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The dream of two-Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines to create a boutique hotel in his native Devon in southwest England came true in April 2017 with the opening of Lympstone Manor in Exmouth.
And now — after only being open six months — the hotel has not only become part of the Relais & Chateaux family, but it also has earned a Michelin star of its own, making it East Devon’s first Michelin-starred restaurant (and hotel).
The historic Grade II-listed Georgian manor house, which had been neglected since the 1900s, was lovingly restored over a three-year period.
“Like anything, it just needed a little TLC,” Caines said. “But we don’t call it ‘tender loving care’ — we call it ‘tender loving Caines.’”
The decor throughout the hotel is modern and stylish while still maintaining the feel of being welcomed into a friend’s English country home. To give guests a sense of place, each one of the 21 guestrooms — including two pairs of adjoining family rooms and several spectacular suites — is named after one of the native shore or water birds that inhabit the area. Most rooms have views of the Exe Estuary and surrounding landscape, and many also have private terraces or gardens.
“Everything we’ve done is intended to work with the lovely landscape,” Caines said. “I designed all the rooms with an en suite concept to give a real sense of space inside, but also to make full use of the property’s outside space.”
To reach Lympstone Manor, guest can take a roughly one-hour plane ride from London to the nearby city of Exeter’s Exeter Airport, then travel fewer than 10 miles to arrive to the hotel. For exploration of other areas, a train to Cornwall can be easily accessed from Lympstone Manor, and right in front of the property is a train that runs every 30 minutes and can take passengers from Exmouth to Exeter. Caines says the latter entails a particularly charming journey.
“I know American travelers are discerning when it comes to looking for a place that they can venture out from,” Caines said. “So, this is a good location to get to many other places.”
Of course, Lympstone Manor features Caines’ extraordinary seasonal and locally sourced food in its three dining rooms, including a la carte items and two tasting menus: one showcasing the chef’s signature dishes and the other inspired by the estuary with an emphasis on seafood. At any time, approximately two dozen of the hotel’s collection of 500-600 bottles of wine are available to accompany tasting menus, according to Caines, who puts food and wine at the center of the guest experience.
“Our goal is to position this house as one of the leading country houses in the U.K. through wonderful accommodations, a sense of place and the amazing location overlooking the Estuary — and with the food being at the heart of it,” Caines said.
Rooms can be booked individually, through a bed-and-breakfast package or an Escape to the Estuary package that includes both breakfast and dinner.