Michael Caines’ contemporary country house hotel has been wowing reviewers and diners since its long-awaited launch. Jo Rees visited to ‘experience the exceptional’ for herself

From the moment you step through the portico, Lympstone’s confident interior design – which walks the line between elegant, contemporary and luxe – is a fresh take on the traditional country house hotel.

While thoroughly glamorous inside, outside the panoramic views of the estuary, lush meadows and a soon-to-be-planted vineyard add a sense of place that has always been integral to Caines’ cooking.

Visit for a taste of the high life. Let the golf buggy take you to the door, imbibe a cocktail on the terrace and revel in exquisite cooking from the state-of-the-art kitchen, now home to some of the best young chefs who have worked with Michael at Gidleigh and elsewhere.

Don’t visit for culinary gimmicks. The elegant dishes are thoroughly rooted in the classics, and executed with precision and thrilling skill while eschewing cheffy nonsense of the smoking dome and popping candy variety. With cooking this good, tricks aren’t required.

We liked the smart but friendly service, ‘posh booths’ for an intimate dinner with friends, Caines’ killer bread and beautifully crafted drinks at the copper bar. This is somewhere to relax and have a good time without pretension.

Insider’s tip This kind of experience doesn’t come cheap but it’s possible to visit for lunch and enjoy the grounds and the terrace along with exceptional food for £45 for two courses, which is fabulous value. If you’ve got the means, however, stay the night and luxuriate in an outdoor marble soak tub, fire pit and personal gin tray.

 

What we ate (dinner)

Starter Mille-feuille of tuna and scallops, citrus lime, Oscietra caviar, soused turnip and beetroot, wasabi cream, honey and soy vinaigrette
Main Powderham Jacobs lamb, boulangère potato, confit shoulder, pea puree and tapenade jus
Dessert Banana parfait, chocolate, liquid salted caramel, lime sorbet