LYMP­STONE MANOR, DEVON.

Words Si­mon Gage

Gay Times Magazine - - TRAVEL - lymp­stone­manor.co.uk Thanks to Zip­car, the UK’s largest car-shar­ing net­work – zip­car.co.uk – for pro­vid­ing the Mercedes that got us down there. Try the app.

If you’re a fa­mous Miche­lin-starred chef off the telly and you’re look­ing to do one of those ho­tel/fine-din­ing des­ti­na­tions they like to talk about on Satur­day Morn­ing Kitchen while they’re chop­ping some­thing re­ally finely with some­one from Ca­su­alty sit­ting on a high bar stool watch­ing and talk­ing about their new play in the West End, then Lymp­stone Manor is the sort of place you’re look­ing for.

An early 1800s manor house dug down deep in Devon with a view over the Ex­mouth es­tu­ary and now its own vine­yard (wine will be ready in three years or so, maybe six, we stopped lis­ten­ing), Lymp­stone Manor is old al­right but with none of the in­con­ve­niences of old for you to have to con­tend with.

The fur­nish­ings are mod­erne – with an ‘e’ – slick and sleek: a big tub in the mid­dle of the bed­room with an or­nate gold mir­ror so you can to–le be­tween look­ing at your­self in the bath and that view of the boats bob­bing about on the es­tu­ary out of huge sash win­dows; mul­ti­ple din­ing rooms all with car­pet­ing and mir­rors and big sturdy din­ing chairs; a huge gin bar made of cop­per or some­thing and wait­ing staff in white gloves even if they are only bring­ing your por­ridge the next day. The over­all ef­fect is luxe rather than grand.

But the big draw is clearly the food, es­pe­cially the 8-course tast­ing menu, which comes in at a cool £140 and that’s with­out the £80-odd wine pair­ing that you can have with it. Very much a treat rather than a sim­ple din­ner, it’s ev­ery­thing you would ex­pect from Michael Caines (the TV-fa­mous chef, not the ac­tor... there’s an ‘s’ on the end, no­tice). Even on a Sun­day night, there are peo­ple, mainly straight cou­ples from Rich­mond of an age where a £200+ din­ner is af­ford­able, who have trav­elled a very long way in­deed to get here. That’s why it’s known as a ‘des­ti­na­tion’.

In nice weather, ev­ery­thing mi­grates to ter­races over­look­ing those over­looks and you can bor­row some Hunter wellies (dif­fer­ent colours avail­able) to take the low-im­pact Ladies’ Walk or grab a code for the gate and go out onto the Fore­shore keep­ing an eye out for the lav­ish ar­ray of birdlife around these parts. In fact the ho­tel has a whole bird theme go­ing on in that all the rooms are named for birds around these parts and they even stash some binoc­u­lars in your chest of draw­ers that we as­sume were for bird­watch­ing.

And tip: stay in the main house if you can. The other bit is an ex­ten­sion courtesy of its yesteryears as an old folk’s home, and no of­fence to our vin­tage friends but they didn’t ex­actly rope in Ed­win Lu­tyens.

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