Lady’s Walk, designed in the 1700s, then borrow one of the hotel’s bikes and cycle along the Exe Trail, past sandbanks and green fields to the coast. Exmouth has many watersports schools where you can learn how to kite surf, water-ski, windsurf paddle-board, sail or row with an expert instructor. Scour the sands of the Jurassic Coast for fossils, or if you’re more interested in animals from this millenia, visit one of the local RSPB reserves. Avid golfers can tee off at the East Devon Golf Club and Woodbury Park. Save a day to explore Exeter; discover local art, textiles, botany, archaeology and more at Royal Albert Memorial Museum, and take a tour of Exeter Cathedral; for a quieter, albeit spookier visit, book one of the late-night tours.
Head to Mickey’s Beach Bar & Restaurant, another of Caines' creations, in Exmouth. Burgers are served beachside and sourced from nearby Darts Farm; lobsters are caught minutes away and grilled in a thermidor sauce; and come Sunday, tables are topped with traditional roasts.
Hop on the water taxi at Exmouth Marina’s visitors’ pontoon and sail off to the River Exe Café. This is Devon's only floating gastro-shed – surprisingly. You can watch windsurfers and sailing boats glide by while tucking into locally-sourced crab, beer-battered fish and chips, or the daily catch. Enjoy freshly-baked pastries, coffee and homemade gelato at sea-facing Café Patisserie Galcerie.
Devon is full of old-fashioned English pubs to enjoy a pint in. Locals have been calling into The Bridge Inn in Topsham for almost 500 years; you’ll find momentos of the pub’s past dotted around: military helmets, muskets over the fireplace, even a sign calling to ‘ban all amusement’ – don’t worry, the pub’s really rather jovial, with live music events throughout the year. Mickey’s Beach Bar & Restaurant is locally-loved for their classic cocktails and hand-selected sauvignons. There are also several vineyards nearby where you can take part in tastings; ask the concierge to arrange a wine flight for you at their favourite winery.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this grand manor hotel near Exeter and unpacked their walking boots and hung up their tweed jackets, a full account of their gourmet country break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Lympstone Manor in Devon…
We’d love to be to the Lympstone Manor borne, but we’ll make do with a week or two in this luxurious hotel in Devon. Located within 28 acres of idyllic English countryside on the edge of the Exe Estuary, this grand country house hotel is the third hotel offering from award-winning chef, Michael Caines. Third time’s certainly a charm: the hotel has been restored to its former Georgian glory, with trimmed and tidied lawns, the addition of a destination restaurant that lives up to Michael's Michelin-star-winning standards, 11 acres of grape-bearing vineyards, and two wine cellars packed with over 600 bins of refined picks. Best get pouring, Caines…