You’ll find the Seaside Boarding House tucked away on a quiet stretch of the Dorset coast, sitting at the end of a small track called ‘Cliff Road’. And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why they called it that.
The views that greet you as you make your way up are frankly gorgeous, stretching out across the endless expanse of the sea for miles either side, across to Lyme Bay in one direction, and down the National Trust-managed strip of beach in the other. Perched up on the summit of the cliffs themselves is the boarding house, a white-painted, Cap Cod-style monarch silhouetted against the horizon.
It’s all run by Mary-Lou Sturridge, who spent 20 years at the Groucho Club learning the intricacies of good food, good drink, and good service before pouring all that know-how into her own operation here. And what she’s created here is a place that is quite wonderfully old-fashioned.
The picturesque rooms – there are nine in total – all have antique rotary phones in them, with space in the walnut wood wardrobes set aside for shirts, ties, and ‘sundries’, and the television is so old fashioned it doesn’t even exist. That’s right. A hotel with no TV. After the initial sense of sheer panic at realising this subsides, you’ll feel an immense sense of freedom wash over you (particularly after you learn that there is still WiFi). And anyway, the view from each of the rooms is considerably better.
And so, screen-free, you can make a visit to the library & games room (with its roaring fire) or a trip to the cocktail bar. There, you can get long drinks, short drinks, coupes, slings, flutes, and more, as well as some local draught beer & cider – and many of them are only a fiver during their daily happy hour. And after that, you’re due a visit to the hotel’s crowning glory: the restaurant.
The beautiful white-walled space is punctuated with stripes of nautical blue on the tablecloths, and an assortment of seafaring paintings on the walls. Head chef Seldon Curry (who previously worked with Mark Hix, and at his own Wallfish Bistro) currently mans the pans, and his menu changes with the tide (almost literally) – but you can expect some stalwarts like the pillowy, cheddar cheese soufflé, or the local pork chop with XO sauce, all sided by the likes of an insanely tasty smoked butter mashed potato. And to finish? There’s a deceptively simple, yet profoundly satisfying bowl of vanilla ice cream served with a silver boat of piping-hot sea salted caramel.
Venture outside to enjoy the fruits of that glorious view, and you’ll be able to wander for miles down a stunning stretch of beach in either direction. And being the Jurassic Coast, there’s every chance that you’ll literally stumble over some fossils while you’re there. If you want to go even further afield then Lyme Regis, and all its wonderful distractions are just a few minutes drive.
It’s got old fashioned qualities without being quaint, and it’s got brand new qualities without being snobbish about it. As seaside boarding houses go, this one makes a splash.
NOTE: The Seaside Boarding House is open now, 365 days a year. You can find out more, and make a booking at their website right here.
The Seaside Boarding House | Cliff Rd, Burton Bradstock, Bridport DT6 4RB