Nestled between the small farming and maritime village of Lympstone and the neighbouring town of Exmouth, Lympstone Manor encapsulates the term ‘rural getaway’. Indeed, this truly striking Grade II Listed Georgian mansion is set admist 28 acres of idyllic countryside with views over the Exe Estuary.
When the renowned British chef aquired the mansion, once a private home, it was in need of considerable renovation in order to transform it into the 21-key hotel he envisaged. Meraki Design’s brief was to instil a sense of escapism, reflecting the beauty of the surrounding landscape, while injecting a more contemporary feel.
“With a building of this nature you are bound to encounter many problems; walls weren’t straight, pipes couldn’t go where they were meant to etc,” the Meraki duo explain. “It is never as straight forward as a new build but this is what creates all the character and what makes it unique.”
Advantageously, the Meraki team found that their connection with the project and Michael’s intentions was almost instantaneous. “Michael came to us with very thought through layouts and vision for Lympstone,” they explain. “We had previously done some projects with a similar look to what the brief was and thus we had an immediate connection to the project and Michael. We were on the same page from the beginning and understood exactly what he wanted.
“We call it casual luxury; interiors that sit well within their context, that are luxurious without feeling pretentious. It’s a task that sounds easier than it is, as there is a very fine line between the two.”
Context is certainly integral to the hotel’s interior, which captures and celebrates the natural beauty of the surrounding area. The design team channelled these pastoral references, along with the history and Georgian architecture of the manor itself, to create an authentic and inviting narrative.
“As a company we believe every project has its own story to tell,” the team told Hospitality Interiors. “We start off by looking at the context which informs the majority of the design and in this case there was inspiration everywhere – the views, the grounds and the Manor itself.
“The Estuary and Jurassic coast led the colour scheme and sense of serenity throughout the hotel. The colour of the tide continuously changes from golden hues, to soft dove blues to champagne. Michael had already settled on using the birds of the estuary as room names which again informed the colour schemes of all the rooms.
“We then looked at the interiors of the Manor which were tired, but had echoes of what once was and we all were in agreement that it had to be restored and brought back to its former glory. This created a beautiful shell that allows contemporary furniture to sit in, creating a balance. We played a lot with textures and subtle colour tones to create a sense of serenity and warmth.”
The hotel’s lounge is light and airy, awash with soft beige and cream details, and offers guests spectacular views of the garden and beyond from the French windows. Nautical maps adorn the walls, referencing the area’s appeal as a centre for trade and exploration during the medieval era, while a striking copper bar at the end of the room provides the perfect complement to the lounge’s cream tones, serving up the hotel’s signature cocktails and plethora of wines.
Speaking of which, it is no surprise that at the heart of the hotel’s identity is its phenomenal food and beverage offering. Michael has built his reputation on a visionary style of cuisine, one that has earnt him two Michelin stars which he held for 18 years. Having taken a year out to focus on developing Lympstone Manor, Michael has been able to spend time working on new dishes and concepts that will celebrate the seasonal bounty of Devon and the southwest.
His exciting cuisine will be served in the hotel’s three beautiful dining rooms – Haldon, Mamhead, and Powderham – each of which offer their own distinct identity.
There is a key emphasis, too, on the wine selection at Lympstone Manor, and both Michael and co-director Steve Edwards have carefully developed an impressive wine list. A wine tasting and dispense room situated opposite the three dining rooms will be used to house wine storage cabinets, alongside a bank of Wine Emotion dispense machines for the service of wines by the glass. A sommelier’s table, meanwhile, will allow small groups to enjoy a bespoke wine tasting experience. Exciting plans are in place, too, to plant a vineyard on the slope leading down to the Exe estuary.
A strong F&B offering was integral to Michael’s vision of contemporary country house hospitality, but customer experience was the guiding force in all the decisions he and his team have made.
“This project was driven with a lot of love and passion by everyone involved,” affirms Meraki. “Every single detail has been looked at meticulously, not only in terms of the interiors. The customer experience was the epicentre of Michaels ambition and we can without doubt confirm it is incredible.
“We hope Lympstone Manor brings more people from all over the world to come and experience the beauty of Devon.”